Thailand, China sign four MoUs

BANGKOK - Thailand and China on Wednesday signed four memorandums of agreement on bilateral cooperation, extradition of criminals, education and the rice trade.

  • Published: 21/11/2012 at 05:45 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao speaks with His Majesty the King during an audience granted Wednesday. Mr Wen was accompanied by Chinese aides and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. (Photo courtesy Royal Household Bureau)

The first MoU, signed by Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, aims to boost cooperation between Thailand and China.

The ministers also inked a second memorandum on the extradition of criminals wanted in the two countries.

The third memorandum on the promotion of Thai-Chinese education was signed by Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana and the Chinese foreign minister.

The fourth document, signed by Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and his Chinese counterpart Chen Deming, focuses on the rice trade.

Government spokesman Tossaporn Serirak said that the memorandum on rice trading does not specify the timeframe or the quantity of Thia rice China wants to import, since it is regarded as a sensitive product by the  of World Trade Organisation.

However, 10 private firms from China on Nov 20 signed eight MoUs to buy 2.6 million tonnes of Jasmine rice, white rice and glutinous rice worth a total 6.24 billion baht, Mr Tossaporn said.

In the first 10 months of this year, China imported only 91,460 tonnes of Thai rice, down 57.8% year-on-year.

Photo by Chanat Katanyu

The spokesman said China also agreed to consider extending the stay of female giant panda Lin Ping in Thailand. Lin Ping, the first panda born in Thailand, in 2009, is due to return to China next year.

After the signing of the four MoUs, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held a press conference.

Ms Yingluck said the Chinese government is interested in buying Thai agricultural produce, especially rice, and expanding investment in Thailand.

She said China plans to expand its investment in Thailand by 15% per year and is keen on opening a new airline route between the two countries.

The government would like to invite China to invest in Thailand's highspeed train network project, water management and the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar, she said.

Thailand is interested in investing in rubber and the automotive industry in China, she said.

Premier Wen said China and Thailand will become economic partners in many important projects, such as mass transportation, irrigation, agriculture and economic cooperation along the Mekong River.

China will continue to promote Chinese language learning in Thailand, he added.

Opposition Democrat MP Ong-art Klampaiboon criticised the government over the MoU rice deals, saying the government was trying to sell to the public the idea that it can export a large amount of rice even though the memorandum does not include a timeframe or state how much.

"The government should not mess about with foreign trade because it will hurt rice exports and investors' confidence," Mr Ong-art said.

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