THAILAND and Myanmar are aiming to achieve US$20 billion (Bt690 billion) worth of cross-border trade in 2021, more than three times the $6 billion targeted for this year.
The targets were unveiled at a meeting of government and business figures from both countries in Mae Sot district, Tak province, yesterday.
Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said the bilateral goals reflected rising cross-border trade values between Thailand and its neighbours that are expected to rise 22 per cent to Bt1.8 trillion, from Bt1.47 trillion last year.
For 2016, trade with Myanmar came in at Bt187.96 billion, of which Bt109.33 billion came from Thai exports of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and sugar. Thailand imported from its western neighbour Bt78.62 billion of products including natural gas, fisheries produce, pork and cattle.
Of the Bt187.96 billion total trade value between the two countries last year, some Bt80.69 billion was booked at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.
Encouraged by the strong trade volumes at the Mae Sot-Myawaddy crossing, officials from Thailand’s Commerce Ministry and Myanmar’s Planning and Finance Ministry joined with the business figures at the meeting yesterday to hatch the Mae Sot-Myawaddy Model. This will serve as a pilot project for expanded border trade with other neighbouring countries.
Apiradi said Mae Sot-Myawaddy was the most important of the border crossings between Thailand and Myanmar. This status prompted its selection as a business model for the promotion of trade at other crossings. In recognition of this, a bilateral trade promotion entitled Stronger Together opened in Mae Sot on Tuesday and will continue until next Tuesday.
The event also highlights the Mae Sot-Myawaddy crossing as hub for the jewellery trade, tourism and trade in goods such as medicine.
Both countries will promote the crossing as a single-stop inspection corridor.
Tak is in a special economic zone that will promote investment between Thailand and Myanmar under the East-West Economic Corridor. The project also extends to Vietnam.