Srettha, Anwar boost trade, tourism, security ties during border talks
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his Malaysian counterpart Anwar Ibrahim pledged to tighten cooperation between the two neighbours on issues ranging from food and trade to tourism during bilateral talks on Monday.
Anwar sat down with Srettha at the new Sadao border checkpoint building in Songkhla at 11am in a reciprocal visit following Srettha’s trip to Malaysia on October 11.
Srettha was accompanied by Tourism and Sports Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol and Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit while Anwar was accompanied by his Public Works Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi and his Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing.
The meeting followed up on the October 11 talks, especially on joint border developments to improve the lives of people on either side of the southern border.
Srettha’s visit to Malaysia saw the two sides agree to set up four task forces – on trade and border trade, tourism, agriculture, and security.
On Monday, the two leaders expressed determination to push for more border and bilateral trade and investment in line with their joint action plan.
Srettha proposed that Malaysia host a meeting of the Thai-Malaysian joint trade commission led by commerce ministers to overcome trade hurdles between the two neighbouring countries.
Srettha also asked Anwar to speed up the drafting of a memorandum of understanding on cross-border transport of goods.
The Malaysian leader vowed to speed up the opening of border trade checkpoints and promised to have his chamber of commerce follow up on the issue.
Srettha also proposed cooperation between local chambers of commerce of the two countries to boost trade value, tourism and border developments.
On tourism cooperation, the Thai PM noted that Thailand had made entry easier for Malaysian tourists at the Sadao checkpoint by waiving the need to fill in entry forms from November 1 to April 31 next year. The waiver was granted after Malaysian tourists topped foreign arrivals this year.
Srettha told Anwar he that hoped Malaysia would speed up an MoU on cross-border transport for Thai tourists.
He said Thais currently had no access to public transport on the Malaysian side.
Anwar promised to make it more convenient for Thai tourists to visit Malaysia,
On agricultural cooperation, Anwar vowed more cooperation to develop halal foods after Srettha told him that the Thai government is setting up a Halal Food Department under the Agriculture Ministry.
On border security, Srettha said the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry would work closely with its Malaysian counterpart to halt the smuggling of wildlife and meat through the border. The two sides pledged an MoU to combat smuggling, due to be signed in February next year.
The PMs also addressed border transport links to promote trade and tourism.
They agreed to build a second bridge to link Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok district to Malaysia, while Anwar also pledged to build a road to connect the new Sadao border checkpoint to Malaysia’s Bukit checkpoint.
After the meeting, they visited the site of the road’s construction, before Srettha hosted a lunch for the Malaysian delegation at the Vista Hotel.