Prayut bullish ahead of Asean summit

Prayut bullish ahead of Asean summit

PM talks up record as bloc's leaders arrive

Thailand will host the two-day Asean summit on Saturday and Sunday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Thailand will host the two-day Asean summit on Saturday and Sunday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Thailand now has political stability and has resolved its internal conflicts, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told Asean business leaders on Friday.

"We have been able to overcome challenges to our political situation, and resolved chronic problems which have impeded economic and social development, such as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, or IUU, and human trafficking, in addition to facilitating the business sector," he said in a speech at the Bloomberg Asean Business Summit in Bangkok. It was a sideline forum ahead of the 34th Asean Summit for which leaders of the 10 Asean countries will meet in Bangkok on Saturday.

"Thailand is prepared in terms of political stability, policy continuation and strong economic fundamentals. The new government stands ready to carry forward the policies set forth by the current administration," he said.

As the chair of Asean in 2019, he said Thailand will work with the bloc to address the challenges it faces through cooperation and embracing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between the member states and six dialogue partners: China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

"Trade conflicts between major powers have affected the global trade and investment climate and may lead to an eventual trade war. In addition, we are faced with the challenge of the 4th Industrial Revolution, which includes disruptive technology and innovation that will affect the global economy, including people from all walks of life," he said.

"I am confident that Thailand and Asean are capable of coping with these challenges, and that we can act as a stable platform for trade and investment and be the solution that caters to the needs of investors worldwide. In addition, we will maintain Asean centrality in the regional architecture amidst major power competition in the region," he said.

"We expect to conclude RCEP this year. It will be an economic grouping that has the highest value in the world. Its combined GDP is worth one third of the global GDP, which will enable Asean to generate further economic growth in the region," he said.

Despite Gen Prayut's assurance that "Asean and Thailand are ready", his cabinet has still not been formed after the election three months ago.

Lawmakers backed Gen Prayut to return as premier in a parliamentary vote held more than two months after a disputed general election on March 24. The former army chief seized power in a coup in 2014 after a period of unrest, ushering in one of the country's longest spells under a junta until this year's election.

He now leads a sprawling 19-party, pro-military coalition with only a slim majority in the Lower House, leading to speculation his administration may not complete its four-year term.

Gen Prayut was elected prime minister in a joint vote of the elected lower chamber and regime-appointed Senate on June 5.

The cabinet lineup list was reportedly only settled a few days ago, after conflicts and negotiations between the core Palang Pracharath Party and its coalition partners.

The histories of the ministers-to-be are being examined before their proposal for royal endorsement.

Asean leaders will have meetings with representatives of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, representatives of Asean Youth and representatives of the Asean Business Advisory Council this afternoon before the plenary session of the 34th Asean Summit and the gala dinner.

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