November 03, 2012 00:00 By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
Thailand and Myanmar have declared a goal of tripling bilateral trade by 2015 from US$6.1 billion (Bt187 billion) at present under the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and closer cooperation through the Joint Trade Commission.
After the sixth JTC meeting between Thailand and Myanmar in Bangkok yesterday, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said the two sides had agreed to strengthen trade and investment by eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers.
The focus will be on trading across border checkpoints, which accounts for a large portion of trade between the two countries.
The two sides will organise trade fairs in provinces along the border, and promote exchanges of officials, traders and investors to support investment growth in both countries. Meetings will be held to discuss elimination of trade barriers and facilitate investment growth, especially in industrial estates and special economic zones, as well as to support Thai investors in Myanmar’s energy sector.
The countries will also regularly exchange information on trade rules and regulations to keep investors and traders up to date.
Boonsong said Thailand would help Myanmar develop its infrastructure and make temporary border checkpoints permanent. The Kingdom has asked Myanmar to support Thai enterprises looking to invest in the Dawei project and in other parts of the country.
Thailand and Myanmar will strengthen cooperation in the banking sector, focusing on their central banks to ensure a stable baht-kyat exchange rate.
Myanmar is only Thailand’s sixth-largest trading partner in Asean. Bilateral trade was up by 25 per cent year on year to $6.1 billion last year. About 85 per cent of this was in the form of cross-border trading.
The investment picture is different, however, with Thailand the second-biggest foreign investor in Myanmar after China. Since 1988, combined Thai investment in Myanmar was worth $9.5 billion. Most of it went to the energy, electricity, manufacturing, fishery and livestock sectors.
Additionally, Thailand has persuaded Myanmar to cooperate on rice trading to increase the collective bargaining power of Asean countries.
Boonsong said Thailand would continue to pursue closer cooperation on rice trading with Myanmar and other Asean countries. The Commerce Ministry plans for Thailand and other Asean rice producers including Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to announce the establishment of a rice-trading cooperation framework at the upcoming Asean Leaders Summit in Cambodia.