As the ASEAN Community will be in place in late 2015, Thailand and Malaysia believe that ASEAN integration will help boost their bilateral trade.
Representatives of the two countries discussed trade issues at the second meeting of the Thai-Malaysian Joint Trade Committee, held in Bangkok on 27-28 June 2015. The Thai delegation was led by Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya, while the Malaysian delegation was headed by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
The meeting agreed to increase the bilateral trade target from the existing 25 billion to 30 billion US dollars by 2018. Cross-border trade between the two countries now accounts for 60 percent of total bilateral trade. A joint working group will also be formed to set guidelines for border trade promotion and to reduce trade barriers.
For example, the guidelines will encourage business people to invest in the Sadao special economic zone in Songkhla province and the economic areas in northern and eastern Malaysia.
Thailand is preparing infrastructure to accommodate more border trade by developing roads and railways to facilitate goods transportation. Thailand will coordinate with relevant authorities to consider Malaysia's proposal to improve registration procedures for pharmaceutical products. It will also consider guidelines for pre-packed fresh and minimally processed agricultural produce exported to Malaysia.
Malaysia will consider importing more rice from Thailand. It is now Thailand’s fourth largest trading partner, while Thailand is Malaysia's fifth largest trading partner. Major Thai exports to Malaysia include electronics products, automotive parts, and rubber. Thailand imports mainly chemicals, crude oil, and machines from Malaysia.
Both countries will cooperate more closely in expanding trade and services in the halal industry in the global market. They shared a common view that connectivity was one of the key success factors for the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community.
Meanwhile, Acting Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Juthaporn Rerngronasa said that TAT had launched its first smart phone application designed specifically to make it easier for Muslim visitors to find Muslim-friendly products, services, and facilities across Thailand.
The Muslim-friendly destination strategy is primarily aimed at the Muslim population of about 240 million in the ASEAN region, a significantly large and growing market, especially from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam. This market is expected to grow strongly after the ASEAN integration process advances from 2016 onwards. Thailand has great potential to serve this market.