THE TARGET for bilateral trade between Thailand and Vietnam has been set at US$20 billion by 2020, said Thai-Vietnam Business Council’s president Sanan Angubolkul during an interview with The Nation yesterday.
In 2017, Thai-Vietnamese bilateral trade stood at US$16 billion in total value. Of which, Thailand exported up to US$11 billion worth of products to the country while Vietnam exported US$5 billion to Thailand, said Sanan, who is also chairman of Srithai Superware Plc.
Thailand benefits a lot from trading with Vietnam but Vietnam also gains from importing goods from Thailand as most of the Thai exports are capital goods, he explains. Hence, Thai exports help push the development of the manufacturing industry in Vietnam, he says.
The bilateral trade value between Thailand and Vietnam amounted to US$12 billion from January to August this year, growing 14.9 per cent from the same period last year, according to the Thai-Vietnam Business Council. Some of the key Thai investors in Vietnam are Thai BEV, Central Group and SCG.
The Thai-Vietnam Business Council represents private enterprises in Thailand that are trading or investing in Vietnam.
“Our partner is the Vietnam-Thai Business Council, our counterpart in Vietnam. Through sharing networks, information and know-how, we aim to promote investment and trade between Thailand and Vietnam,” Sanan says.
“We have up to 500 entrepreneurs in our network who are trading or investing in Vietnam 90 per cent of which are successful,” he says.
The Thai-Vietnam Business Council works to demonstrate to the Vietnam side that Thai entrepreneurs are strategic partners who can improve the manufacturing industry and infrastructure of Vietnam as opposed to aggressive competitors who are looking to dominate the Vietnamese market, Sanan explains.
The most challenging issue facing Thai exports is the introduction of trade barrier on automobile parts by the Vietnamese government, says Sanan.
This is because Vietnam is going to launch its own nationally-produced car brand called ‘VINFAST’.
“Hence, it has introduced non-tariff barriers against exporters of automotive parts which makes up a significant amount of Thai exports to Vietnam,” says Sanan.
“The Thai-Vietnam Business Council along with the Ministry of Commerce have cooperated in negotiating with the Vietnamese government to reduce these trade barriers,” Sanan continues.
“The negotiation is currently in progress, and Thailand aims to establish a certified body to test the cars and automotive parts in Thailand and sidestep the trade barrier,” he says.
Another initiative to boost exports to Vietnam and encourage Thai small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to trade and invest in the neighbouring country is through a ‘Mentorship Programme’ which will be launched in 2019. This programme will bring together entrepreneurs who have both failed and succeeded in trading and investing profitably in Vietnam as well as prospective entrepreneurs who are interested in the Vietnamese market.
The mentors will then give constructive advice and access the readiness of their mentees to trade and invest in Vietnam. Sanan expects this programme to be more successful than past business matching events, which he says has not produced very impressive results.