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Trade on agenda for Yingluck’s meeting with Japanese prime minister

The Nation, Thailand

Trade on agenda for Yingluck’s meeting with Japanese prime minister

By Petchanet Pratruangkrai, The Nation

16 January 2013

Thailand will propose a boost in bilateral trade with Japan to US$100 billion by 2017 through closer cooperation via both government and the private sector.

The goal is to be proposed during the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during his first official visit to Bangkok tomorrow and Friday after his return to the post.

"The declaration by the two countries’ leaders to set a clear trading target would create positive signals for traders and investors that government will continue to support trade growth and come up with measures to ensure stronger ties between the two nations," said a source in the Commerce Ministry.

The source explained that normally during a bilateral meeting with a trading partner, the two leaders would come out with a clear announcement on promoting bilateral trade, as this has a positive impact on the public. However, Thailand and Japan did not announce any trade goal during the previous meeting between Yingluck and Abe’s predecessor.

Two-way trade between Thailand and Japan was worth $65 billion (Bt1.95 trillion) in 2011. Japan is Thailand’s largest import market, valued at $42.2 billion that year. Japan is also Thailand’s No 3 export market after Asean and China. Shipments to Japan were worth $23.87 billion in 2011.

During the first 11 months of 2012, Thai exports to Japan were down by 2 per cent to $21.73 billion, while imports grew by 17.66 per cent to $45.93 billion.

Also on the agenda during Abe’s visit is a proposal by the Commerce Ministry that Japan allow import of frozen chicken from Thailand after the Kingdom has been safe from bird flu for many years. Thailand will urge Japan to send officials to inspect Thai chicken farms and processing plants soon.

Moreover, Japan will be asked to reduce more tariffs on Thai agricultural goods and processed foods under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (Jtepa). Targeted products are mainly rice, pork, sugar, fishery products, nuts, tapioca and processed foods.

Meanwhile, it is also expected that Japan will propose that Thailand cut some of its tariffs on industrial goods under the Jtepa.

The two countries will also discuss how to promote investment between them and to third countries in Asean region, particularly involving the Dawei project in Myanmar.

They will discuss how to develop infrastructure in the Kingdom to attract more investment to Thailand and the region.