Guangdong, Thailand sign key agreements

Guangdong, Thailand sign key agreements

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha accompanies Guangdong governor Li Xi to a meeting room  at Government House on Monday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha accompanies Guangdong governor Li Xi to a meeting room at Government House on Monday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Thailand and China’s Guangdong province have agreed to cooperate at all levels, including investment, trade, tourism, education and science and technology development.

The agreement was reached on Monday while Li Xi, the governor of Guangdong, led 208 executives from 146 local companies to meet Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the agreement will help enhance the economic development of both sides.

Guangdong, which lies on the South China Sea coast, has led China in provincial GDP for almost 30 years. Last year it recorded year-on-year economic growth of 6.8% to 9.73 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion).

The province is also an important export market for Thailand, accounting for 30% of Thai shipments to the mainland.

Guangdong has as well many unicorn companies such as Huawei and Tencent, which are the leaders in innovation and high technology.

“Since China’s central government has given the green light for the province to seek investment opportunity overseas, many large companies from Guangdong have visited Thailand,” said Mr Somkid.

Two-way trade between Thailand and Guangdong totalled US$24 billion. Thai investment in Guangdong amounted to $650 million while Guangdong’s investment in Thailand was worth $573 million.

Guangdong province is a strategic component of China’s national development blueprint, the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. Thailand, which is the centre of Asean, can benefit from this geopolitical arrangement, said Mr Somkid.

The GBA aims to promote in-depth cooperation among nine cities in Guangdong — Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing — and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, with the aim of developing a world-class city cluster via reforms, innovation and liberalisation.

Mr Somkid said Thailand and Guangdong also agreed to cooperate on tourism which will help boost the tourism sectors of the two parties.

In 2018, visitors from Guangdong totalled 1.8 million, and there were 50-60 flights per day between Thailand and Guangdong.

Mr Somkid said Guangdong investors had not questioned Thai politics, saying China will always be Thailand’s ally no matter what happens.

With Gen Prayut as the prime minister, he believed it will help build up confidence among foreign investors that there will be continuity of key policies.

In a related development, government spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak said Gen Prayut told Mr Li the government fully supports China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the GBA scheme, which conform with the Thailand 4.0 strategy and the government’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor initiative.

Gen Prayut said the government pledges to expand two-way trade between Thailand and China to $140 billion by 2021.

China has been Thailand’s largest partner for six straight years, and Thailand is China’s third largest trading partner in Asean.

In 2018, bilateral trade between China and Thailand reached $80.1 billion, up 8.7% from 2017.

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