Link to Pearl River Delta sought
Pact enhances regional cooperation with southern swath of China
Thailand is looking to deepen strategic cooperation with the Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD) region of China to boost trade and investment not only between the two countries but also with Asean.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who held a meeting yesterday with Zhang Gaoli, vice-premier of the State Council of China, said Thailand proposed that China establish a mechanism to create more regional cooperation between the PPRD region and Asean.
China could use Thailand as a gateway to access Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, he said.
The PPRD region covers nine provinces -- Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan -- and two special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau.
More details will be finalised at a future meeting of the high-level Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation between Thailand and China, though no schedule has been settled.
Mr Somkid said the meeting also raised the possibility of connectivity between Thailand and the PPRD region in linking up Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor with China's One Belt, One Road initiative.
One Belt, One Road refers to China's proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road. Connectivity would cover five major areas of interest: policy coordination, infrastructure construction (including railways and highways), unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people ties. Among these, infrastructure construction is the dominant feature of the New Silk Road.
In a related development, Mr Somkid said the countries agreed to start negotiating in 2018 the next phase of a high-speed train project linking Nakhon Ratchasima and Nong Khai.
The first phase links Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, and is expected to start construction next month. Transport Minister Arkhom Termpitayapaisith said Thailand and China signed two contracts for the first phase in September, with a third contract on signalling systems expected to be signed early next year.
Mr Somkid said Thailand is hopeful of upgrading economic cooperation with China to cover innovation and high technology to increase the value of agricultural products.
Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to Prime Minister's Office Minister Suvit Maesincee, said the meeting yesterday also agreed to build industrial clusters for bio-economy, agriculture, tourism and logistics.