Bid to strengthen Thai-Malaysian trade

The first meeting of a joint business council on Friday vowed to strengthen partnerships between Thailand and Malaysia with the aim of doubling bilateral trade to US$25 billion by 2015.

Megat Mizan Nicholas Denney, co-chairman of the Malaysia-Thailand Business Council, said the first priority is improving the value of trade and investment between the countries.

He was speaking after a meeting with the Thailand-Malaysia Business Council (TMBC) in Bangkok.

Two-way trade is valued at $12.5 billion, with Malaysia ranked as Thailand's fifth-largest trade partner in Asean.

With Malaysia aiming to become the world's largest producer of halal food, that sector has been identified as among the key areas of cooperation. Thailand exports halal products through Malaysia and Singapore with a volume of about 30,000 tonnes a year.

"For the food industry, Thailand has more efficiency in skills and materials with producers such as Charoen Pokphand Foods," said Mr Denney.

He said boosting bilateral trade will also drive Thai investments in Malaysia. Last year, foreign direct investment in Malaysia fell 13.3% year-on-year to $343 million.

TMBC chairman Surong Bulakul said Thailand has asked the Malaysian government to ease regulations that mean buses and trucks must be parked at the border so that goods can be transported by Malaysian vehicles. "The rules should support the Asean Free Trade Agreement," said Mr Surong, who is also the chief financial officer at PTT Plc.

The two sides agreed to push forward cross-border trade and logistics under the Asean Logistics Connectivity framework by removing barriers to goods transportation, he said.

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Writer: Piyachart Maikaew
Position: Business Reporter