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Thailand: Preparing Thai farmers for tough Asean rules

With trade liberalisation on the Asean agenda to be fully enforced over the next four years, Apichart Pongsrihadulchai, advisor to the agriculture minister has warned a 'tough trade' under the upcoming Asean Economic Community (AEC).

Thai farm goods will be facing tougher competition as the increase in non-trade barriers imposed by trading partners to protect their domestic markets would hamper exports.
 
“Thai farmers and enterprises, in order to survive, must focus on producing goods that serve complicated demands to ensure that they have a larger market share in Asean and the rest of the globe.” 
 
Today, Thailand is Asean's largest exporter of agricultural products with a market share of 18%. However, once investment is liberalised under the AEC, some sectors in the farming industry will be opened for Asean investors and manufacturers will be able to relocate to countries that have lower labour and production costs, and that he says is when Thai enterprises will see big changes in the farming sector over the next few years.
 
To survive Thai farmers will have to boost the quality of their products, while enterprises will need to rapidly adapt so that they continue to compete in what will be the “borderless market”.
 
Kraisin Vongsurakrai, vice president of the Food and Agriculture Business Committee and the Board of Trade's International Trade Rules and Negotiations Committee, said that  though the integration of the Asean countries could boost export growth and employment domestically, it's the government that should urgently start developing the farming sector, developing the “quantity and quality” of their products  which will become an increasingly important factor affecting the Asean farming sector.  
 
(By Joyce Rainat)
 

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