Trade talks planned for Laos
Thai trade delegations are scheduled to attend a joint meeting with their Lao counterparts in Vientiane this week, aiming to raise bilateral trade to US$11 billion (360 billion baht) in 2021.
Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the joint meeting is part of strategic partnership efforts the government is focusing on to boost trade and investment.
Key agenda items include transport connectivity between the two countries to facilitate trade, trade and investment promotion activities, cooperation on agricultural products, human resource development and banking cooperation, he said.
At the joint meeting on Sept 4-6, a business matching event will also be held, with more than 45 Thai businesses in segments such as franchises, construction materials, and food and beverages scheduled to attend.
Laos is Thailand's seventh-largest trade partner in Asean. Over the past five years, two-way trade averaged $5.66 billion a year, with average growth of 4.78% a year.
In 2017, two-way trade between Thailand and Laos amounted to $6.17 billion, up 5.1% from a year before.
Key exports included finished oil, automobiles and parts, steel and steel products, livestock, chemicals, cosmetics, soap and acne treatment, machinery and parts, fresh and frozen poultry, and plastic products.
In a separate development, the Commerce Ministry's Foreign Trade Department reported on Friday Thailand's total border trade, including transit trade, rose 7.14% in the first seven months this year to 800 billion baht.
Transit trade comprises businesses connected with the passage of goods through a country to their destination.
Of the total value, exports made up 456 billion baht for the period, up marginally by 0.72% from the first seven months last year, with imports worth 344 billion, an increase of 17%.
Thailand enjoyed a trade surplus of 112 billion baht for border trade during the first seven months.
For the period, Malaysia remained Thailand's biggest border trade partner, contributing 330 billion baht or 51% of the total, followed by Laos at 124 billion (19%), Myanmar at 112 billion (17%) and Cambodia 80.8 billion (12%).
Combined border trade with the four countries totalled 647 billion baht, up 4.69% for the period.
The department reported transit trade with Singapore, Vietnam and southern China, whose borders are adjacent to those four bordering countries, also rose, with values totalling 153 billion baht, up 18.9% in the first seven months this year.