The pioneer meeting of the Economic Cooperation Strategy (ecs) trading bloc was held in Myanmar in November. The brainchild of Bangkok, the ecs aims to strengthen Thailand’s trade and economic relations with Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
The ecs, along with various other free‑trade agreements that Thailand has recently struck with its neighbors, is an assertive move that illustrates the influence and scope of the promising Thai economy in the East. “Thailand’s current efforts … will help provide it with cheap raw commodities and deeper trade links, making it an increasingly popular manufacturing base as well as a hub for pan‑Asian trade. These efforts will help attract new investment and drive Thai markets, giving them substantial long‑term growth potential. …
“Thailand has managed to make itself needed—not only to its impoverished neighbors but also to the major powers competing for economic and political influence in Asia” (www.stratfor.com, Nov. 10; emphasis ours).
Thailand’s growing influence over the Indochina region (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) and Myanmar has led to this small, often unnoticed country being courted by global powers China, Japan and the United States.
Indochina is strategically critical for Chinese interests in Southeast Asia. Thailand is China’s land link to Malaysia and Indonesia to the south. Via its peninsular coastline, it possesses ready sea access to India as well as to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. In the wider sense, its economic success and strategic location make it a ready hinge on which events impacting China, India and the Pacific may easily turn.
Thailand’s growing pre‑eminence in the region will simply act as a catalyst for Japan and China to accelerate their efforts to develop a common market for greater Asia, which would ensure their dominance in the region. As Thai influence continues to grow, watch China and Japan attempt to draw on this strength by pushing to form regional alliances that include Thailand.
What we are witnessing in Indochina right now is setting the stage for greater trade alliance within Asia—a precursor to greater military alliance prophesied in the Bible.