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Thailand Cited as the Center of Production Networks in ASEAN
Source: thailand.prd.go.th
Source Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: Thailand
Created: Aug 16, 2010

Mr. Hidetoshi Nishimura, Executive Director of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), has cited Thailand as the center of production networks in this region.

Mr. Nishimura gave a briefing on ERIA and its activities to Minister to the Prime Ministers Office Ongart Klampaiboon, who led a group of senior officials from the Government Public Relations Department (PRD) and journalists from private media organizations to visit ERIA in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 2 August 2010.

ERIA, which is part of the ASEAN Secretariat, was inaugurated in June 2008. It functions as an independent research institute and provides resources for narrowing development gaps and enhancing research capabilities in countries in need of improvement in public policy. Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) is ERIAs research network in Thailand.

Mr.Nishimura quoted the Chairman's statement of the EAS Fforeign Ministers Informal Consultations, held in Ha Noi on 21 July 2010 as saying "The Ministers welcomed the effective contributions of ERIA in enhancing regional economic integration, bridging development gaps and promoting connectivity for both ASEAN and EAS countries."

After discussion with Mr. Nishimura, Minister Ongart said that over the past two years, ERIA has focused its work on three main issues: energy, transport, and logistics, as it believed that these issues would play an important part in reducing gaps among people in this region. ASEAN is seen to become more powerful, if it is able to build up the size of the middle class in society. Having the middle class as the driving force of the region will be vital to further development in ASEAN.

Minister Ongart was confident that research projects undertaken by ERIA would be of great benefit to the strengthening of ASEAN. He said that Thailand should make use of the results of ERIA research work to come up with energy, transport, and logistics roadmaps, in order to narrow gaps between the rich and the poor and increase the number of middle-class people in Thai society.

Before visiting ERIA on the same day, the group also visited the ASEAN Secretariat and had a discussion with Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General. Dr. Surin said that ASEANs present and future role has been widely recognized, especially when countries in the region quickly recovered from the economic crisis and continued to enjoy high growth. For instance, Thailand recorded a growth rate of 12 percent in the first quarter of 2010, Singapore more than 10 percent, and Indonesia more than 6 percent. The quick recovery would help the global economy pick up, as well. ASEAN, which celebrated its 43rd anniversary on 8 August 2010, still maintains its well-balanced position between India and China.

Dr. Surin described the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta as a mini-United Nations, since it is represented by 45 ambassadors from countries outside the ASEAN region. Because of the economic dynamism in this region, such major countries as the United States and Russia have shown interest in joining ASEAN. He cited an expanded East Asia Summit (EAS) as a regional platform for the future of ASEAN. Even so, he stressed the concept of maintaining ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture. EAS, or ASEAN+6, now consists of 10 ASEAN countries plus Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand. If the United States and Russia are included, the regional platform will become ASEAN+8.

Dr. Surin revealed that ASEAN foreign ministers would recommend to ASEAN leaders when they meet later this year in Ha Noi, Vietnam, that they admit the United States and Russia into EAS.
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