Indonesia a bright spot for Thai exports

Indonesia a bright spot for Thai exports

Visitors check out garlic and onions at a fair in Bangkok. Pawat Laupaisarntaksin
Visitors check out garlic and onions at a fair in Bangkok. Pawat Laupaisarntaksin

Prospects for exports to Indonesia remain promising this year after the fellow Asean member temporarily lifted the import licence requirement for garlic and brown onions until May and moved to lower import tariffs on 749 products such as soybeans, food, textiles, corn, shoes and ceramics.

Indonesia lifted the import licence requirement for garlic and brown onions on March 19 to counter a domestic shortage. The period runs until May 31 this year, said Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department.

Mrs Auramon said Indonesia is also abolishing the import quota and tariff on sugar from Thailand, Australia and India, while the department has been asking the Indonesian government to consider implementing the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on food safety for fruit between the two countries.

The MRA will help reduce the inspection time and processing for longan and durian, particularly during the fruit harvesting season, she said.

Two-way trade between Indonesia and Thailand amounted to US$16.33 billion last year, with exports from Thailand accounting for $9.09 billion and imports worth $7.23 billion.

Deputy Commerce Minister Weerasak Wamgsuphakijkosol said he ordered the Trade Negotiations Department to closely observe global trade measures during the coronavirus pandemic to seek markets for Thai agricultural products, a move that aims to increase the income of Thai farmers and related entrepreneurs.

Many countries have applied export quotas on food, face masks and medical supplies to prevent domestic shortages, while forgoing import tariffs on products that face shortages.

For example, Mr Weerasak said the US is lifting the import tariff on medical supplies for virus prevention from China and the import ban on rubber gloves from Malaysia.

Brunei, Laos, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, the EU, Hong Kong and Russia have eliminated the import tariff on personal protective equipment, face masks and medical supplies for coronavirus treatment.

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