Thailand eyes farm goods barter deal in payment for Chinese frigate

THURSDAY, MAY 09, 2024

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang said he will try to devise a new barter deal with the Chinese government, in which Thailand pays the extra amount in the controversial submarine deal in farm goods.

The minister told reporters on Thursday that the Defence Ministry will do its best to protect the national interest and will try to negotiate a barter deal if possible.

He said a Chinese delegation, including military officials, is scheduled to visit Thailand this month for a new round of talks to resolve the long-delayed submarine procurement deal.

“They will come this month, but the exact date and time have yet to be confirmed,” he added.

Initially, Thailand tried to make a pact with China to buy three Yuan-class S26T submarines worth 36 billion baht. However, it was only able to secure a deal for one submarine in 2017 and so far, 12.5 billion has been paid.

Once the payment was made for the first submarine, the Chinese shipbuilder found it could not buy a German engine for the submarine, so the Royal Thai Navy decided to opt for a frigate instead, which would cost 4.5 billion more.

Sutin said he would try to negotiate a deal that is beneficial for the country in the form of a barter trade.

When asked if he would offer China the 15,000 tonnes of 10-year-old rice in the rice-pledging scheme in a barter deal, he said: “If they want it, we can provide it.”