Thailand may avenge fruit ban
Thailand is mulling retaliatory measures against Indonesia after the latter banned imports of Thai longan and durian during harvest seasons.
Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said responsible authorities are studying the impact and proper retaliatory measures against Indonesia, which introduced the ban on imports of horticultural crops, especially fruit, during its annual harvest season on Jan 1.
"Such import measures are considered unfair because their harvest seasons, particularly for longan and durian, are identical to ours," Mr Sontirat said. "We are fighting for fair trade practices to make our products competitive."
The Trade Negotiations Department is preparing measures against Indonesia, he said, and the government pledges to launch stricter inspections of Indonesian goods if Thai producers are shut out of the Indonesian market.
Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said the department is consulting related agencies on proper measures to tackle the trade issue, but he insisted that the measures scheduled to be disclosed this month would do nothing to contravene established international trade agreements.
"Over the past several months, Thailand has raised the issue in discussions with Indonesia at the ministerial level," Mrs Auramon said. "We, the Commerce Ministry, have also asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to help facilitate the talks, but there is no progress."
In 2017, Thailand exported 97,000 tonnes of longan to Indonesia worth US$83.7 million (2.69 billion baht), with shipments of durian amounting to 760 tonnes worth $1.2 million.
Last year, Indonesia was Thailand's fourth-largest trading partner in Asean, following Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore.
Over the last five years, two-way trade between Thailand and Indonesia averaged $16.2 billion a year.
In 2017, overall two-way trade between the two countries totalled $16.2 billion, up 11.5% from 2016.
Thailand's exports represented $8.8 billion, enjoying a trade surplus of $1.4 billion against Indonesia.
For the first four months of 2018, two-way trade rose 14.7% from the same period last year to $6 billion.
Thai exports fetched $3.3 billion for the period, up 16.2% year-on-year.