Bilateral trade growth due to continue, minister says

Updated: 2015-12-01 08:19

By Wang Xu(China Daily)

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 Bilateral trade growth due to continue, minister says

Wu Haisheng, a Chinese executive at Chinese telecom equipment maker Futong Group, offers instructions to a worker at the group's plant in Thailand's Rayong Industrial Zone. The zone is an industrial park established by Thailand and China in 2006. Li Cangmang / Xinhua

The past few years have seen substantial expansion of trade volume between China and Thailand, with the trend expected to continue despite sluggish growth in the global economy, Witit Theeramungcalanon, minister of commercial affairs in the Royal Thai embassy in Beijing, said this week.

"The trade volume for 2015 may not be significantly higher than that of 2014. However, the total trade volume in 2020 can be expected to reach at least $80 billion," Theeramungcalanon said.

Located at the hub of Southeast Asia, Thailand is the second-largest economy among ASEAN members, with a GDP of $373.8 billion in 2014 and a population of 67.7 million.

Sino-Thai trade increased from $45.71 billion in 2010 to $63.58 billion in 2014, of which imports to and exports from the Thai side amounted to $38,498 million and $25,084 million. China is now the largest trade partner of Thailand.

Theeramungcalanon said Thailand's major exports to China are polymers of ethylene, propylene in primary forms, rubber, chemical products, tapioca products and automatic data processing machines and parts. Electrical machinery and parts; electrical household appliances; machinery and parts; computers, parts and accessories and chemicals are the major products Thailand imports from China.

The agricultural sector is a key field that can provide impetus for even closer bilateral economic relations, Theeramungcalanon said, elaborating that the world's 12th-largest agriculture exporter mainly ships rice, fruits and tapioca to China.

Bilateral trade growth due to continue, minister says

"In early December, a new sales contract for 1 million metric tons of new crop rice is expected to be signed between both sides to complement the cooperation on railway construction in Thailand," he said.

"As rice to be exported to China is subject to standards set by China, if both sides can explore closer cooperation on the sanitary and phytosanitary matters and ensure that relevant standards are set and continue to be enforced in a trade-facilitating way, the cooperation on the trade of rice will continue to expand and prosper."

Thailand's strengthened economic ties with China would benefit China's economic cooperation with ASEAN as a whole, Theeramungcalanon said.

According to 2014 statistics from Chinese customs, China-Thailand trade contributed approximately one-sixth of the total trade between China and ASEAN countries.

To strengthen that economic tie, Apipong Khunakornbodintr, minister counselor of the investment promotion section at the Thai embassy in Beijing, said Chinese investment to boost connectivity and communication under the Belt and Road Initiative is extremely welcome.

"Thailand's corporate income tax is the second-lowest in Southeast Asian countries, and we offer favorable policies to attract investment in border provinces in Southern Thailand and five special economic zones - Tak, Mukdahan, Sa Kaew, Songklah and Trat," Khunakornbodintr said.

"Target industries can enjoy tax exemptions for eight years and can only pay half of the tax in the next five years in the special economic zones," Khunakornbodintr said. "Import deputy can be exempted on machinery for research, development and training.

"A number of Chinese companies like tire maker LLIT Co, communication fiber manufacturer Futong Group and saw blade maker Bosun Tools have been approved by the Thailand Board of Investment and have already benefited from these policies," he said.

In the future, Thailand would "continue to contribute to the upgraded free trade agreement made by China and ASEAN countries to work toward a win-win cooperation scenario for all concerned parties and keep encouraging constructive participation on the part of the business community and SMEs," Khunakornbodintr said.

(China Daily 12/01/2015 page7)