Commerce Ministry acts as Myanmar go-between

Commerce Ministry acts as Myanmar go-between

Thai firms reeling in neighbouring state

Protesters take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon's Kyimyintdine township on April 1. (AFP photo)
Protesters take part in a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon's Kyimyintdine township on April 1. (AFP photo)

The Commerce Ministry plans to ask state-owned banks to consider granting low-interest loans to help small Thai entrepreneurs in Myanmar that have been forced to temporarily close for almost a month as a confrontation between the military regime and protesters escalates.

Thai manufacturers that use Myanmar as their export base are also desperate after the US said earlier it would consider suspending the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme for Myanmar, making Naypyitaw lose tariff-free access to the US market for certain goods.

Thai businesses in Myanmar lack the funds to support factories and shops and will likely temporarily shutter, said Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.

Mr Jurin said commerce permanent secretary Boonyarit Kalayanamit will act as a go-between for the Thai-Myanmar Business Council (TMBC) and banks, including the Export-Import Bank of Thailand and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand to jointly find a solution.

"We want the two sides to talk. This will help businesses, especially smaller enterprises, gain access to loan sources more easily," he said.

Many Thai entrepreneurs have a severe liquidity problem because they had to close their food, spa and massage shops during the political conflict, said TMBC chairman Kich Aungvitulsatit.

"These businesses are the hardest hit. They cannot earn revenue and have no idea how long their shops will remain closed," he said. "As soon as the Commerce Ministry contacts us, we'll set an appointment for business people and bankers to talk."

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