At the 14th ASEAN Summit in 2009, Cha-am Hua-Hin, Thailand, the Leaders adopted the Cha-am Hua Hin Declaration on the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community, 2009-2015 which consisted of a declaration, the three pillars’ respective Blueprints to realize their goals in 2015, and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Strategic Framework and IAI Work Plan 2 (2009-2015). This framework created the Blueprints of ASEAN community in three pillars:
1) ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Blueprint
2) ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint
3) ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint
Since its inception in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has made a number of achievements towards regional peace, stability, and prosperity. Thailand has played an active role in ASEAN from the very beginning. ASEAN has been and will continue to be a cornerstone of Thailand’s foreign policy. Thailand attaches great importance to enhancing cooperation within ASEAN frameworks to build trust and confidence among ASEAN Member States, as well as to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Thailand’s contribution to ASEAN has been continuous and active. Under our chairmanship in 2008‐2009, the ASEAN Charter entered into force and transformed ASEAN into a truly rules‐ based organization. Thailand is thus fully committed to the effective implementation of the ASEAN Charter, which is vital to the ASEAN community‐building process. Another important document adopted during Thailand’s Chairmanship in 2009 is the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009‐2015) which lays down a series of actions to guide our community building efforts in all three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political‐Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio‐Cultural Community. Thailand believes that progress in all the three pillars will support a strong ASEAN community building process beyond 2015.
In the political and security field, Thailand is committed to work with ASEAN Member States to maintain a peaceful and stable regional environment, which is vital for continued economic development and growth in this region. Thailand has been at the forefront of regional efforts in building trust and confidence through the various existing mechanisms and frameworks such as the TAC, the EAS, the ADMM and ADMM Plus, as well as the ARF. We have worked actively with our ASEAN colleagues to promote preventive diplomacy and as certain that all existing dispute settlement mechanisms truly function. Thailand has also played an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region, as testified by the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) under our chairmanship in 2009. Thailand has also actively participated and supported the involvement of relevant stakeholders in the region in the drafting process of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, which was adopted by ASEAN Leaders at the 21st ASEAN Summit.
In the economic field, Thailand sees regional economic integration as a means to ensuring sustainable and equitable growth in the region, enhancing competitiveness of ASEAN Member States, and contributing to our integration into the global economy. Thailand has been a strong advocate for ASEAN’s regional economic integration, which has taken shape since the inception of AFTA in 1992. Thailand will continue to play an active role in deepening regional economic cooperation through the development of the RECEP, which will represent the size of half of the global market and help further boost the collective vibrant economic potential in East Asia. With 10 countries of ASEAN becoming one community, enhanced connectivity within and beyond our region is vital. Therefore, Thailand proposed the concept of enhanced ASEAN connectivity in a comprehensive manner, comprising physical, institutional and people‐to‐people connectivity. The implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity is one of the top priority areas in ASEAN.
In the socio‐cultural field, Thailand is a strong proponent of a people‐centred ASEAN Community as envisioned by the ASEAN Charter. Under our chairmanship, Thailand has initiated the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting with representatives of ASEAN Inter‐Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), civil society organizations (CSOs) and youth to increase their interaction with ASEAN and promote their involvement in the community‐building process. Thailand will also continue to work closely with our ASEAN colleagues to further enhance regional cooperation in various socio‐cultural areas, such as disaster management, education, narrowing development gap, environment, public health, as well as building an ASEAN identity, in order to achieve a caring and sharing society in ASEAN.
The Thai government has outlined eight strategies to prepare the country for AEC:
1) Promotion of competitiveness of products, services, trade, and investment;
2) Improvement of quality of life and social protection;
3) Development of basic infrastructure and logistics system to enhance connectivity;
4) Human resources development to meet ASEAN education standards;
5) Improvement of law and regulations to facilitate trade and investment;
6) Promotion of public awareness about the AEC;
7) Strengthening security issues;
8) Enhancing urban competitiveness to take advantage of opportunities in ASEAN.
Consequently, The Thai governments are committed to ensuring that the country is ready for the ASEAN Community at the local, national and international level. However, there still have a lot of challenges for Thailand to ASEAN, including political, economic and social diversity, ethnic and religious diversity, social conflicts and impacts of economic development, major powers like US and China competition in the region, and dilemma between national and regional interest.