By 2015, ten countries in Southeast Asia plan to launch a single market for goods, services, capital and labor, which has the potential to be one of the largest economies and markets in the world.

Here are 12 things to know about the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is intensifying efforts to realize by 2015 the ASEAN Economic Community and implement the initiatives to achieve a single market and production base, allowing the free flow of goods, services, investments, and skilled labor, and the freer movement of capital across the region.
Source: Nay Pyi Taw Declaration, 24th ASEAN Summit, 11 May 2014.
If ASEAN were one economy, it would be seventh largest in the world with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.4 trillion in 2013. It could be fourth largest by 2050 if growth trends continue.
Source: ASEAN Integration and the Private Sector, speech by ADB Vice-President Stephen Groff, 23 June 2014 in Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.
With over 600 million people, ASEAN’s potential market is larger than the European Union or North America. Next to the People’s Republic of China and India, ASEAN has the world’s third largest labor force that remains relatively young.
Source: ASEAN Integration and the Private Sector, speech by ADB Vice-President Stephen Groff, 23 June 2014 in Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.
ASEAN is one of the most open economic regions in the world, with total merchandise exports of over $1.2 trillion – nearly 54% of total ASEAN GDP and 7% of global exports.
Source: ADB publication ASEAN 2030: Toward a Borderless Economic Community
Created in 1967 mainly for political and security reasons, ASEAN is today a successful model for regionalism, widely recognized globally.

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12 Things you should Know about ASEAN Economic Community

With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, generally pro-investment policies, and strong export industries, Thailand enjoyed solid growth from 2000 to 2008 – averaging more than 4% per year – as it recovered from the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Thai exports – mostly machinery and electronic components, agricultural commodities, and jewelry – continue to drive the economy, accounting for as much as three-quarters of GDP. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 severely cut Thailand’s exports, with most sectors experiencing double-digit drops. In 2009, the economy contracted about 2.8%. The Thai government is focusing on financing domestic infrastructure projects and stimulus programs to revive the economy, as external trade is still recovering and persistent internal political tension and investment disputes threaten to damage the investment climate.
Base effects are expected to lead to an increase in inflation readings in the fourth quarter of 2009 and into 2010, but monetary policy is likely to remain accommodative. In the same way that the deflation in 2009 has not warranted a more aggressive monetary policy reaction despite the Bank of Thailand having a lower bound of zero on its inflation target, positive inflation in 2010 should not lead to aggressive tightening either, and the Bank of Thailand is not expected to raise rates until the second half of 2010 despite rising inflation readings.

Social and political stability

Thailand is a foreigner friendly and welcoming Buddhist country. The country’s form of government is a constitutional monarchy, with a high reverence for the Thai Monarchy, and devotion to the teachings of Buddhism. And although the vast majority of the people in Thailand are Buddhist, all religions are welcome, and His Majesty the King is the patron of all religions.

Thailand’s Growing economy

Economically, this country of 65 million people is characterized by steady growth, strong exports and a vibrant domestic consumer market. Abundant natural resources and a skilled and cost-effective work force help attract foreign investors, and enable them to prosper and develop industry in Thailand.

Sufficient infrastructure

Thailand has good infrastructure with modernized transportation facilities, as well as upgraded communications and IT networks that ensure optimum business and living conditions. State-of-the-art industrial estates boast sophisticated facilities and superior services.

The size of the work force in Thailand now exceeds 34.1 million, with the majority of the workforce under 30 years of age. Each year about 800,000 people join this force. Many standard labor practices apply, including mandatory severance packages, and overtime payments for work in excess of the normal workday.

The minimum wage in Thailand is currently 203 baht per day in Bangkok and slightly less in the provinces. While not the lowest labor market in the region, Thailand’s workforce is among the most cost-efficient in the world, as they have earned a reputation for diligence and adaptability.
In Thailand, the King is head of state, while the leader of the government is the Prime Minister. Other chief executives also include cabinet members and ministers, together with high-ranking government officials in ministries, bureaus and agencies. As head of state, the King has the authority to exercise sovereign power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, and the Courts. The Prime Minister functions in the name of the King, and is responsible for all royal commands regarding the affairs of the State.