Police Captain Nitipoom Navaratna Ph.D., a powerful Member of Parliament, spoke at the seminar about what to expect and how Thailand needs to prepare.
Dr. Nitipoom said the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is modeled after the European Union (EU) with regards to free trade and visa requirements.
"Of the ten member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) only Thailand has not signed off on all aspects of the agreement because some ministries have not yet approved measures of compliance and agreement," the popular MP Nitipoom said.
"By contrast, Japan, not yet an AEC member, has planned the process of inclusion and is ready to join the AEC, having already received approval from its government," he added.
Other key points made by the featured speaker Dr. Nitipoom were:
1) There will be zero tariffs on imports. With immediate effect, all ten countries will abolish taxes, duties and tariffs and treat imported goods from member nations as they would local goods. In 2010, Thailand was the top rice producer in the world. Now, Vietnam has surpassed Thailand in rice production. Rice farmers in Thailand are concerned that the price of Vietnamese rice will be below the cost of production of Thai rice, thereby negatively affecting incomes. There will be challenges of price competition in other industries as well, but the end result of free market competition should be lower prices and increased sales for all member countries.
2) Eventually visas will be similar to Europe’s Schenghen visa, and ASEAN citizens with AEC passports will not need visas to travel within the Community. Foreigners will need only one visa to visit all 10 countries. However, as a first step, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand will join to form seamless borders so that entry to one country allows onward entry into the other three countries. It will take a few years to achieve a community of all 10 nations without internal borders.
And by that time Japan and other countries may have joined the AEC.
3) Each country will allow 70% foreign ownership of companies. This raised the question in the minds of the foreign press in attendance as to how this could positively affect land ownership since foreigners could own a majority of a Thai company which owns land.
4) It has also been announced that all ten member states of the AEC will change their school academic terms to coincide with the Western school model. The school year therefore will begin on or about September 1st of each year for the AEC states, commencing in 2015.
More information on how foreigners can invest in Thailand and the AEC can be found at