Joint meeting lures 400 Chinese execs
Key agenda items include efforts to double bilateral trade by 2021
As many as 400 business leaders and chief executives from 40-50 leading Chinese companies, including Alibaba Group, are scheduled to meet Thai counterparts next Friday at Government House to tighten bilateral trade and investment.
According to Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Thailand will host the sixth meeting of the Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation between Thailand and China, to be co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yong.
Key agenda items include joint efforts to double two-way trade volume to US$140 billion (4.66 billion baht) by 2021.
The discussion will cover economic cooperation, trade and investment expansion, joint infrastructure development, agriculture, sciences, technology, innovation, tourism, finance, digital, and human resources development.
The meeting will also focus on tightening strategic partnerships between the two countries through the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in Thailand.
According to Mr Sontirat, Chinese business leaders will tour the EEC area to witness the latest developments in the government's much-touted flagship project and discuss opportunities for joint ventures in the corridor.
"The goal to double trade volume between the two countries sounds like a challenging task, but we see it as possible because the Commerce Ministry already has strategies in place to ramp up trade volume with China, both via traditional and secondary markets," Mr Sontirat said.
The Commerce Ministry is focusing on "new" cities such as Chongqing, Chengdu, Guiyang, Hangzhou and Xi'an, he said, citing China's extensive and efficient logistics network that will facilitate distribution of Thai goods.
According to Mr Sontirat, the ministry is also tapping cross-border trade to boost Thai exports. At the meeting, ministry officials are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government to tackle existing trade obstacles between the two countries.
China is currently Thailand's largest trading partner in the world. Two-way trade between the two countries totalled $73.67 billion in 2017, up 11.9% from the previous year.
For the first six months of this year, bilateral trade amounted to $39.39 billion, up nearly 13% year-on-year.
Thailand's key exports to China include rubber, rubber products, plastic pellets, computers and parts, and chemicals, while key imports are electrical machinery and parts, electrical appliances, chemicals and automotive parts.