New role for trade officials
Commercial affairs officials in overseas offices have been told to adjust the way they work to function more as honorary salesmen in cooperation with the private sector to help tackle export obstacles to drive shipment growth this year.
Speaking at a dinner talk on the "Thai Economic Strategy Under the New Government" organised by the Economic Reporters Association, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said such officials should veer from their traditional roles as trade negotiators or compilers of information.
"Overseas officials should be well-equipped with knowledge about products we are exporting or plan to beef up so they can convince potential buyers," Mr Jurin said. "International trade negotiations with potential partners still need to be continued."
He said Thai trade faces a slew of impacts from the trade war, a stronger baht and a number of new competitors in the world market.
"Thailand needs to focus more on potential markets," Mr Jurin said. "More collaborative work between the Commerce Ministry and other state units is necessary to boost Thai shipments."
He is scheduled to call a joint meeting today of overseas commercial affairs officials, directors of Thai Trade Centers from 58 offices worldwide and agricultural affairs officials to discuss how to stimulate exports for the remainder of the year amid the escalating Sino-US trade row.
This will be the first time that commercial and agricultural affairs officials will join the meeting and work together with the private sector after the Commerce Ministry set up a war room to tackle export obstacles and boost exports in each potential product and market.
"The unexpected rise of exports for the first time in five months in July offers a positive sign, but to maintain momentum all state agencies must work together and with the private sector," Mr Jurin said.
The Commerce Ministry reported on Aug 21 that customs-cleared outbound shipments rose 4.3% year-on-year in July to US$21.2 billion after contracting by 2.2% year-on-year in June, 5.8% in May, 2.6% in April and 4.9% in March.