Despite much scepticism, the government said its plan to barter Thai farm products for Chinese high-speed trains is likely to be finalised before the year's end.
Niwatthamrong: Met officials in Beijing
The planned barter deal with China is expected to become clearer in mid-November, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan, who recently returned from roadshows in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing.
He said the Thai delegation met their Chinese counterparts in Beijing to discuss potential trade deals between the two countries, especially for rice, rubber and tapioca, which are in demand in China.
Mr Niwatthamrong said China is also eager about investing in Thailand's high-speed train development projects and a possible swap of Thai farm produce for Chinese high-speed trains.
"We hope to conclude all details both on the purchase deals and barter trade plans within this year," said Mr Niwatthamrong, adding that China intends to buy 1 million tonnes of rice a year in five years, and 200,000 tonnes of rubber a year through government-to-government contracts.
The commerce minister added that the government's plan to sell 1.2 million tonnes of rice to a state enterprise in Harbin, in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province, is also making good progress, while the Thai government is waiting for documents on the identity of the Chinese enterprise to ensure that it works on the Chinese government's behalf.
The deal is expected to be inked by the middle of November, he said.
In a related development, according to Mr Niwatthamrong, China has proposed to host the joint committee's meeting at deputy prime ministerial level by the middle of November to deepen economic cooperation.
He said the two parties believe it is imperative to map out mutual action plans on 14 potential business sectors under the five-year Thailand-China Strategic Cooperation Plan signed in 2012.
The plan aims to boost bilateral trade to US$100 billion by 2015.
Two-way trade was valued at almost $70 billion last year.