The Commerce Ministry set an ambitious goal to increase cross-border trade value to 1.2 trillion baht in the upcoming year, representing 20% growth from an estimated 1 trillion this year.
According to Deputy Commerce Minister Napintorn Srisunpang, who was tasked with overseeing the Business Development Department, Trade Negotiations Department and Foreign Trade Department, the ministry plans to meet the target by pushing various community products, geographical indication products and franchises.
The ministry will also organise exhibitions and business-matching events, inviting officials from neighbouring countries and foreign trade associations to discuss ways to reduce trade barriers, said Mr Napintorn.
"All relevant government departments are working on a collective plan on border trade promotion. Border trade promotion activities are slated to start first in major border trade areas such as Chiang Rai, Mae Sot in Tak, Sadao-Padang Besar in Songkhla, Nong Khai, Surin and Buri Ram," he said.
"Although there are still concerns about the purchasing power of neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, which are also facing economic challenges, we believe Thai consumer goods remain popular there based on their quality and reasonable prices. We will also promote cross-border trade with China."
Relevant departments were ordered to work together to promote the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and increase their export capabilities, said Mr Napintorn.
In Thailand, there are around 2 million registered companies, with only 900,000 actively conducting business.
However, when examining cross-border trade performance, which grew by 5.5% last year from 2021 to about 1 trillion baht, he said most of the income was generated by listed or large corporations, accounting for up to 90% of the export value, while only 10% comes from SMEs.
In the past year, SME export income decreased by 6%.
While SMEs in developed countries contribute 40-50% of GDP, the contribution from Thai SMEs to GDP is only 34%, said Mr Napintorn.
"We want to increase SME export income so that SME contributions to GDP reach 35.2%," he said.
In a related development, Mr Napintorn said last week he assigned the Trade Negotiations Department to expedite concluding negotiations on new free trade agreements (FTAs), including with the European Free Trade Association, the EU, United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka, while also embarking on talks with new partners such as Bhutan, South Korea and Israel.
Trade negotiation officials were assigned to meet with counterparts from Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, China and the UK through joint trade committees to speed up addressing trade barriers and expanding market access. The department was also assigned to study the benefits and drawbacks of FTAs with new markets in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.