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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    18 September  2012

Border trade 'to double' under Asean integration


Thailand's border trade with neighbouring countries is targeted to double to 2 trillion baht (US$64 billion) by 2015, thanks to the seamless market brought by the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

"Cross-border trade continues to play a more important role for Thailand with closer economic cooperation ahead of the AEC," Olarn Chaipravat, president of Thailand Trade Representative, said yesterday. "More Asean members, especially Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, are reducing duties and will need to trade and promote more investment from Thailand."

The government is counting on cross-border trade to help its plan to strengthen the economy amid the anticipated global slowdown due to the euro debt crisis in the next several years.

After the first meeting of the working committee for cross-border trading and investment promotion, Olarn said Asean trade should double because of zero duties under the AEC. The Thai government will promote trade, investment and tourism among Asean nations. The government has drawn up five action plans for cross-border trade and investment.

Labour-intensive business will be given incentives to set up plants in neighbouring countries and export to third markets. This will help alleviate the labour shortage at home and allow Thai enterprises to enjoy better export privileges, as neighbouring countries have been given preferential tariffs by developed nations.

The agricultural industry will be moved towards integration to supply third countries besides Asean.

Tourism connectivity will be improved among Asean countries. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Thailand and neighbouring countries will be developed and promoted to ensure they are competitive.

More border checkpoints will be developed. Five permanent checkpoints will be upgrade to international checkpoints and at least 10 temporary points will be made permanent, he added.

Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the Thai National Shippers Council, called on the government's support for the opening of commercial banks in neighbouring countries, focusing on Myanmar and Cambodia. That would make it more convenient for Thai investors and traders to operate in each country.

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