01/08/2016, 00.00
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ASEAN, unmissable opportunity for Thai society and economy

by Weena Kowitwanij
Bangkok is one of the founders of the Association of South-East Asia, and the last five years has created special economic zones bordering with other nations in the group to improve trade. But a survey shows that the Thai population does not feel part of the Association, and that only 65% were aware of its existence.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The Thai people do not feel themselves to be citizens of ASEAN, and only 65% ​​of the population want to be part of it. This despite the fact that Bangkok is one of the five founding members of the union (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and has led it for several years. Yet, the opportunities provided by ASEAN to develop both nationally and regionally "are huge”, as shown by a survey carried out in Thailand in recent days.

To try to balance this situation, the Department of Public Relations of the Thai government has asked the four governors of the southern provinces of the country - which border other ASEAN nations - to provide a "summary" of the last five years of operations . In the period between 2010 and 2015, in fact, Bangkok has created special economic zones in their areas that have improved the socio-economic conditions of the population.

According Pakarathorn Thienchai, who leads the area of ​​Sa Kaew-the border with Cambodia, the Rong Kluea common market is "a great opportunity. The Special Economic Zone that we have formed in the province comprises the districts of Wattana-Nakorn and Aranprathes. These are based on agricultural products. Foreign trade is increasing, and in 2015 reached 2.2 billion dollars. But we must do more for tourism: we have about 10 million visitors a year, but only 100 thousand tourists. We need to develop tourism in the tribal areas. "

Wasant Chamnanjui is instead the deputy governor of Tak, bordering Myanmar. Here the development has focused on transport: Mae Sod Airport and a network of motorways. "The local population – he says - knows and appreciates the idea of ​​Special Economic Zone. For now we are focused on building large shopping centers and a public university to attract foreign investment. We exceeded 2 billion dollars of trade ".

Thawatchai Thammarak guides the province of Mukdaham, one of the most sensitive because Thailand borders Laos: "We are an economic corridor that cuts from east to west. Across the Thai and Laotian bridge of friendship it can unite the two countries and China. In fact, the 1,300 kilometers of road to China passes through Da Nang, one of the major port cities of Vietnam. Our partners appreciate the Thai products, which are usually considered of a high standard. And also many foreigners come here wishing to make use of our health care”.

Finally Anuchit Trakulmututa is Deputy Governor of Songkhla: "Ours is a province linked to the sea, with which we cooperate in economic terms with Indonesia and Malaysia. They are big buyers of our rice, and we buy their oil palm. Now we are aiming for thr Chinese and Japanese, with whom we would like to develop our rubber market ".

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