Bangkok Post, Thailand
Thai-Lao business blossoms
13 September 2010
The value of cross-border trade between Thailand and Laos is forecast to reach 80 billion baht at the end of this year, as the Thai government is pursuing a new strategy to optimise free trade agreements.
The Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) agreement, which took full effect in January, was becoming a key driver for Thailand’s border trade growth, said Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai.
Mrs Porntiva made the comment at the first Thailand-Laos Border Trade Festival: Gateway Grand Sale in Nong Khai province.
The festival runs until tomorrow and features outstanding products from both countries as well as business matchmaking events.
Border trade between Thailand and neighbouring countries totalled 639.16 billion baht last year, down 10.4% from a year earlier because of the effects of the global recession. Thailand’s overland exports fell 10.8% to 366.11 billion baht and imports were down 9.8% to 273.04 billion, according to Foreign Trade Department statistics.
Cross-border trade between Thailand and Laos was totalled 71.98 billion baht in 2009, a drop of 12%.
But Mrs Porntiva has forecast that border trade will reach one trillion baht over the next three years, now that Afta has cut tariffs on thousands of Asean products to between zero and 5%.
Border trade is also a good channel for acquiring low-cost raw materials with low transport costs, she added.
Mrs Porntiva said the ministry would open three more permanent checkpoints _ in Loei, Nong Khai and Amnat Charoen _ bringing the total on the Thailand-Laos border to 11.