Help sought in reopening checkpoints

Help sought in reopening checkpoints

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit (right) on Monday met with Chinese ambassador to Thailand Han Zhiqiang, left, to discuss trade.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit (right) on Monday met with Chinese ambassador to Thailand Han Zhiqiang, left, to discuss trade.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has called on China to help accelerate the reopening of its cross-border checkpoints to stimulate cross-border trade and imports of chicken and edible bird's nests from Thailand.

Speaking after meeting with Chinese ambassador to Thailand Han Zhiqiang, Mr Jurin said he has asked Mr Zhiqiang to help act as an intermediary to convince the Chinese government to reopen the Mohan and Guan Lei checkpoints in Yunnan province.

The two cross-border checkpoints remain closed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

According to Mr Jurin, Thailand has also asked China to add more chicken imports such as whole chicken with heads, chicken wings, chicken joints and ducks.

China is also being urged to consider more imports of edible bird's nests from Thailand.

Currently, China imports edible bird's nests just from two Thai companies. There are nine companies that have applied for permission from the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry and asked China to allow them to be able to export more bird's nests.

Mr Jurin said Thailand has also asked China to speed up rice purchases, especially through a government-to-government (G2G) deal.

Thailand and China through China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (Cofco), a state enterprise that supervises annual rice import quotas, and Thai foreign trade officials signed a memorandum of understanding in early 2015 to buy 2 million tonnes of rice, an offshoot of an investment package between the two countries that includes a high-speed rail project.

Of the total purchase, 1 million tonnes were to be newly harvested grains and the balance older ones.

However, in late 2015 Cofco agreed to sign a purchase deal to buy only 1 million tonnes of newly harvested grains, 720,000 tonnes of which have been delivered.

Mr Jurin said Thailand is calling on China to help speed up signing a purchase deal for the remaining 280,000 tonnes under the 1-million-tonne purchase contract.

Rice shipments to China under the G2G deal were halted for a couple of years, as China delayed its purchases, citing relatively high prices for Thai rice.

For the first nine months of 2021, bilateral trade between Thailand and China totalled 2.49 trillion baht, an increase of 32% over the same period of last year. Thai exports amounted to 878.28 billion baht, up 27% from 2020.

Last year, bilateral trade between Thailand and China (excluding Hong Kong) totalled 2.49 trillion baht, up by 0.56% from the previous year, with exports from Thailand representing 926.64 billion baht, up 2.71% from a year before.

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