Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has ordered the International Trade Promotion Department to speed up the organisation of online business matching with Chinese and Hong Kong importers to boost Thai exports to China after China hit Taiwan with trade curbs amid tensions over the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island.
Trade counsellors in China have also been ordered to speed up surveying categories of products that Thailand could export to satisfy demand in China and substitute the products that Taiwan cannot export to China, especially food and beverage products including instant noodles, frozen fresh fish, snacks and fruits.
China rolled out curbs on Wednesday on the import of more than 2,000 Taiwanese food imports into China, from fresh produce to processed food, while halting shipments of sand to the island in the wake of the visit by Ms Pelosi.
The trip by Ms Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency and the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, has ignited a diplomatic firestorm.
"I've ordered the International Trade Promotion Department to expedite online business matching [OBM] during Aug 24-25 to negotiate with Chinese importers. Currently, there are 150 Thai exporters who have agreed to participate and 200 importers from China and Hong Kong who will join the negotiations. The ministry expects it will help boost the country's exports in the remaining months of the year," Mr Jurin said.
Mr Jurin reaffirmed that the country's exports are likely to exceed the ministry's goal (4-5% growth) thanks to proactive work in promoting both primary and new markets.
Supporting factors include higher global food and agricultural demand, an expansion of the world manufacturing sector, the stable Covid-19 situation, and increasing volumes of shipping vessels and containers. The depreciation of the baht also helps Thai exports compete in the global market.
According to Mr Jurin, the Commerce Ministry is beefing up export promotion plans with the signing of mini-free trade agreements and the projection of soft power around the world among its objectives.
Export promotion will be particularly focused on secondary export markets in 38 cities in 25 countries.
According to a Commerce Ministry report, Thai exports to secondary markets saw strong year-on-year growth of 13.2% in June, led by shipments to South Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, which grew by 49.5%, 4.9%, 24%, 12.1% and 17.2%, respectively.
Thailand's exports to secondary markets are outstripping its export performance in primary markets, which saw year-on-year growth of 11.9% in June.
Primary markets include the US, EU, China, Japan, and much of Asean.
The ministry is scheduled to have an online meeting with commercial ambassadors around the world on Aug 15 to adjust the export working target this year to be in line with the changing global situation, such as the protracted Russia-Ukraine war, zero-Covid-19 measures in China and rising oil prices.
For the first half of 2022, Thai exports grew by 12.7% to US$149 billion while imports rose by 21% to $155 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $6.25 billion.