Thailand's foreign trade policy
Thailand is an emerging economy that is highly dependent on exports. In 2018, exports accounted for more than two-thirds of the country’s GDP.
The country’s main export partners are the United States (11.4% of total exports), the European Union (10.3%), China (11%), Japan (9.6%), and Hong Kong (5.3%).
As exports are crucial to the country’s economic prosperity, the Royal Thai government proactively promotes international trade mainly on three different levels.
1. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
The ASEAN trade bloc is a central market and investment base for Thai companies, in particular, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
The Thai government has put several measures in place to enhance trade with its ASEAN neighbours. As part of its Trade & Investment Promotion Strategy, Thailand is actively promoting Thai products and services in the ASEAN region.
It has also set up distribution centres in other countries and strengthened ties with its neighbours on both a B2B and a government level during the past years.
2. Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS)
The GMS is a trans-national region of the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia and home to more than 300 million people. It includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and parts of China.
The goal of the GMS is to increase trade, especially in the fields of agriculture, investment, and tourism. Therefore, the GMS countries have implemented a Cross-Border Transport Agreement (CBTA) to speed up customs and immigration procedures at the priority border-crossing points.
The GMS also implemented several other agreements to streamline cross-border supply chains and allow the member countries to share natural resources, labour, capital, technology, and expertise.
3. Bilateral Trade Agreements
The third focus area of Thailand’s foreign trade policy is the further development of bilateral trade agreements. Thailand has signed such agreements not only with its neighbouring countries but all around the world.
Just last month, for example, the Thai government has announced to pick up the negotiations with the European Union to come to a mutual trade agreement. This agreement is proposed to be similar to what Vietnam has recently accomplished with its EU-Vietnam trade deal.
To sum up, Thailand is undertaking significant efforts to foster international trade and build up relationships with other countries. While businesses benefit from these agreements, they can also go one step further and use the opportunities provided by digital trade technology to reach out to international partners.
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