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COMMERCE MINISTRY

Border towns to receive trade boost

THE COMMERCE Ministry plans to bolster cities in border provinces to seize trading and tourism opportunities opening up under the integration of the Asean Economic Community.

The ministry recently established an AEC committee with senior officials from each department to prepare for the advent of the AEC at the end of next year.

Srirat Rastapana, permanent-secretary of the ministry and chairman of the AEC committee, said last week that establishing "AEC cities" was one of the priorities for the government so Thailand will have centres to link with other Asean countries.

The government will focus on increasing trading efficiency and tourist attractions to draw more businessmen from other Asean countries to join the AEC cities.

The ministry will help develop trading areas in the targeted cities and encourage traders to adapt technology so that they can do business with other Asean or foreign traders.

The most promising provinces are those with border checkpoints such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nong Khai, Sa Kaew, Kanchanaburi and some in the South.

The AEC committee will help local companies study other Asean nations, encourage businessmen to learn regional languages, collect and disseminate commercial information and advise on strategies for penetrating each market, as Asean people are diverse in terms of consumer behaviour, religion and lifestyles.

"Thailand needs to focus more on intra-regional trade, as Asean is one of the strongest markets in the [Asian] region.

Many foreign investors have eyed investing and doing more business with Asean neighbours.

"Since Thailand is a member of Asean, companies need to be prompted to do business outside the country. It is time for Thais to spread their wings to other Asean countries, as we can enjoy reduced rules and regulations under regional integration," Srirat said.

Many businesses with potential are waiting for Thais such as house design and decoration, construction, car maintenance and other services.

The committee plans to promote Thai tradespeople to AEC traders. Enterprises will be persuaded to move to electronic commerce and do more trading via the Internet.

To ensure the effectiveness of the AEC committee, the ministry will modernise its work and tighten cooperation with the private sector.

The ministry is also upgrading its human resources by starting up a school for government officials to learn more about trading so that they can gain experience in doing business and understand the needs of real traders.


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