Thailand takes over ASEAN chairmanship

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) handed over the gavel to his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-ocha.

The chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formally turned over on November 15, with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong handing over the gavel to his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-ocha.

In accepting the 2019 presidency, the retired Royal Thai Army general said his country would prioritise the bloc’s stability, development and economic growth through “trust, respect and mutual benefit”.

According to the ASEAN Charter, the chairmanship rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of member countries. Thailand’s last stint was in 2008 and 2009, when the country underwent another severe political crisis while presiding the bloc for an unprecedented 18-month term from mid-2008 through December 2009. The current military government has hopes that unrest will not spoil its year in the spotlight in 2019 with elections expected to be held in February.

Thailand will also have to navigate through outright challenges for the bloc. Among them will be concluding negotiations on a free trade agreement with Australia, China, South Korea, India, Japan, and New Zealand, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Other issues were “trade and political competition, disruptive technologies, transnational crime, inequities and transformation in the region’s social structure,” according to Chan-ocha.

Thailand’s key priorities as the new chair, he said, included boosting connectivity in infrastructure, rules and regulations and “people-to-people links” to create a seamless ASEAN. Another focus was sustainability, be it in security, economic growth, the green economy or development.

Thailand’s chairmanship begins on January 1, 2019 and lasts until the end of the year. The country is expected to host nearly 200 meetings on various levels in the period.

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Reading Time: 1 minute

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) handed over the gavel to his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-ocha.

The chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formally turned over on November 15, with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong handing over the gavel to his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-ocha.

Reading Time: 1 minute

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) handed over the gavel to his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-ocha.

The chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formally turned over on November 15, with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong handing over the gavel to his Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-ocha.

In accepting the 2019 presidency, the retired Royal Thai Army general said his country would prioritise the bloc’s stability, development and economic growth through “trust, respect and mutual benefit”.

According to the ASEAN Charter, the chairmanship rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of member countries. Thailand’s last stint was in 2008 and 2009, when the country underwent another severe political crisis while presiding the bloc for an unprecedented 18-month term from mid-2008 through December 2009. The current military government has hopes that unrest will not spoil its year in the spotlight in 2019 with elections expected to be held in February.

Thailand will also have to navigate through outright challenges for the bloc. Among them will be concluding negotiations on a free trade agreement with Australia, China, South Korea, India, Japan, and New Zealand, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Other issues were “trade and political competition, disruptive technologies, transnational crime, inequities and transformation in the region’s social structure,” according to Chan-ocha.

Thailand’s key priorities as the new chair, he said, included boosting connectivity in infrastructure, rules and regulations and “people-to-people links” to create a seamless ASEAN. Another focus was sustainability, be it in security, economic growth, the green economy or development.

Thailand’s chairmanship begins on January 1, 2019 and lasts until the end of the year. The country is expected to host nearly 200 meetings on various levels in the period.

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