By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
Thailand and Myanmar have agreed to adopt the Mae Sot-Myawaddy model for expanding trade, investment and economic cooperation between the two countries, and to establish border-trade fairs soon.
After the seventh Thailand-Myanmar Joint Trade Commission (JTC) meeting in Nay Pyi Taw last week with her Myanmar counterpart Than Myint, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said the neighbouring countries could promote more trade and investment through closer cooperation among government agencies and their respective private sectors.
Thailand and Myanmar aim to increase bilateral trade to between US$10 billion and $12 billion next year, from $7.74 billion (Bt272 billion) in 2015.
Under the Mae Sot-Myawaddy model, the two sides aim to double border trade, set up local business councils, establish a Thai-Myanmar border trade committee, develop cross-border logistics, develop retail and wholesale trading and service centres (health, tourism and education service) at the Mae Sot-Myawaddy Special Economic Zone, mobilise a labour task force, facilitate cooperation in tourism, and establishing of sister-city arrangement between Mae Sot and Myawaddy.
“Thailand and Myanmar have agreed to take the agreement into an action plan so that trade, investment and tourism between two countries can grow strongly. Thailand will also organise border-trade fairs in Mae Sot this year as a measure to support trade growth between the two countries,” Apiradi said.
Myanmar has agreed to adjust its rules of origin to facilitate more trade among Asean member states. It has also promised to allow more Thai banks to open branches in Myanmar in the near future.
Thailand will provide an advisory service for Thai investors wanting to do business in Myanmar.
At the JTC meeting, the ministers also discussed cooperation to set up a CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) Business Council led by the private sector to solve trade-related problems.
According to Commerce Ministry data, Myanmar is Thailand’s eight-largest trading partner in Asean, and its 15th-largest globally.
During the past five years, bilateral trade has been worth $7.37 billion on average. In 2015, trade was valued $7.74 billion, with exports from Thailand worth $4.17 billion. Border trade accounted for 80 per cent or $6.23 billion.