Wed 9 Feb 2011
Filed under: Business / Trade
The Foreign Trade Department yesterday reported that cross-border trade increased by 21.74 per cent last year to Bt778 billion, thanks to full implementation of the Asean Free Trade Agreement in January last year. Export to the four countries bordering Thailand – Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Burma – surged by 32.88 per cent to Bt486 billion
Cross-border imports rose 6.8 per cent to Bt291.47 billion last year, with Thailand enjoying a trade surplus of Bt194.92 billion.
“In spite of some conflict along the border with Cambodia, closure of a checkpoint with Burma, and some minor problems, crossborder trade is likely to play a more important role for Thailand with closer economic cooperation under the Asean Economic Community,” said Pongpun Gearaviriyapun, deputy director general of the Foreign Trade Department.
She said the conflict with Cambodia should have only a shortterm impact on crossborder trade. Another negative factor is the temporary closure of the Thai-Burmese border checkpoint between Mae Sot and Myawaddy since July. That checkpoint accounts for 60 per cent of total crossborder trade between Thailand and Burma.
Pongpun also expects crossborder trade to move slowly in the second half of this year because of the projected weakening of the Vietnamese dong and Chinese yuan against the baht. Vietnam and China are major trade rivals for Thai goods. Neighbouring countries may turn to lowerpriced products from highervalue Thai goods.
Positive factors expected to contribute to growth in crossborder trade this year include recovering economic growth in neighbouring countries, with Malaysia’s gross domestic product projected to expand 5 per cent, Burma’s 5.5 per cent, Cambodia’s 6 per cent, and Laos’ 7.5 per cent.
Strong economic growth in neighbouring countries will drive demand for Thai goods, she said. Moreover, the stability of Burma’s government after its general election and the relaxation of trade policies will be positive factors driving trade and investment.
Construction of the Xayaburi Dam in Laos will also encourage demand for con?struction materials and fuel from Thailand.
The department expects that crossborder trade with Malaysia will grow by 10 per cent to Bt547 billion, with Burma by 7.8 per cent to Bt148.6 billion, with Laos by 20 per cent to Bt104.6 billion, and with Cambodia by 8 per cent to Bt59.8 billion.
Malaysia is Thailand’s biggest crossborder trading partner, accounting for almost 65 per cent, followed by Burma with 17 per cent, Laos with 11 per cent and Cambodia at 7 per cent.