AEC success requires concerted regional effort to build trust Bangkok: The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will succeed only if its members put in a concerted effort to build trust among people across the region, stressed Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Kittirat na-Ranong, at the ASEAN-Thailand Roundtable, an event organized by the ASEAN Business Club (ABC).

He emphasized the Thai government’s commitment to ASEAN and identified ways in which greater economic integration across the region would help improve the welfare of the people of Thailand. He encouraged the ABC to grow relationships of trust among ASEAN’s business community and to engage with policymakers.

The ASEAN Business Club was launched in October 2011 and yesterday’s Roundtable and subsequent dinner, at Bangkok’s Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, was its first event in Thailand. Co-chairs of ABC Thailand, Tos Chirativat, CEO of Central Retail Corporation and Chartsiri Sophonpanich, President of Bangkok Bank, convened senior members of government and business, including Bank of Thailand representatives, Federation of Thai Industries Chairman Payungsak Chartsuthipol, Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand Chairman Phongsak Assakul, Thai Bankers Association Secretary General Dr. Twatchal Yongkittikul, and Thai Bond Market Association Chairman Bandid Nijathaworn. Members of the ABC delegation included Nazir Razak, CEO of CIMB Group; Patrick Walujo, Co-Managing Director of Northstar Equity Partners; Azmil Zahruddin, Executive Director, Investments, Khazanah Nasional; Win Win Tint, Managing Director, City Mart Holding Co Ltd.; and John Pang, Chief Executive of the ASEAN Business Club. The delegation exchanged their views on the AEC and the business landscape in Thailand during the roundtable consultation among themselves, senior members of the Thai government, and the leaders of Thai business associations.

“ASEAN is a golden opportunity,” said Tos Chirativat, “and ASEAN’s public and private sectors should work together to improve the well-being of the region’s people.” In a similar vein, Chartsiri Sophonpanich said that “the different stages of development of ASEAN countries allow them to play complementary roles to each other, but they must find ways to work together.” In his keynote dinner speech, Mr George Yeo, Singapore’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Trade and Industry, and current Vice Chairman of Kerry Group, identified ASEAN’s continuing relevance in being geographically and culturally situated between India and China. He said that the growing connectivity within ASEAN and among ASEAN, India and China would drive growth in the region.. To take up this position, ASEAN must first ensure real integration between its economies.