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Thailand, Laos target big jump in bilateral trade

Jan 27. 2020
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By The Nation

Thailand and Laos will hold negotiations late next month with the goal of giving a big boost to bilateral trade next year.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of Thailand’s Trade Negotiations Department, revealed that on February 25-26 there will be a meeting of the Thai-Laos cooperation plan at the ministerial level. There will also be a meeting between the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Laos in Bangkok with the goal of promoting cooperation in trade and investment.

They aim to nearly double bilateral trade from the 2016 figure of $5.9 billion to around $11 billion by 2021, she said.

In 2018, bilateral trade amounted to $6.73 billion, increasing by 9.21 per cent over 2017 with Thailand enjoying a trade surplus. Thai exports to Laos amounted to $4.12 billion and Thai imports from Laos were valued at $2.61 billion.

Laos is Thailand's 21st biggest partner in the world market and eighth largest trading partner in Asean. Exports included refined oil, cars, equipment and components, livestock products, iron, steel, chemicals and cosmetics, soaps, etc while major imports were fuel (electricity), metal ore, electrical machinery and components, electrical appliances, vegetables, fruits, cement, etc.

Meanwhile, the third meeting of the Thai-Maldives Joint Trade Committee (JTC) at the ministerial level will also be held. The Maldives is Thailand’s 84th largest trading partner in the world market and the fifth in South Asia behind India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The meeting aims to promote investment and reduce trade barriers, especially in tourism. The Maldives has many tourists visiting each year, resulting in tourism investment, especially in the service sector, hotels, restaurants, spas, etc. Therefore, there is a need for construction equipment, furniture, various machinery including personnel who will help service training and premium products for tourists, she said.

“This is an opportunity for Thailand to expand further in accordance with the policy of Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce,” she added.

Trade between Thailand and Maldives during the first 11 months of 2019 (January to November) was valued at $170.28 million. Thai exports accounted for $108.60 million. Exports included motorcycles and components, plastic products, clothes, furniture, machinery and mechanical components. Thailand’s imports totalled $61.69 million, including products such as fresh, chilled, frozen, processed and semi-processed aquatic animals, metal products, textile products and publications etc.

“Maldives is a tourist destination that many tourists want to visit. Therefore, the restaurant, spa, and hotel service businesses are likely to grow. It is an opportunity for Thailand which has potential in this field to invest and open the market for premium products,” said Auramon.

Auramon said the 12th Thailand-India JTC Meeting is expected to take place in March in New Delhi while the Thailand-South Africa JTC meeting at senior officer level will be held on February 18 in Pretoria.

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