Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha arrives in Clark for Asean Summit
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Pampanga — Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha arrived here just in time for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits.
The Thai plane carrying Chan-o-Cha has landed at 1:55 p.m. at the Clark International Airport. He was welcomed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
Chan-o-cha is set to meet President Rodrigo Duterte and other Asean leaders and its dialogue partners in the next three days in different venues in Manila.
The Philippines is the chair of this year’s Asean Summit, which coincides with the regional bloc’s 50th anniversary.
Chan-o-cha is the former commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army and was appointed by a military junta in 2014.
Thailand, a founding member of the Asean, is classified as an upper middle income level economy, upgraded in 2011 by the World Bank. It is the Asean’s third-largest country in terms of land area with 513,120 square kilometers, and ranks fourth highest GDP per capita with US$5,907.9.
Despite the years of political crisis and divide, Thailand’s economy remains strong and fervent. Though it posted the third-lowest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in 2016 at 2.9 percent, the country had the second highest GDP at $406.8 billion, next to Indonesia. But it fell short in terms of foreign direct investments with $1.7 billion, the third lowest in the region.
Thailand’s economy relies on services sector, which comprise nearly half of the country’s economy and has greatly contributed to its development. Politically, however, the military-run government has to address serious issues of political repression—particularly over members of opposition demanding reforms—and corruption, the most recent of which was the case of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was recently found guilty by the Thai Supreme Court of mismanaging a rice subsidy program. /je
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