Thailand looks to new China trade

China is increasing its investment in Southeast Asia and Thailand may be in a position to become Beijing's regional investment hub, Amparwon Pichalai, director of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office under the Ministry of Commerce, said on Tuesday.

Mrs Amparwon said  China was increasing its role in the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and was an important trading partner of all Asean members.

The value of Sino-Thai trade rose to US$457 billion in 2013, up 10.2% on in 2012, she said.

Mrs Amparwon said China was developing its inner zones, including Chongqing, and its investors were looking for business opportunities in Sihanoukville in Cambodia. However, the Cambodian province might not be ready to accept a huge investment from China because Cambodia had a limited number of skilled workers and was one of the least developed countries, she said.

She proposed that Thailand convince Cambodia to jointly develop a special economic zone close to its border near Ban Khlong Luek area of Thailand's Trat province. She said the use of cheap Cambodian labour in the zone could attract Chinese investors. 

Mrs Amparwon also said Thailand should connect its planned double-track railway to a high-speed train system from China, to support Thai exports to China as well as to the European Union. China already had a high-speed cargo train service between Chongqing and Belgium. A trip on the route takes only two weeks.

Mrs Amparwon said a railway from Chongqing to the China-Laos border would facilitate Asean-China trade and the stronger purchasing power of Chinese households would benefit Thai tourism and exports,  including electronic and electrical products, automobiles, furniture, home decorations, ornaments and processed foods.

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