Thailand and The ASEAN

February 2, 2016

After 12 years, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) agreement has been signed by all ten Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar). ASEAN nations can now take advantage of each other’s growth opportunities.

The AEC agreement, which launched on December 31, 2015, allows certain professionals to work in other ASEAN countries more easily. Skilled workers will be able to work more freely within the region by just passing one exam to have their skill recognized in all ten ASEAN member countries. Besides the freer movement of goods and services, investment and capital, one of the most awaited benefits of the ASEAN Economic Community is skilled labor mobility within the region. People will also be able to work abroad within the ASEAN community to earn more money. The most affected occupations are doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants, surveyors, dentists, architects, and those in the tourist industry. Thailand is one of the five founding Member States 42 years ago and played some very vital roles in the developing and implementation of ASEAN.

Thailand’s job market will be directly affected. Many people from the other nine ASEAN countries will have the right to work in Thailand across multiple industries. These ASEAN agreements call for mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs). MRAs enable ASEAN citizens to gain skills and experience required for certification in their own country and can be transferred to other ASEAN countries. MRAs facilitate the movement of professional service providers in the ASEAN region by allowing the qualifications of certain professionals to be mutually recognized by other ASEAN Member States.

Finally, sources from an officer under the Legal Division of the Department of Labor quoted "one purpose of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is to make it more convenient to the citizen of member countries to work in other member countries. However, the Alien Working Act BE2551 will still be in effect, which means that every non-Thai will still need a Thai work permit in order to work in Thailand".

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Mercy Mildener
Public Relations and Marketing Consultant

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