Aat Pisanwanich, director of the International Trade Studies Centre at the university, said SMEs that were not ready for the AEC were largely in the leather, furniture, rice, ceramic and rubber industries.
He said 42.4% of the unready SMEs said they were waiting for a clear-cut assistance framework from the government, 30% did not have any information on the AEC, 18.5% said they did not have the money to adjust their business and 9.3% said they were small manufacturers and could not adjust in time and wanted the government to set up an SME fund to directly support them.
Only 7.3 per cent of the surveyed SMEs, mostly textile, garment, pulp and paper, plastic, jewelry, automobile and auto-parts and electrical appliances industries, were well-prepared for the introduction of the AEC, said Dr Aat.
“The survey outcome is worrying because not many SMEs are ready for the AEC’s debut, yet AEC will come into being in only two years and four months.
“At this time, at least 50% of the SMEs should be ready. If most of them fail to make preparations it will affect trade. The country’s market share in Asean could disappear.
“More importantly, more industrial products from the countries that have supporting funds will flood the Thai market,” he said.
The director said if AEC's debut in 2015 were really postponed for another year, as has been speculated, it would be good for all countries involved as they will have more time to get ready.