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PM emphasises Thai free trade to Japanese business

MCOT News, Thailand

PM emphasises Thai free trade to Japanese business

20 June 2007

BANGKOK, June 20 (TNA) - Despite the current political problems prevailing in Thailand, the country will move ahead with trying to implement the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA), signed earlier this year, as soon as possible for the benefit of both countries, Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Wednesday.

In his address to members of the Thai-Japanese Association, Gen. Surayud said this year is especially important because the two countries celebrate 120 years of diplomatic relations and both nations will try to enforce JTEPA as soon as possible.

He said his government would try to speed the public referendum on the draft constitution and hold a general election as soon as possible so that Thailand can return to a democratic system.

Prime Minister Surayud and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on April 3 signed the JTEPA agreement in Tokyo, aimed at boosting bilateral trade.

Japan is Thailand’s biggest foreign investor and an important export market for Thai products. Trade between the two countries was valued at Bt1.65 trillion (US$44.1 billion) during calendar year 2006.

Thailand’s exports during the first quarter of this year grew 18.5 per cent while gross domestic product expanded between 4-4.5 per cent, he said, adding that his government still focused on free trade and investment as well as trying to boost production and basic infrastructure on the basis of transparency and the sufficiency economy philosophy.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn said Japanese investors still have confidence in the Thai economy as many of them have shown interest in investing more in several projects such as environmentally-friendly automobiles (eco-cars), and in participating on bidding for both subway and elevated train projects. (TNA)