Thailand, New Zealand in bubble talks
The Industry Ministry has discussed working with New Zealand on what it calls an "industry bubble" with the aim to share knowledge, technology and innovations for the agriculture sector in support of farmers from both nations.
Like a travel bubble, which links countries with low risk of coronavirus infection, the industry bubble is also based on the selection of certain countries for a close business cooperation.
According to the Industry Ministry, partner countries are required to ensure that they can carry out economic activities together without concern of a viral outbreak in their lands.
The focus will be on farmers, not tourists, as the government wants to help them create a value chain from upstream to downstream production, Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit said yesterday.
"The Industry Ministry agrees to partner with New Zealand because it [New Zealand] is expert in processing agricultural products for export," he said.
Mr Suriya came up with the industry bubble idea after a talk with New Zealand's ambassador to Thailand, Taha Macpherson, on joint cooperation in agriculture.
New Zealand and Thailand have had a diplomatic relationship for 64 years, and Thailand ranks eighth in trade value with New Zealand.
Thailand mostly exports herbs and food ingredients to New Zealand.
Mr Suriya said New Zealand wants to create new business cooperation with Thailand in a bid to jointly cope with the impact of the coronavirus, currently dealing a heavy blow to the global economy.
The two countries agreed to help their respective agricultural sectors mitigate, or prevent, risks caused by the pandemic.
The Thai government is pushing ahead with a Smart Farm scheme, which is aimed at maximising farmers' capability by adopting technology to improve production capacity, management and marketing in order to upgrade them to become leaders in their local communities.
The Industry Ministry has also launched the Ban Bung model in Chon Buri, a project intended to help farmers develop and differentiate their products. The scheme plans to set the example for 80 communities countrywide.
The ministry is also planning to spend 1.9 billion baht, part of its 10-billion-baht pandemic relief proposal, to help farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises boost their economic activity in the post-pandemic period.