Thailand and Japan pledge to boost ties

Thailand and Japan pledge to boost ties

Don makes plans for visit of counterpart

Manila: Thailand and Japan have pledged to expand economic ties and arrange high-level visits including one by the Japanese foreign minister, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said yesterday.

Speaking after meeting his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida, Mr Don said the discussion was constructive as the two countries have enjoyed close ties for 128 years. These were his first official talks with Mr Kishida since taking office.

He said the previous meetings between Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe also demonstrated the firm relations between Thailand and Japan.

"Our premier has met Prime Minister Abe five times and they will hold another round of bilateral meetings again during the upcoming East Asia Summit in Malaysia. Their relationship is close," Mr Don said.

He added that Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who oversees economic affairs, will also meet Mr Abe during his visit to Japan from Nov 25-28.

Economic cooperation between the two countries is ongoing, evident in the Japanese strategic perspective towards Thailand, as reflected in the major projects that Japan wants to invest in, the foreign minister said.

"The rail system, joining hands over the Dawei project, cooperation in agro products, innovation and education are among the issues that both sides will advance,'' he said, adding the two governments have pledged to ensure Thai and Japanese businesses benefit.

Mr Don said the regional roles of Thailand and Japan were also raised during the meeting, especially at the United Nations (UN) when Japan will begin its role as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council next year with its term scheduled to end in 2017, while Thailand is running for the 2017-2018 term.

"We [Thailand and Japan] hope to work together at the UN Security Council," Mr Don said.

Mr Kishida would pay an official visit to Thailand, probably after Mr Somkid returns from Tokyo.

Asked whether Prime Minister Abe will come to Thailand, Mr Don said Mr Kishida's plan to visit also could lead to Mr Abe paying a trip to Thailand.

According to the Commerce Ministry, trade value between Thailand and Japan reached 1.85 trillion baht last year.

Of the figure, Thailand imported 1.15 trillion baht worth of goods from Japan while it exported produce worth 698 billion baht.

In the first nine months of this year, trade value between the two countries reached 1.3 trillion baht, down 6.62% from the same period of last year. Thailand's exports to Japan dropped by 8% to 797.6 billion baht over the period and its imports fell 4% to 504.7 billion baht.

The meeting between Mr Don and Mr Kishida was held ahead of the Apec ministerial meeting which started yesterday afternoon with a number of economic issues on the agenda, especially free trade and economic integration.

At the meeting, Mr Don told the Apec ministers that Thailand supports the Renewed Apec Agenda on Structural Reform, focusing on inclusive growth, innovation and services. 

He also gave special thanks to several Apec economies which continue to contribute to infrastructure projects in the country and its neighbours. After the ministerial meeting ends today, Gen Prayut will join the Apec leaders to discuss economic development in the region tomorrow and Thursday.

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