As a gateway to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and with strong economic growth, Russia is urging Thai enterprises to invest in various industries, mainly manufacturing and tourism services.
Vladimir Romanov, acting Russian trade representative in Thailand, said the Kingdom should be investing and trading more with his country as the federation has potential for stronger growth.
Potential sectors for Thai businesses include auto parts, electronic, food processing, feed meal, agriculture, and tourism and services.
He said Russia was a new favoured destination for tourists. With high expertise in tourism service management and in operating hotels, restaurants, spas and healthcare facilities, Thai investors have a great opportunity to expand into Russia.
According to Russian data, the number of foreign tourists visiting the federation last year increased by 10 per cent to 2.6 million.
Expanding into Russia would not only offer opportunities for Thai investors to reach the Russian market itself, which has a large population and strong economic growth of more than 4 per cent a year, but also to penetrate other CIS countries.
Moreover, Romanov noted that Thailand was one of his country’s major trade partners and was considered its biggest market in Asean. With the approach of Asean economic integration in a couple of years, Russia wants to strengthen ties with the Kingdom as it foresees Thailand as a gateway to other countries in the region.
The Thai and Russian governments have set a goal of doubling the volume of annual bilateral trade volume to US$10 billion by 2016 from between $4 billion and $5 billion (Bt117 billion to Bt146 billion) in recent years, which would open room for Thai export growth.
Last year, trade between Thailand and Russia was worth $5.17 billion. Thailand had a trade deficit with Russia worth $2.19 billion.
The trade representative said that as the two nations have only three years to increase trade volume to the target, they should forge closer cooperation to promote trade and investment between the two sides.
Many Russian businesses of all sizes have also looked at investing more in Thailand in various sectors. Of particular interest are software and electronics production.
Russian companies also aim to increase the volume of their exports to Thailand. Russia wants to export commercial and military aircraft to Thailand as it does to other countries in this region, he said. More exports of medical equipment, machinery and fertiliser could also be seen.
For its part, Thailand currently exports agricultural products such as rice, rubber, canned fruits, frozen seafood, and frozen and processed chicken to Russia.
Moreover, Thailand is one of the most favoured destinations for Russian tourists. About 1.3 million of them visit per year, and spending per head has increased in line with better incomes, he said.
Meanwhile, Russia has urged Thailand to think carefully about a proposed ban on asbestos imports because of concerns over the health and safety of consumers. Thailand and Russia have set up a working committee to consider the issue. Romanov expects it to come up with concrete solutions to allow asbestos imports to Thailand.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, Thailand imported 50,816.5 tonnes ($22.7 million worth) of asbestos from Russia last year to support domestic industry. Asbestos is a generic trade name of a group of natural minerals whose crystals occur in fibrous forms. Thailand only uses chrysotile fibre for the manufacture of asbestos-cement sheets and asbestos-cement pipes.