The government expects cross-border trade to grow by 5-7% to 1.08-1.1 trillion baht this year, driven by the global recovery, economic and demand growth in neighbouring countries, as well as the baht's weakness.
The Laos-China high-speed train project, which opened on Dec 3, 2021, and the Commerce Ministry's acceleration of reopening border checkpoints should also help improve overall cross-border trade activities this year, according to Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.
Thailand has reopened a total of 48 checkpoints, including those at Tak Bai and Buketa in Narathiwat in the middle of November last year. Some 49 border checkpoints are still closed because of the pandemic.
The ministry aims to reopen 12 more border checkpoints this year, said Mr Jurin, and it pledges to continue working with the private sector to increase trade along the borders and tackle hindrances.
However, a spate of risks still exist, especially the unpredictable Omicron situation and the political and economic outlook in Myanmar, which could affect trade activities along the Myanmar border, he said.
In particular, Myanmar's policy to reduce the usage of foreign currencies to control imports as part of measures to lower the country's balance of payments warrants monitoring, said Mr Jurin.
The ministry reported yesterday Thailand's overall cross-border trade including transit trade tallied 1.71 trillion baht in 2021, robust growth of 30% from a year before. Transit trade involves the passage of goods through more than one country.
Of the total, exports made up 1.03 trillion baht, up 34.6%, while imports rose 23.7% to 684 billion baht, resulting in the country's trade surplus of 347 billion baht. The volume beat the ministry's original target of 3-6% growth with a value of 789-812 billion baht.
He said key factors propelling border trade expansion were the global economic recovery and baht depreciation.