On June 26, 2020, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered a statement at the Dialogue session between ASEAN leaders and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), held via a video conference as part of the 36th ASEAN Summit. Gist of his statement is as follows:
The Prime Minister mentioned COVID-19 pandemic which has severely impacted both the health and safety of human lives, as well as the global economic trading system, and emphasized the necessity for ASEAN to maintain a balance between public health and economic recovery, to ensure that the business sector and industries are able to continue operations undisrupted. He also reiterated that the system of production chains at the national, regional and global levels must also carry on, with ASEAN as a key link and driver.
According to the Prime Minister, Thailand fully recognizes the importance of private sector involvement in responding to and handling the COVID-19 situation in a precise, comprehensive and effective manner. In its engagement with the private sector, the Thai Government prioritizes promotion of sustainable cooperation on the basis of the "3Rs”:
1. "Responsiveness” This means promptly responding to economic impacts, such as though jointly exploring different transportation channels for the delivery of goods during "lockdown” in order to distribute them to the public, and to transport goods from producers and exporters out through the supply chain. At the regional level, there have been regular and ongoing discussions, exchanges of information and proactive collaboration with the governments of ASEAN Member States.
2. "Recovery” This refers to strong economic recovery, focusing on maintaining open markets for trade and investment through promoting the full utilization of existing FTAs. It also means exploring further opportunities to negotiate free trade agreements with countries that hold potential, such as through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
3. "Resilience” This refers to the flexibility to respond to pandemics or other types of public health emergencies in the future. This is achieved through hastening development of the digital economy and e-commerce, as well as benefiting from digital technology for industrial production and trade facilitation.
Thailand also stands ready to fully support the private sector in order to strengthen the ASEAN region’s ability to respond to the current crisis, with an aim to return ASEAN as a region with one of the highest economic growth rates in the world once again, as well as an important manufacturing base ready for foreign direction investment.