Thailand takes up ASEAN chairmanship

Thailand takes up the leadership role during a troubled time for the region.

Thailand takes up ASEAN chairmanship

02/01/19

Luke Foddy, Communications Manager

The annual chairmanship of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) passes to Thailand for 2019, following last year’s tenure by Singapore.

Thailand takes up the leadership role during a troubled time for the region, with US-China tensions heralding new political and economic pressures for the bloc. The trade war could see regional supply chains disrupted and the reshoring of US companies, according to the Bangkok Post.

To counter these challenges, there will be increasing pressure to make progress on free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Asean Plus Six and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – an agenda that the ASEAN chair will be expected to push.

However, there are rumblings of concern among some ASEAN members around Thailand’s ability to push that agenda, given the country’s delicate political situation, The Nation reports.

Thailand is expected to hold elections in 2019 – the first since the military coup in 2014. And with the country still bearing deep political divisions, there is uncertainty around the outcome.

Some analysts are concerned that instability in Thailand could affect Bangkok’s capacity to execute its ASEAN chairmanship with the vigour required for a tough year for the region.