By PHUWIT LIMVIPHUWAT
China is committed to facilitating a strong partnership with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand (CLMVT), Yang Yang, counsellor for political affairs at the Chinese embassy in Bangkok, said yesterday at a seminar addressing the infrastructure-focused OBOR initiative and its role in the CLMVT subregion.
The OBOR initiative is an economic development strategy put forward by the Chinese government that addresses infrastructure needs and the development of trading routes covering more than 65 countries, including Thailand its near neighbours.
China will ensure that its investments that further the OBOR vision will also benefit the domestic policies and goals of each country in the CLMVT bloc. In the case of Thailand, it will gear its investment to support the government's technology-promoting Thailand 4.0 policy and the development of the EEC, Yang said.
She cited planned investments in the manufacturing industry in Rayong province, which is part of the EEC. This is not only so that Chinese businesses can benefit from these investments but also to increase the production capabilities in Thailand, further supporting economic cooperation in the CLMVT subregion, Yang said.
Furthermore, China understands that agriculture is at the root of the economies of the CLMVT countries. Hence, it will further invest in the development of agricultural technologies in these countries to support low-income farmers, Yang said.
The total value of proposed investment both in Rayong and in agricultural technology was not disclosed at the event.
China’s investment plans in Thailand go hand in hand with Bangkok’s economic policy towards the Asean region disclosed at the seminar yesterday, which comes with a heavy emphasis on trade.
Push for connectivity
As the next host of the Asean summits next year, Thailand aims to push for more connectivity within the region, says Sakon Varanyuwatana, Thailand’s Vice Minister of Commerce.
“This includes encouraging the development of cross-border logistics to reduce transportation costs for exporting businesses within the region, and to improve trade regulations between countries to allow for more convenience in trade,” he said.
Thailand will also be putting more emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as their exports within the Asean region have been overshadowed by big businesses, despite SMEs making up more than 95 per cent of total businesses in Thailand, according to Sakon. Additionally, Thailand will push for the development of e-commerce businesses with the aim of increasing trade among the CLMVT countries.
In a separate event yesterday, Wu Zhi Yi, president of the Asian International Trade and Investment Association, said that as a result of the US-China trade war, China is looking to increase the value of trade with the Asean region in order to mitigate its risks.
“The trade war has led to an increased economic cooperation between China and Asean countries, which has always been strong. Furthermore, China has been the biggest trader with countries in the Asean region in the past nine years,” Wu said.
“In 2017, the trade value between China and Asean countries stood at US$514 billion, increasing by 6.6 times from 2003. The trade value between China and Asean countries in the first five months of this year stood at US$236 billion, increasing by 18.9 per cent compared to the same period last year.
“We expect the trade value between China and Asean in 2018 to be even higher than last year.”