Thailand and Vietnam plan to boost bilateral trade and investment by 20 per cent within the next three years by cooperating more closely through holding joint cabinet meetings and later under the Asean Economic Community.
The goal is scheduled to be announced at the second joint cabinet meeting between Thailand and Vietnam in Hanoi today. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will lead her Cabinet on the mission to the Vietnamese capital.
In 2011, bilateral trade between the two nations was worth US$9.08 billion (Bt277 billion). Exports from Thailand were valued at $7.05 billion, with imports from Vietnam of $2.03 billion.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said closer collaboration on rice trading would be one of the key topics of discussion among the leaders.
"The cooperation will go beyond the cooperation framework among Asean rice producers. With a strong commitment and mandate from the leaders, the two nations will join forces to work against price dumping in the rice trade to stabilise the price in the world market," Boonsong said.
Bangkok and Hanoi will also cooperate in dividing up the rice market in the near future so that neither country will need to resort to cutting prices. The countries will also seek to eliminate both tariff and non-tariff barriers to rice trading with third countries, and help solve other problems relating to rice trading and standards.
After getting a clear mandate from the leaders, officials will discuss how to cooperate on adding value to rice and processed-rice goods to boost price sustainability.
Moreover, Thailand plans to set up a distribution centre for Thai goods in Vietnam. The Kingdom may build silos and milling plants in Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia to help develop milling standards among Asean rice producers.
Thailand and Vietnam will also strengthen cooperation on tapioca trading under the Tapioca Producer and Exporter Consortium.
A source from the Commerce Ministry warned that closer rice-trade cooperation between Thailand and Vietnam could be difficult to achieve because of the large gap in the price of rice in the two countries. The price of Thai 5-per-cent white rice is currently quoted at $570 a tonne, while Vietnamese rice is $490.
This will be the second joint cabinet session between the two countries. The first was in 2004 under the government of Thaksin Shinawatra. An agreement to resume the joint meetings was reached when Yingluck visited Vietnam last November.
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