Commerce minister sticking with Middle East trade missions
Despite the US-Iran conflict, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit vows to proceed with his trade missions to 18 countries, including those in the Middle East, to boost export growth.
The International Trade Promotion Department's plans to participate in trade fairs in the Middle East, such as Gulfood in Dubai in February, Automechanika Dubai 2020 in June and Beauty World Middle East in Dubai in June, remain unchanged, Mr Jurin said.
In addition, the department's plan to promote Thai small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to strengthen their export markets through roadshows in the Middle East will stick to schedule.
The department plans to take part in Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference 2020, Food Africa Cairo 2020 in Egypt, Jewellery Arabia 2020 in Bahrain, JWS Abu Dhabi Show 2020 and Middle East Organic & Natural Product Expo Dubai 2020.
Mr Jurin said Thai Trade Center offices in the Middle East reported that traders from Iran and the Mideast will join the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair in February as planned.
"Shipments to the Middle East are possible through several routes, and we still believe the conflict will not affect Thai exports," he said.
The Commerce Ministry reported that Thailand fetched US$7.64 billion from exports to the Middle East in the first 11 months of 2019, down 2.9% year-on-year.
For the same period, Thailand exported $137 million worth of goods to Iran, down 43.4% year-on-year.
Key export products included rubber, canned fruit, wood and wooden products, rubber products, frozen vegetables, storage batteries, rice, fishing nets, beverages, and motorcycles.
In December, the commerce minister declared that he would act as the country's salesman, planning to team up with the private sector on trade missions to 16 countries and forge regional trade and cooperation agreements with local governments in China and India to boost export growth in 2020.
Trade destination targets for this year include India, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, France, Britain, the Middle East, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Cambodia and East Timor.
Mr Jurin has ordered commercial affairs officials and directors of Thai Trade Centers in 58 offices worldwide to seek opportunities to start new regional trade and cooperation agreements with certain states in India and provinces in China.
Trade negotiations with the local authorities of each territory will be forwarded this year to boost Thai exports, he said.
Mr Jurin said Thailand also wants to conclude trade negotiations with Turkey this year and speed up talks with Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
"We remain optimistic that exports will return to growth this year," he said.