Thailand seeks trade boost with Malaysia

Thailand is looking to boost its trade relationship with Malaysia, with efforts to remove hurdles to cross-border trade with the latter in Songkhla’s Sadao district.

Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said that Thailand is now looking to double the number of immigration personnel within the Sadao border to 100 as well as widen existing roads to six lanes from only four at present.

This as existing checkpoints were said to have been plagued by customs bottlenecks, blocking the entry of goods and tourists.

Construction of the second checkpoint is expected for completion next month despite differing opinions from the two countries over the building of a new road connection.

Jurin also noted that despite Thailand and Malaysia’s agreement to open the checkpoint 24 hours a day, exports of Thai food to Malaysia remain slow due to the Food and Drugs Administration’s lack of manpower outside office hours at the checkpoint.

This prompted the governor of Songkhla to ask the provincial public health to send officials to ease the problem.

The government and the Ministry of Commerce said that boosting the border trade will play a key role in improving the economy and the livelihoods of their constituents, and simultaneously buoy trade value.

As part of its efforts, Thailand and Malaysia are set to host an event in the latter’s five northern states by October to November this year. It was aimed at helping entrepreneurs from both countries.

Thai businessmen and exporters are expected to attend the occasion.

After the event, the two countries are expected to set a final schedule to conclude business deals among their entrepreneurs.

In 2018, the Thai-Malaysian trade was estimated at over 803 billion baht. During the first half of the year alone, it was valued at 387 billion baht.

Border trade between the two countries accounts for 70 percent of the total trade value.

‘Prioritize national interest’

Meanwhile, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat, speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, stressed the need for agencies to first consider national interest when providing incentives and privileges to woo foreign investors.

She said the prime minister wanted measures to be designed in a way that will lead to a distribution of income to support the grassroots economy.

She said this should also give small-and-medium sized entrepreneurs an opportunity to take part in the industry supply chain.