Straits Times: “Myanmar firms jittery over upcoming AEC”

Nirmal Ghosh | SEP 24, 2015

The town sits on the banks of the Thanlwin about 300km from Yangon, the commercial centre of about 420,000 people. It is the capital of Kayin state, where a fear of the unknown has become pervasive, especially among small farmers working the land along the border with Thailand.

Mr Thuta Aung, 38, had been sent to consult about the source of their worry: the upcoming Asean Economic Community (AEC).

But there should be neither great expectations nor great fears of the AEC anyway, argues Singapore-based Hans Vriens, managing partner of Vriens & Partners. “People get scared because they have not fully understood what is going to happen,” he told The Straits Times. “Nobody should be scared, because nothing is going to happen. The problem is government leaders are misleading the public by making grand statements about what they are aiming for.”

While the AEC kicks off on Jan 1 next year, there will be no big bang. Myanmar, along with Laos and Cambodia, has until 2018 to adjust to the required changes – a good thing, analysts say, because the country needs the buffer.

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