Asean Economic Community (AEC) Free flow of skilled labor

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an organization which was incorporated according to Bangkok Declaration. ASEAN is aimed to create stability and development in terms of politics, economic, social and culture among the member States. The members of ASEAN are 10 countries in total, namely: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. The ASEAN has incorporated the -ASEAN Economic Community- with the objective to promote the single market and manufacturing base within Asia. Moreover, it also aims to freely move products, services, investments, capitals as well as skilled labors between the members within year 2015.

As mentioned previously, one of the co-operations between the ASEAN is free movement or freely flow of skilled labors. As a result, Thailand, as an ASEAN member, has already signed the Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) to facilitate the mutual recognition of the qualification of important professions. The MRAs has indicated the qualification of each profession to accommodate the moving of professions and skilled labor within the member countries. Therefore, the professions’ qualifications have to comply with the standard as specified in the MRAs. However, even the freely move of the skilled labor is the main objective of AEC, the regulations of entry permit and working permit have to still comply with each member countries’ rule, for example, the permit or the license for each profession.

Nonetheless, not all professions are moved freely. As yet, ASEAN has started with seven (7) professions, as specified in the MRAs, which are Doctors, Nurses, Engineers, Examiners, Architectures, Dentists and Accountants. The other professions are still in consideration and have not yet agreed between the members. Therefore, the restricted of 39 jobs to Thai national are still reserved for Thai national with the hope that the future mutual agreement between the member shall come into place.

To effect the above, Thailand has to amend three relevant laws which are currently restricted foreigners to work in Thailand: Alien Working Act, Act of Skill Development and Labor Relations Act.

Besides the freely move of skilled labor, the ASEAN has also stipulated the directions or stages of operation of an ASEAN economic; for example, timeline for tariff reduction and timeline for revoking non-tax measures.

Rachel Pachica blogs about legal issues, as well as blogging in general. She is the Marketing Manager at Siam Legal International, a top tier Law Firm in Thailand.

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