Myanmar will be able to join the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is planned for late 2015, only in 2018 as the country is not ready for a fruitful integration, according to the country’s apex business association.
Myanmar, together with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, commonly referred to as CLMV countries, were granted an extended timeline for full accession into AEC last year.
“[We] are not ready to compete with other more developed countries in the region when the economic barriers are discarded,” said U Win Aung, chairperson of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).
“The deadline has been pushed back as our local businesses have limited competitiveness. We expect to prepare our best in three years’ time,” he added.
U Win Aung said Local firms need basic supports from all sources to prepare for AEC.
AEC, which aims to integrate all the ASEAN member countries into a single market with over 600 million people, will be essential for the growth in trade and development of the regional bloc. But experts say local industries must be strengthened to face the challenges once the trade and workforce start flowing free.
“The preparation of individual regions and states is crucial while a steady support from the government is also necessary,” said U Hla Shein, chairman of the Mon State Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
AEC implementation will tear down barriers to allow free flow of goods and labour and a study is required to assess the challenges Myanmar needs to overcome to be able to compete with the potential influx of foreign goods and expertise, economists say.