Given its location in the centre of ASEAN, which constitutes the immense buying power of more than 600m people, many countries are keeping an eye on Thailand. The country, which is situated in a strategic location for logistics and transport in the ASEAN region, has become a vital industrial centre, and has a manufacturing base with rapid growth in both economic size and regional importance.

Thailand and the ASEAN community have the same intention, which is to enhance the potential of members and further regional competitiveness through mutual collaboration. Such a vital partnership will not only help increase trade opportunities, investment and tourism, but also strengthen mutual stability among ASEAN countries. Thailand is committed to building strong relationships with neighbouring countries and the other countries of Asia, with a focus on fortifying the regional economy by promoting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Infrastructure investment will transform Thailand into a regional centre, connecting the ASEAN region to other areas. There are several initiatives that will yield concrete results in 2016 – for example, the establishment of infrastructure funds for the purpose of raising new capital in the international markets and investing in the country’s regional infrastructure development projects. Through this, we will see a substantial advancement, as well as less reliance on government funding. Another initiative is the enforcement of the Digital Network Act. This will act as a platform for transitioning to a digital economy, in which IT is utilised to connect activities in business, trade, education and other strategic projects. There are also rail development projects in four different routes connecting the ASEAN region to China. The projects were launched in partnership with China to celebrate the 40th-year anniversary of the relationship bond between our two countries. These development projects will not only enable Thailand to be a regional train control centre, but also an important manufacturing base for parts and tools used by the regions’ locomotive industry.

With the king’s principle of “Understanding, Reaching Out and Development” and the royal philosophy on sufficiency economy as guidance, the people of Thailand are advancing towards the same goals with a mutual understanding. Recognising existing problems and reaching out to resolve them are what determine success in establishing the happiness and well-being of the Thai people. With regard to economic issues, our main goal is to improve the quality of life of the people as well as to generate and increase revenue, while cutting down on costs and expenses and raising commodity prices in order to accommodate the sufficiency of earnings and sustainable living. In preparation for integration with the ASEAN Economic Community, we have ensured our readiness in human resources by cultivating knowledge and diverse skill sets, promoting education and development of expertise in areas including linguistic skills. Such preparation will support development in areas of trade and investment. In the area of technology, development and modernisation have been extended throughout Thailand. Businesses of all sizes have developed IT systems that are supporting one another to build strong networks.

Thailand is determined to wisely utilise raw materials and natural resources within the country to develop value-added industries. In order to facilitate trades and investments from overseas, the government is reducing unnecessary trade barriers, such as complicated procedures and regulations. These projects are of great importance to the government.

Now is a crucial time for Thailand. The country is going through reforms in all areas. It is also a very important time for ASEAN, as Thailand is determined to support regional growth and development through the numerous areas of strengths that we possess.