Thailand, China to revive moribund trade, investment forum
Thailand and China on Thursday agreed to revive a forum aimed at boosting mutual trade and investment as Beijing continues to court the kingdom.
Chinese ambassador to Thailand Ning Fukui, left, meets with Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula at Government House to bolster trade and investment ties. (Government House photo)
Chinese ambassador to Thailand Ning Fukui and Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula reached the agreement to restart the Thai-Chinese Committee for Economic Cooperation. The forum was launched by the Thaksin Shinawatra government in 2003, but laid moribund for more than a decade.
The first meeting with the Thai government will be hosted in Beijing, with Bangkok organising the following session, M.R. Pridiyathorn said.
The Beijing talks will focus on Thai exports to China - principally agriculture products such as rice and rubber - and future Chinese investment in Thailand, he said. Thursday's meeting did not broach hot topics like high-speed rail and or details of schemes to sell rice and rubber to China.
M.R. Pridiyathorn noted that Thailand has not committed to all the projects China is proposing.
"Thailand will consider investment projects from China that we need," he said. "We need to screen those that are appropriate for the country's future development."
Thai exports to China increased 12% this year from 2% 15 years ago, while Thailand is among top investment destinations for the Chinese.
The new agreement comes as China pushes to deepen ties with Thailand's military-appointed government. Chinese investors were among the to meet with Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha after he seized power from the Pheu Thai Party-led government on May 22.
Under pressure from western countries to quickly restore democracy and general elections, the junta has welcomed the Chinese, who have avoided coup-related issues, calling it an Thai internal matter.
M.R. Pridiyathorn praised China's stance on Thailand, saying on Thursday that Beijing never showed bias against the coup in Thailand.
China was Thailand's top export destinations this year with trade worth 465 billion baht from January to July 7, according to the Commerce Ministry. Thai exports to China accounted for 11% of total exports.
China also ranked first on the two-way trade between Thailand and other countries, accounting for 1,158 billion baht, or 13%, in the same period, the ministry says.