Thailand's Freight Forwarders and Shipowners positive about ASEAN's 2015 single market

Thailand's 17,000 logistics firms, 90% locally owned, are generally positive about the ASEAN Economic Community, believing they stand to gain more than they will lose when the single market takes full effect in 2015, according to Somsak Wisetruangrot, President of the Thai International Freight Forwarders Association.

"We [freight forwarders] are not afraid of capital inflows from ASEAN investors as we have faced many foreigners doing business in Thailand," he said as quoted by The Nation.

He said every agreement regarding the AEC normally has conditions, which each country would have to apply on an equal basis, so local companies should not be worried about the freer flows of services, investment, capital and labour.

He also noted that foreign workers would be limited to skilled labour or those that will run a port or would have to be appointed as shipping agents.

Singapore had developed because it was a port city with expanding activities. Thailand could grow the same way if the laws related to transshipment and border trade were revised to allow flows of goods. Once there were enough activities at ports, there would be growth, but rules and regulations for transshipments should be relaxed more, he said.

Suwat Asavathongkul, Chairman of the Bangkok Shipowners and Agents Association, said that once the ASEAN-wide market was fully implemented, shipping forwarders, which see 40% of their total costs spent on fuel, would tend to do more outsourcing.

Short hauls are expected to increase as the AEC economy expands, while new vessels tend to be bigger, compared with carriers of 18,000 20-foot equivalent containers on average currently, so Laem Chabang Port should be increased in scale.

"We have to connect rail, which is now a bottleneck of the logistics system, to other transport modes to promote multimodal transport," he said.