Thailand, Laos pledge to double trade
Thailand and Laos aim to double bilateral trade to US$8 billion (Bt245 billion) by 2015, as result of closer cooperation under the Asean Economic Community (AEC).This projection was made at their fourth bilateral meeting, attended by Thai Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom and Laotian Minister of Economics, Trade and Industry Nam Vignaket in Bangkok yesterday.
Both countries have agreed to increase cooperation on boosting trade and investment along border provinces as well as eliminate non-tariff barriers under the AEC, which will get rid of tariff barriers.
After the meeting, Boonsong said both nations were confident that two-way trade would gradually increase amid low tariffs and tighter cooperation between the two countries' governments and businesses.
Bilateral trade should be doubled after full liberalisation of both markets under the AEC in 2015, from the current $4 billion. Bilateral investment is also expected to expand as investors would find it easier to move labour and raw materials under the AEC, Boonsong said.
As of last year, two-way trade between Thailand and Laos reached $3.91 billion, up by 35.8 per cent from the previous year. Thai exports were worth $2.78 billion, while imports were valued at $1.12 billion.
To promote growth in trade and investment, Thailand and Laos have proposed to develop efficiency at 10 temporary and permanent border checkpoints covering Thailand's Uttaradit, Pa Yao, Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani provinces.
Boonsong added that the Transport ministries of Thailand and Laos would hold discussions on reducing logistical obstacles to facilitate bilateral trade and trade growth to third countries. Thailand will also provide Bt10 million to promote development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Laos and increasing marketing and product management efficiencies.
The two ministers also discussed ways to overcome the problem of agricultural products from Laos participating in Thailand's pledging project. The ministers agreed to forge closer cooperation to increase the price of rice in Indochina to boost farmers' incomes in the region.