Tariffs on 7,881 goods traded between six ASEAN founding nations were lifted Friday, signaling better economic prospects for producers and consumers alike.
The elimination of tariffs by Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand is a step toward an integrated ASEAN economy, with the remaining countries - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - set to join in 2015.
The six countries can now import and export 54,457 types of products, or 99.11 percent of all traded goods, across their borders at no cost, under the Common Effective Preferential Tariffs for ASEAN Free Trade Area, in place since 1992.
With the removal of these tariffs, the ASEAN markets are now wide open for Thai car and motorcycle manufacturers. On the down side the motorcycle industry in Thailand is likely to survive the competition. But times for manufacturers who not innovate fast enough will be quickly overrun by cheaper products from other ASEAN.
An FTA between China and ASEAN also took effect as the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, ending tariffs on 90 percent of goods.
The export prospects for the Thai automotive industry are also looking up, with the removal of these tariffs, the ASEAN markets / exports may rise in following years.