OECD increases engagement with Southeast Asia further – Opens accession discussions with Thailand

18/06/2024 – The Council of the OECD has decided to open accession discussions with Thailand, making it the second country from Southeast Asia to become an OECD accession candidate this year.

The decision builds on many years of increasing co-operation and engagement with Thailand, including through two phases of a dedicated OECD-Thailand Country Programme since 2018, supporting Thailand’s reform agenda focused on becoming a high-income country by 2038.

Since its establishment in 2014, Thailand has also been a very active participant in the OECD’s Southeast Asia Regional Programme (SEARP) serving as co-chair with Korea between 2018 and 2022.

“With Indonesia and now Thailand, OECD Members have made decisions to open accession discussions with both the biggest and second biggest economies in Southeast Asia, one of the most dynamic growth regions of the world,” OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said.

“It is a clear demonstration of the OECD’s commitment to further strengthen, deepen and broaden our active engagement with Southeast Asia, a region of strategic priority for our Organisation,” he said.

“The accession processes will benefit Indonesia and Thailand as well as the OECD. Adherence to OECD standards and best practices will have a beneficial impact on development and growth for accession countries and the region more generally, and the OECD’s work will benefit from the important input of the two most significant economies of Southeast Asia, supporting our Organisation’s global relevance and impact,” Secretary-General Cormann said.

Over the past decade, Thailand has significantly increased its participation in OECD bodies, policy reviews, and selected databases, and has already adhered to a number of OECD legal instruments.

The first three-year Country Programme signed in May 2018 focused on governance, transparency, competitive business conditions and inclusive growth.

In March 2023, the Programme was renewed for a second phase, bringing in a green recovery workstream and aiming to continue bringing the country closer to OECD standards.

“Since the 1960s, Thailand has achieved remarkable economic and social progress, becoming one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to open its economy, actively pursue integration into global value chains and attract foreign direct investment,” Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said.

“The accession process to the OECD will help anchor Thailand’s reform agenda moving forward – further improving its attractiveness as an investment destination, to help drive further growth and improvements in incomes and living standards,” he said.

The decision to open accession discussions responds to a formal request from Thailand in February 2024 and follows an assessment by OECD member countries conducted on the basis of the Organisation’s evidence-based Framework for the Consideration of Prospective Members.

A draft accession roadmap for the technical review process will now be prepared by the Secretary-General for the consideration of the OECD Council.

The review process will include a rigorous and in-depth evaluation by more than 20 technical committees of Thailand’s alignment with OECD standards, policies and best practices. As a result of these technical reviews, recommendations will be made on further areas for reform, to align Thailand’s legislation, policies and practices with OECD standards and best practices.

The technical reviews will cover a wide range of policy areas and will focus on priority issues including open trade and investment, progress on public governance, integrity and anti-corruption efforts, as well as the effective protection of the environment and action to tackle climate change.

There is no deadline for completion of the accession processes. The outcome and timeline depend on the accession country’s capacity to adapt and adjust to align with OECD standards and best practices. Once all the technical committees have completed their reviews and are consistent with article 16 of the OECD Convention, a final decision to issue an invitation to join will need to be taken by unanimity of all OECD Members.

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