New bridge boosts Thai-Myanmar ties
TAK: Bilateral border trade between Thailand and Myanmar is expected to flourish after the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge becomes fully operational, starting from Oct 30.
Niyom Wairatpanich, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the bridge is vital to boost border trade between the two countries, increasing trade flow and logistics services through Mae Sot.
Thailand's border trade with Myanmar totalled 193 billion baht last year, up 4.9% from a year before. Border trade through Mae Sot amounted to 80 billion baht in 2018.
Thailand's overall border trade with all four neighbours rose 4% last year to 1.12 trillion baht, with exports making up 651 billion baht, down 0.5%, and imports worth 474 billion, up 11%.
Malaysia was the biggest partner for border trade, with two-way border trade amounting to 572 billion baht, up 1.3%, followed by Laos (214 billion baht, up 3.2%) and Cambodia (146 billion baht, up 16.4%).
For the first eight months, Thailand-Myanmar trade accounted for 18.3% of total border trade volume, totalling 55.0 billion baht, a 4.27% decrease.
Exports made up 47.1 billion baht, down 14.6%, with imports worth 7.88 billion, up 6.63%.
The top five export products through the Mae Sot checkpoint were energy drinks, motorcycles, diesel oil, mobile phones with components, and dried betel nut, while the top five import products were corn, live cows and buffaloes, old slabs, and transformers.
Mr Niyom said with the new friendship bridge, the border trade value via Mae Sot is expected to top 100 billion baht in 2020.
Kich Aungvitulsalit, chairman of the Thai-Myanmar Business Council, said exports from Thailand are likely to increase by more than 30% once the new bridge is open.
Mae Sot contributes a major share -- up to 60% -- of total border trade between Thailand and Myanmar, followed by Mae Sai and Ranong-Kaw Thaung checkpoints.
Mr Kich said popular products among Myanmar consumers are consumer goods, construction materials and finished oil.
In a related development, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit held a meeting yesterday with the joint public and private sector consultative committee on Thailand-Myanmar border trade promotion at Mae Sot to boost border trade between the two countries.
Higher border trade could offset lower overall exports, which are suffering from the ongoing trade war and stronger baht, he said.
It is the third meeting on border trade promotion chaired by Mr Jurin after one in Sadao in Songkhla province to boost Thailand-Malaysia border trade and another in Mukdahan to help trade with Laos.
The next meeting is scheduled for Sa Kaeo near the Cambodian border.