By PHUWIT LIMVIPHUWAT
Doubledigit trade growth with China Ministry pushes agricultural exports from Thai SMEs via competition
The Commerce Ministry aims to increase bilateral trade with China by 12 per cent this year, focusing on boosting the exports of Thai agricultural products.
“Despite the ongoing US-China trade war, Thai exports to China have been growing continuously since 2018,” said Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) under the Commerce Ministry, at a seminar entitled “Opportunities to Penetrate the Chinese Market with an FTA” last Friday.
The event was jointly organised by the Commerce Ministry and the Panyapiwat Institute of Management.
China is currently Thailand’s biggest trading partner. In 2018, trade value with China stood at US$80.136 billion, increasing by 8.7 per cent year on year.
“We aim to boost Thai-Chinese trade by 12 per cent this year and have set a target of $140 billion for 2021”, she said.
The ministry will promote exports of farm produce and processed products to China from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Thai agricultural industry, the director-general said.
Thailand has a free trade agreement (FTA) with China which also covers agricultural exports, Auramon stated.
However, there are many exporters in the agricultural sector who are not aware of their FTA privฌileges when exporting to China. Furthermore, they may not possess the relevant knowledge on regulatory standards, intellectual property licensing and effective strategies,” she said.
In 2018, only 58.4 per cent of Thailand’s total exports to China enjoyed privileges under the trade deal, according to the Commerce Ministry.
Hence, the department will organise “DTN Business Plan Award 2019” in support of Thai SMEs looking for export opportunities to China, she stated.
In the initial stage, 15 teams with a maximum of two persons each, will be selected to join the programme. Applications for the competition commence on April 10.
The 15 teams selected will join the “Techniques to Penetrate the Chinese Market with an FTA” boot camp for three days, from April 25 to 27. They will then pitch their business plans to a panel of judges on May 13.
Thereafter, five teams will be shortlisted to participate in the 10th China (Shanghai) International Catering Food and Beverage Exhibition 2019 from July 57. “Exporters should find new business opportunities in China’s fast-growing new cities, such as Chongqing, Chengdu and Xi An,” she continued.
“Businesses should also utilise e-commerce to boost their exports and further penetrate the Chinese market, which has seen an upsurge in online trade.”
Auramon said while the outcome of the ongoing US-China trade negotiations remains unclear, a prolonged trade war between the two countries would impact Thai exports.
Despite the drop in the exports of computer parts, electronic goods and automotive parts last year, Thailand’s overall shipments to China have not been affected.
In the event of the trade war intensifying, the 12 per cent growth target for Thai-Chinese trade may have to be revised, she warned.