Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman, China’s National Development and Reform Commission
Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman, China’s National Development and Reform Commission

China-Japan Cooperation on Eastern Economic Corridor of Thailand

opinion June 04, 2018 12:11

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The article is an excerpt from Ning Jizhe’s speech at a seminar on China-Japan Cooperation on Eastern Economic Corridor of Thailand held in Bangkok May 31, 2018.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations 43 years ago, the bilateral relationship between Thailand and China has maintained a momentum of vigorous development, cooperation in economy and trade, science and education, people-to-people and cultural exchange has been fruitful. 

China maintains Thailand’s largest trading partner and No.1 source of tourists, while Thailand is China’s third largest trading partner in ASEAN countries. China-Thailand investment cooperation is becoming closer. The China-Thailand high-speed rail project was successfully launched. 

For the third-party market cooperation on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which Japan also involved. I would like to make three points regarding the EEC.

First, the EEC has become the national strategy of Thailand, winning extensive attention and positive response. Since the concept of the EEC was put forward in 2015, government agencies and companies of Thailand have been working hard to push for the smooth progress of the early stage work. Just this month, the EEC Act was formally adopted, providing legal guarantee for the implementation of the strategy.

Second, the EEC has geographical location and potential for development. Stretching over Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong, the region boasts basic conditions, dynamic economy and a high level of development. It is the region with the highest per capita GDP in Thailand. Inside the corridor, the transportation is convenient, the level of industrialization high, and the supporting industries complete. It can easily reach the Southwest China in the North and Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other countries in the South, exerting a strong effect of economic agglomeration.

Third, the EEC is expected to become a new economic growth pole in Thailand and even Southeast Asia. The building of the EEC plays an important role in promoting regional economic growth, elevating the level and quality of industrial development, and will certainly contribute to the economic prosperity and the improvement of people’s livelihood in the region.

As for the China-Thailand bilateral cooperation and the China-Thailand- Japan trilateral cooperation in the EEC, I also have three points to make.

First, The leaders of China and Thailand attach great importance to aligning China’s “Belt and Road”; initiative with the ECC and other strategies of Thailand. In January this year, when Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Prayut met in Phnom Penh, both sides agreed to strengthen the complementarity of strategies and practical cooperation. Thailand is implementing the 4.0 strategy to speed up economic transformation and upgrading. China is vigorously developing the digital silk road. At present, the number of unicorn enterprises in China ranks first in the world. Digital economy and platform economy add new momentum to China’s development. We are willing to and also able to strengthen connection with Thailand.

Second, we are willing to conduct the three-party cooperation in the EEC. When Prime Minister Prayut met with State Councilor Wang Yi in March this year, he explicitly voiced his support for the third-party market cooperation in the EEC. During his visit to Japan in May this year, Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe witnessed the signing of the MoU on third-party market cooperation between the two countries. The consensus of the leaders has laid an important foundation for mutually beneficial cooperation between enterprises of the three parties in the EEC.

Third, cooperation between China, Thailand and Japan is highly exemplary. The three countries each has its own features in terms of industrial structure, and are highly complementary in terms of economic system. There is a broad prospect for the three countries to carry out cooperation in the EEC. Under the co-ordination of the Thai side, enterprises of the three countries can work closely and reinforce each other through mutual learning to push for greater success of the EEC.

I would like to offer three suggestions on the three-party cooperation in the EEC.

The first is to follow the overall planning and give full play to the role of enterprises. On the basis of respecting the overall planning of the EEC, and in keeping with the principle of companies conducting market-oriented cooperation in accordance with business rules and international common practices, efforts shall be made to promote mutually beneficial cooperation among the three parties for win-win results. We support enterprises of the three parties in drawing on their respective strengths, conducting mutually beneficial cooperation and jointly promoting the development of the EEC.

The second is to strengthen intergovernmental communication and serve the cooperation of enterprises. We should strengthen policy communication and exchanges between government agencies of the three parties, encourage enterprises to cooperate effectively in the EEC, and to exchange and share relevant policies, and information about industries and projects, and facilitate their cooperation with comprehensive services.

The third is to make a start with specific projects and gradually broaden cooperation. We should encourage enterprises of the three parties to make reasonable choice of specific cooperation projects, explore the key projects and areas of cooperation, study the feasibility and operation mode of the cooperation projects, seek converging interests, and gradually expand cooperation.

Last but not least, we wish the building of the EEC a smooth progress, and we hope that enterprises from China, Thailand and Japan will strengthen coordination and cooperation, benefit from each other and build the EEC into a corridor of cooperation, win-win, development and friendship, and make positive contributions to increasing multilateral practical cooperation, promoting regional economic growth, and enhancing the well-being of people in Thailand.