By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said yesterday that she would lead an official team from involved agencies to the Sadao border checkpoint in Songkhla province early next month in a bid to resolve trade obstructions and find measures to drive border trade between Thailand and Malaysia.
Under the plan to promote border trade with Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, the ministry has found that it needs to integrate its work with that of other agencies, as some trade barriers involved them.
For instance, the boundary with Malaysia sees the largest proportion of border trade between Thailand and neighbouring countries, so the ministry will seek cooperation with relevant agencies such as the Customs Department, the Tourism Ministry and the Transport Ministry, as well as with the Malaysian government, to lower trade barriers.
The government will consider extending the operating time of the Sadao checkpoint, set up a VAT (value-added tax) refund point there to serve Malaysian travellers, and establish a single system for inspecting goods traversing between the two countries.
Apiradi said her ministry was targeting a 50-per-cent increase in the value of border trade to Bt1.5 trillion this year as a result of the government’s special-economic-zone policies and border-trade promotion plans.
In the first eight months of this year, the value of border trade reached Bt900 billion. Thai-Malaysian trade took the largest share at 51 per cent.
Overall two-way trade between Thailand and Malaysia was valued at Bt507.65 billion last year, of which Bt274.99 billion was Thai exports. In the first eight months of this year, two-way trade between them was valued at Bt316.18 billion.
Meanwhile, the ministry will propose an SME promotion plan to the Cabinet next week, targeting no fewer than 58,940 small and medium-sized enterprises within three years. Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maesincee said that under the plan, it would ask for a budget of Bt700 million for training programmes for 18,035 SMEs in the first year.
Moreover, the ministry is set to increase the number of Thai franchise businesses in international markets by about 100 a year.