Academics in Thailand are hoping to establish a fund to help finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Thailand to the tune of 1 billion baht. The proposed fund is intended to help local companies secure investment in time for the opening of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), which will take place next year.
The fund would like;y be supported by a combined effort of government and the private sector. It is thought that it would help Thai manufacturers to expand their operations internationally.
The call for the new fund was made by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Center for International Trade Studies, which recently completed a study to determine the readiness of Thailand’s SMEs to integrate with the AEC. Out of the more than half a million SMEs surveyed, 63 percent said they may not be ready for the start of the AEC on December 31, 2015. According to the center’s director, Mr. Aat Pisanwanich, “These operators need more time, about two and a half more years or by the end of 2016, for AEC integration.”
While larger companies mostly believed that they will b ready in time, many SMEs lacked information on how the AEC would affect their business operations. The lack of preparation—due to the failure of the government to properly educate SMEs on the full impact that AEC is expected to have—could force some to go out of business soon after the changes come into effect. Notably, many SMEs are involved in labor-intensive areas such as textiles, auto parts manufacturing, and various agricultural endeavors, which could be strongly affected by a shift in the manual labor market.