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Thai-China trade pact signed

US$140bn in bilateral trade targeted by 2021

A brand new 'comprehensive framework agreement' with the aim of enhancing trade and strengthening economic partnership was signed in Shanghai on Wednesday. (Photo by Seksan Rojjanametakun)

Beijing: Thailand is moving ahead with plans to upgrade economic cooperation with China, agreeing Wednesday to the comprehensive framework on enhancing trade and economic partnership between the two nations and aiming to double bilateral trade to US$140 billion (4.59 trillion baht) by 2021.

According to Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, the comprehensive cooperation will cover seven key areas: trade, investment, science/technology, digital, tourism, finance and regional economic cooperation.

On trade, the two countries have agreed to double two-way trade to $140 billion by 2021 from $73.67 billion in 2017; support Thai entrepreneurs' participation in the China International Import Expo every year; promote cooperation on farm products; and hold meetings of the joint committee and joint working panels on a regular basis.

On the investment front, the framework calls for the two parties to promote investment in targeted industries such as next-generation cars; smart electronics; robotics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; future food; and logistics and aviation.

On science, technology and innovation, the two parties vowed to reinforce the cooperation through human resource cultivation, technology transfer, use of Thailand's Food Innopolis as an R&D venue, participation in China's space programme and science park development.

On digital, the cooperation will focus on cybersecurity, e-commerce, 5G technology, investment in digital parks in Thailand and the upgrade of connectivity in digital infrastructure, both through submarine and fibre-optic cable.

On finance, Thailand and China agreed to promote the use of baht and yuan in bilateral transactions for trade and investment and promote fintech.

On tourism, the two parties pledged to promote quality tourism, tourist safety and tourism-related industries such as film shoots, ferry services and hot springs development.

On the regional cooperation framework, Thailand and China agreed to encourage the private sector to make the best use of the free-trade agreement between Asean and China, building connectivity with the Pan-Pearl River Delta, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation, the Greater Mekong Subregion and the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy.

"China is the world's largest trade partner and one of the top 10 foreign investors in Thailand," Mr Sontirat said. "With at least 1.4 billion people and strong economic growth, China is undeniably one of the world's economic giants, playing a vital part in driving not only Asia, but the global economy."

For the first nine months of the year, two-way trade between Thailand and China topped $45.71 billion, up 11.6% from the same period last year.

Key exports from Thailand included rubber and rubber products, plastic pellets, computers and parts, and chemicals, while major imports from China were electric machines and parts, machinery and parts, home electric appliances, chemicals, and automobiles and parts.

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