Without a fully functioning government or parliament, Thailand's plans to facilitate and boost trade and investment with neighbouring countries and Asean will hit a snag. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), said several issues, particularly regarding laws and regulations and infrastructure development at border towns, are awaiting a new government's decision.
Three laws on cross-border transport between Thailand and Laos are now pending parliamentary vetting. They are aimed at facilitating trade and transport from Thailand to Laos, and the goods could be transported further via Laos to Vietnam.
Thailand already has a cross-border transport agreement with Cambodia while seeking a similar pact with Myanmar. Mr Arkhom said 41 projects worth 12 billion baht, largely to develop facilities and customs offices at border towns, are also awaiting government endorsement.
The private sector has proposed it should be allowed to share the investment to develop facilities to facilitate cross-border transport and trade if the government fails to provide funding.
Mr Arkhom also urged Thai authorities to speed up developing more temporary checkpoints and upgrade existing ones to permanent checkpoints. The first bilateral meeting of the working committee to discuss developing a special economic zone between Thailand and Cambodia will be held soon.
Mr Arkhom said the NESDB would also continue to seek cooperation from agencies including the Transport Ministry regarding infrastructure development, the Foreign Ministry regarding border boundary disputes, the Finance Ministry on customs and facility development at border towns and the Interior Ministry about upgrading more checkpoints.
A study of the master plan for economic zone development in 12 provinces is expected to be completed in July. The plan will be used as a guideline for zones in border towns and along borders.
Thailand's cross-border trade with its direct neighbours — Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia — has experienced growth each year. It was worth 924 billion baht last year, with exports totalling 560 billion.