Bahrain express interest in forming joint venture in Thailand
Bahrain is eager to form joint ventures in Thailand, foreseeing the Kingdom as a strong base for trade and investment growth in Asean as well as supporting food security for Arab nations.After a meeting in Bangkok yesterday between Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and Hassan bin Abdulla Fakhro, Bahrain's minister of industry and trade, along with a Bahraini delegation, there was strong interest in tightening bilateral trade and investment ties.
Bahraini enterprises that would like to form joint ventures with Thai enterprises are mainly in the areas of farming - especially rice - processed foods, chicken production, gems and jewellery, healthcare and medical care, tourism, and construction.
Boonsong said the two countries could not only strengthen trade and investment relations bilaterally but also could serve as hubs for Asean and the Middle East. "After forming closer cooperation among the government and private sectors and undergoing many investment exchanges, bilateral trade between Thailand and Bahrain could double within a couple years."
According to International Trade Promotion Department data, trade between Thailand and Bahrain was worth US$429 million (Bt12.8 billion) last year, up by 44 per cent from 2011. Thai exports to Bahrain rose by 16 per cent to $163 million, while imports surged 70 per cent to $266 million.
Boonsong said that with its large agriculture industry and status as a top rice producer, Thailand was also seen as being able to bolster food security for Bahrain and other Middle Eastern countries.
Bahrain was also urged to import more rice from Thailand, especially jasmine rice. Last year, it imported only 10,000 tonnes of Thai rice, mostly the jasmine variety. However, Bahrain would like Thailand to convert some rice plantations to grow the basmati variety, which is in high demand in that country.
Basmati rice is commonly |produced in the South Asian subcontinent.
Fakhro said his country saw a lot of potential for Thailand to serve as an investment hub for Bahraini investors.
"Many Bahraini enterprises in various industries, especially in farming and agricultural industry, would like to form joint ventures with Thai enterprises to support food security for Middle Eastern countries, as Bahrain could be a centre for distributing goods around that region," said the Bahraini minister.
He added that since Bahrain has a bilateral free-trade pact with the United States, Thailand could also use his country as a springboard for exporting foods and goods to the giant US market.
Jesse Liu, executive vice president of Saha Farms Group, said Bahrain had proposed a joint venture with his company in Thailand. The group will today (February 28) meet with Bahraini investors to talk about the details of the proposal.
He said the company believed this deal could open opportunities for future joint projects with Bahraini investors.
Supat Khunthonwiwat, sales and marketing division director of Better Foods, said his company was also opening an opportunity to form a joint venture with Bahraini investors in the future.