Commerce Ministry to hold talks with Myanmar
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit is planning to hold urgent talks with Myanmar as Naypyidaw is preparing to ban Thai drink exports worth 10 billion baht via land transport from May 1.
The decision is believed to be related to the political mayhem in Myanmar.
All types of drinks, including soft drinks, instant coffee and sweetened condensed milk, will only be allowed for export via ship to Myanmar, which means higher export costs for Thai businesses.
The authorities on both sides need to talk "so we can ask them their reasons for this decision and find solutions to the problem", Mr Jurin said.
It remains unclear why Myanmar is demanding a new transport mode. The move comes after an increase in drink exports to Myanmar earlier this year.
It has been reported that many people in Myanmar want to boycott the purchase of goods from companies linked with the military regime which staged a coup on Feb 1 to topple the civilian government under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Between January and February, the value of exports of drinks to Myanmar increased by 10% to 2 billion baht, according to the Commerce Ministry.
Thai drink exports are valued at 10 billion baht a year and the products are usually sent to Myanmar via land through three border checkpoints in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, Tak's Mae Sot district and Ranong.
Mr Jurin said Thai authorities will ask Myanmar's officials to review their decision and clarify why Myanmar has experienced a trade deficit with Thailand, especially in recent months.
He said Thailand has also bought products from Myanmar in a great volume but the import value remained low because of transport problems caused by the ongoing political conflict in the country.
In another development, Thai state-owned Export-Import Bank of Thailand is ready to help Thai entrepreneurs cope with liquidity shortages due to political turbulence by offering loans with special interest rates and debt moratorium to its customers, said Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, chief of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office.