FTI wary of conflict's impact on border trade
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FTI wary of conflict's impact on border trade

Fighting will affect transport, logisitics

Thai soldiers patrol the border in Tak province. (File photo: Wassana Nanuam)
Thai soldiers patrol the border in Tak province. (File photo: Wassana Nanuam)

Recent armed conflict in Myanmar is causing concern over a possible further decline in border trade near Tak's Mae Sot district and a spike in illegal workers from Myanmar in Thailand, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

Border trade between Thailand and Myanmar is valued at 100 billion baht a year, though it tends to decrease when the conflict escalates, said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI.

"We are concerned the trade value will drop, affecting both sellers and buyers as Myanmar usually imports a variety of consumer products from Thailand," he said.

The conflict will affect transport and logistics, possibly leading to shortages of goods among Myanmar nationals, said Mr Kriengkrai.

Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said earlier the Thai authorities had recently discussed the border trade situation following a 30% drop in activity in Mae Sot district.

The government is also prepared to accept 100,000 displaced people fleeing the conflict in Myanmar after rebel forces seized control of Myawaddy, a border town opposite Mae Sot district.

"We are closely monitoring illegal migrant workers from Myanmar as the numbers are expected to increase following the conflict," said Suchart Chantaranakaracha, vice-chairman of the FTI.

Myanmar nationals are only permitted to work in Thailand under a memorandum of understanding signed between Bangkok and Naypyidaw.

Workers from Myanmar represent the majority of migrant workers in Thailand, accounting for 1.6 million of a total of 2.6-3 million migrant workers in the country.

Myanmar workers are employed in a range of industries, including food processing, fisheries, garments and textiles, automotive parts, electronics, rubber plantations, and construction.

They are also a major workforce when it comes to sugar cane farming, which is a labour-intensive occupation.

Many sugar cane farmers need to resort to harvesting by burning their crops, although this method causes a significant increase in the quantity of PM2.5 ultra fine dust particles. Harvesting by cutting fresh sugar cane requires a significant number of workers, but there is currently a problem in this regard due to a labour shortage.

Myanmar has faced trade sanctions imposed by the United States and several major European countries, following a military coup that took place against the democratically elected government in 2021.

"Thai companies in Myanmar are not affected by the sanctions because they produce products to only serve the Myanmar market without exporting them to the US and European countries," said Mr Kriengkrai.

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