By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
COMMERCE Minister General Chatchai Sarikalya will lead a delegation to Tokyo from Wednesday to Saturday with the aim of promoting more trade and investment between Thailand and Japan.
A senior trade official at the Commerce Ministry said the mission was originally targeted at promoting more exports to Japan after Thai shipments to the market dropped during the first four months of the year.
However, with clearer signs of a Japanese economic recovery, Thailand will use the opportunity to seek to strengthen bilateral ties in promoting more trade and investment for both sides.
“This year, exports from Thailand to Japan are projected to expand by about 2 per cent, from a 1.9-per-cent contraction in 2014. The ministry will work more closely with private enterprises and other agencies to promote not only more exports to Japan, but also more investment between the two nations,” said the source.
According to the International Trade Promotion Department, Thai exports to Japan declined by 7.8 per cent in the first four months of the year to US$6.73 billion (Bt226.5 billion).
However, this April, exports declined by only 3 per cent, indicating a brighter outlook for expanding shipments to Japan.
Somkiat Triratpan, director of the ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Bureau, said that despite declining shipments, Thai products had gained a larger share of the Japanese market, reflecting more opportunity for exporters to increase their business with the country.
Last year, Thai products had a 2.68-per-cent market share in Japan, but this had risen to 3.14 per cent in the first quarter of this year, he said.
Japan is Thailand’s fourth-largest export market, after Asean, the United States and China.
To promote more bilateral trade and investment, Chatchai is this week scheduled to discuss enhanced economic cooperation with Yoichi Miyazawa, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry.
He will also meet with the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries with a view to strengthening trade and cooperation in the agricultural sector.
Moreover, the commerce minister and his delegation will meet with representatives from the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) to hear and voice the opinions of enterprises on solving trade- and investment-related problems and promoting increased bilateral activity.
Among the companies scheduled to meet the delegation are rice-importing firms Kitoku Shinyo, Sugawara Seiman and Gargil; Itochu Corp from the electronics sector; and Nissan Motor and Toyota Motor.
The minister will also meet with Japanese firms from industries such as tyres, chicken products, textiles, auto-parts imports, spas and spa products.