Monday, 29 December 2014

ASEAN Common Time (ACT)

In 2015 the ASEAN group of nations will officially come together to implement the ASEAN free trade area. This is essentially a trading block which in theory should allow each member country to benefit by standing together with its neighbours in areas of trade and commerce. The concept is similar to the EU and the EEA and such as was experienced in Europe its is likely that its implementation will be rolled out slowly over many years. 

The issue of free movement of labour and capital will probably become a contentious issue as the union progresses and there have even been talks of a common currency being implemented at some stage. One of the most interesting changes that has been discussed is the implementation of a common time zone which would be used throughout the ASEAN region.

ASEAN common time or ACT is seen as a way to increase commerce between member states as they strive to develop the ASEAN economy. The most discussed option is to align all the ASEAN member states to the GMT+8 time zone. This is the time zone which is currently used in Singapore and Malaysia two of the most developed countries in the region. This is also the timezone which is used by mainland China and its special administrative zones, which are an important trading partner for the region. 

There have been arguments against the implementation of a common time zone from member states particularly Myanmar and the furthest eastern islands of Indonesia. The concept on the whole however does seems to make sense, at least economically, although there may well be agricultural implications. It would not only benefit trade between the member nations but would also better facilitate trade with China, a trading partner who is likely to be vital for ASEAN over the coming decades. 

From a personal point of view I would love Thailand to move to the GMT+8 time zone. I can't speak for those who live in the north of the country but those here in the south would only see benefits. In Thailand if you leave work at 5 o'clock you only have about an hour of daylight left to enjoy. I really love that extra hour of daylight that you get when you visit Malaysia or Singapore. It really makes your day seem longer and more valuable, much like summer in the UK when it gets dark really late. 

I hope we will see ASEAN common time in the future at GMT+8 so we can all start enjoying more daylight in the evening!

1 comment:

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