Vietnam urged to join rubber consortium
Thailand is set to lobby Vietnam at a meeting in Bangkok next week to join the International Rubber Consortium Ltd (IRCo), a move that would help to stabilise rubber prices.
The country is also seeking to expand bilateral trade to US$20 billion over the next five years.
Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said yesterday that the government would try its best at the second meeting of the Joint Trade Committee from Monday to Wednesday to look for ways to facilitate and promote trade and investment between the two nations.
The two governments will also discuss more cooperation on products such as rice and rubber to stabilise prices, information exchange and logistics services.
Gen Chatchai said Thai authorities would lobby Vietnamese counterparts to become a new member of IRCo.
IRCo was officially registered in 2004 by Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia with authorised capital of $225 million.
The three countries produced 8.14 million tonnes of rubber, or 67.5% of 12.07 million tonnes globally, last year.
Thailand produced 4.32 million tonnes, with Indonesia making 3.15 million tonnes and Malaysia 669,000 tonnes.
Vietnam was ranked the third-largest natural rubber producer with 953,700 tonnes.
Progressive demand for natural rubber in the world has encouraged Vietnam to expand its rubber plantations to increase exports and help national development.
Since 1990, its rubber smallholding sector has been developed rapidly throughout the country, increasing its share of the total rubber area.
The Vietnamese government has issued a master plan to reach 800,000 ha of rubber plantations and produce 1.1 to 1.2 million tonnes of natural rubber.
Gen Chatchai said the government would also call for Vietnam to help facilitate the branch expansion of Thai commercial banks in the neighbouring country.
Only Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and Bank of Ayudhya are currently operating in Vietnam. Krungthai Bank is also interested in opening a branch in Vietnam.
According to the Commerce Ministry, bilateral trade between Thailand and Vietnam amounted to $11.82 billion in 2014, with exports from Thailand making up $7.88 billion.
Vietnam is the fourth-largest trade partner of Thailand in Asean and the 11th-largest in global terms.
Key exports include finished oil, plastic pellets, cars and car parts, rubber products, fresh and processed fruits.
Thailand's investments in Vietnam are mainly in tourism and related industries, restaurants, processed agricultural products, plastics and automotive parts.