Commerce Ministry beefs up China ties
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit vows to deepen economic cooperation with each province of China in a bid to boost trade and investment between that country and Thailand.
Speaking via video conference during the 11th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum on Thursday in Nanning, Mr Jurin said Thai officials plan to push in-depth cooperation with every province of China, including Hainan, where the Chinese government recently unveiled a master plan for construction of Hainan Free Trade Port, which would make the island the biggest special economic zone in China.
At the start of June, the Central Committee and the State Council jointly released the master plan, which laid out a series of special policies for Hainan: scrapping import duties, lowering income tax rates for high-level talent, capping company tax at 15% and relaxing visa requirements for tourists and business travellers.
Collectively, the policies are designed to diversify Hainan's reliance on traditional industries and to function as a strategic trade and investment destination in China.
For foreign firms, Hainan will provide broader market access -- particularly for industries like telecommunications, tourism and education -- in addition to a phased plan for capital account opening and free flow of money between Hainan and overseas markets.
According to Mr Jurin, the Commerce Ministry is in talks with Hainan to forge a bilateral trade partnership covering small and medium-sized enterprise promotion, innovation and creative service promotion, trade facilitation and e-commerce promotion. The talks are expected to materialise next year, he said.
The Commerce Ministry also vows to promote deepened cooperation to promote and make the best use of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor of China. The ILSTC is a trade and multimodal transport corridor jointly built by the western Chinese provinces and Asean countries.
The ILSTC treats Chongqing and the Beibu Gulf ports of mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore as different transport hubs through which it attempts to link the western provinces of China with Asean.
International trade among Asean, Central Asia and the EU can also be improved by the existing China Railway Express service from western Chinese cities.
Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of Trade Negotiations Department, said deepened linkage development will greatly benefit Thai entrepreneurs by offering them a greater opportunity to export more farm products and fruits to China.
"The deepened economic cooperation on the Beibu Gulf will also facilitate Thai shipments," Mrs Auramon said.