China is keen on mega-projects in Thailand and has asked the government here to ensure bidding transparency. Transport Minister Chatchart Sithipan said yesterday after attending a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that the government has invited China to invest in infrastructure, including water management systems and high-speed railways.
Wen has shown tremendous interest in these projects, he said.
China already has a plan to invest in a similar high-speed train project in Laos.
“China has paid attention to infrastructure investment for inter-country transportation in Southeast Asia. Thailand has a plan to construct a high-speed railway to the Laem Chabang deep-sea port and, possibly, to the Dawei deep-sea port in the future,” Chatchart said.
Olarn Chaipravat, president of the Thailand Trade Representative Office, said the government has also asked China to help Thai exporters to overcome trade obstacles, particularly at the local level, due to different local laws in each area of China. The two countries have set a target to raise trade by 15 per cent per year.
Their bilateral trade agreement also requires promotion of trade to other countries and the partners of other trade agreements, including Asean+3 and Asean+6. This should be utilised to support trade at maximum levels, he added.
Payungsak Chartsutipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said after a discussion with Chinese investors that about 140 Chinese companies were eager to make investments through a business association to be established in Thailand. This is expected to help increase two-way trade by 15 per cent as targeted.
Phongsak Assakul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the Chinese premier’s visit has shown Thailand to be China’s ally and it was possible for the targeted increase of both countries’ trade to be achieved.
“There is room for market expansion for the many products both countries trade in,” he said.
Pinij Charusombat, president of the Thai-Chinese Culture and Economic Association, said Sino-Thai trade, investment and tourism could rise to US$200 billion (Bt6.14 trillion) per year in one to two years. The previous annual target was $100 billion.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra plans to call a meeting with Thai and Chinese agencies to discuss possible collaboration in such areas as exports and imports.
“Although the Chinese economy is slowing down and focusing more on domestic consumption, it will not affect Thailand’s trade to China as the Chinese market is huge with high purchasing power,” he said.
Source : The Nation 22 November 2012