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Thailand and Burma plan to have a joint trade committee meeting next month in an attempt to boost two-way trade and investment.
The move is part of the countries’ strategy to drive overall border trade volume to reach 1.5 trillion baht (US$4.5 billion) next year.
The first meeting will be chaired by Thai Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya and his Burmese counterpart.
It will cover cooperation between the twin cities of Mae Sot in Tak province and Burma’s Myawaddy, the setting up of the Thailand–Burma Business Council and the raising of awareness of businesses both in and outside the two areas.
The discussion will also include suggestions to tackle problems and obstacles to border trade, with the conclusion to be submitted to the policy committee on special economic zone development chaired by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
However, Thailand’s Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said the Commerce Ministry would first call a meeting with government agencies including the Board of Investment, Customs Department, National Economic and Social Development Board and the Highways Department as well as private companies from the two countries tomorrow and Saturday in Mae Sot to monitor border trade, address trade obstacles and prepare for establishing the special economic zone.
In October, the government’s policy committee on special economic zone development approved the boundaries of zones in five border areas covering 10 districts with a total area of 1.83 million rai to be set up in 2015-16.
They are Mae Sot, Phop Phra and Mae Ramat districts in Tak; Muang, Wan Yai and Don Tan districts in Mukdahan; Sadao district in Songkhla; Aranyaprathet and Watthana Nakhon districts in Sa Kaeo; and Khlong Yai district in Trat.
Phase two will comprise six potential locations: Mae Sai and Chiang Khong districts in Chiang Rai; Sangkhla Buri district in Kanchanaburi; Nakhon Phanom province; Nong Khai province; and Sungai Kolok district in Narathiwat.
Thailand’s border trade with Malaysia, Burma, Laos and Cambodia has recorded average growth of more than 10 percent a year over the past five years.
Next year, the Commerce Ministry has set a target for border trade of 1.5 trillion baht, up from an estimated 1.1 trillion this year and against 924 billion baht in 2013.
For the first 10 months of this year, border trade amounted to 812 billion baht, up 6.49 percent year-on-year.
Thailand’s border trade with Burma is expected to grow by 10 percent this year from 197 billion baht last year.
For the first 10 months, Thailand’s border trade with Burma surged by 7.89 percent to 173 billion baht, with 77.7 billion from exports and 96 billion from imports.
Officials from Burma and Thailand will meet next month to approve the framework of the delayed Dawei megaproject.
This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post.