Thailand keen to retain border trade growth with Myanmar

Thailand’s border trade is expected to grow 10-14 percent this year from an estimated 1.6 trillion baht in 2017, driven by growing demand for Thai goods, underlining the importance of partnerships on trade and investment as well as working to improve trade with minor cities in neighbouring countries.

Adul Chotinisakorn, deputy director–general of the Foreign Trade Department, said Thailand’s Young Entrepreneur Network Development Programme (YEN-D) is instrumental to border trade growth.

Launched in 2015 to encourage Thai entrepreneurs to invest abroad and gain knowledge of the regional market as well as the trade and investment regulations of Thailand’s neighbours, the YEN-D programme features familiarisation trips and special training courses for young businesspeople in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand to help them better understand each other’s cultures and regulations.

To be selected, Thai entrepreneurs have to be under 45 and come from business families. Governments in other participating countries have similar criteria.

Mr Adul said Thailand’s border trade value was estimated at 1.6 trillion baht for 2017, up 12.7% from 1.42 trillion in 2016. Malaysia controlled the largest market share of about 50%, followed by Myanmar with 20pc, Laos 20pc and Cambodia 10pc. Thailand’s border trade has grown between 10-14pc a year over the last five years.

The Commerce Ministry, which will hold a border trade committee meeting this month to discuss the 2018 target, is bullish that growth will continue in the same range as the last five years.

In a related development, the Foreign Trade Department will lead a trade mission later this month to Nay Pyi Taw to discuss with Myanmar authorities about possible investment collaboration in Shan State, the biggest state in that country.

Mr Adul said Shan State strongly demands Thai investment in electricity, hotels, restaurants, agro-industry and tourism–related businesses. Late last year, the department led a trade mission to Shan State with several large Thai companies including the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), Bangkok Mass Transit System Plc, the Port Authority of Thailand and Amata Corporation Plc.

He said Shan State is in dire need of electricity development and PEA is keen to expand its investment there.