Thailand & China, strong ally, put on a PR face, to cover-up weakening economic linkage

Thailand and China, strong strategic ally on national security and politics, is trying to use public relations to cover-up, deteriorating economic linkage, as other ASEAN countries, gain more importance and competitive edge over Thailand. Thailand will lose an estimated US$3.62 billion worth of trade in the Chinese market to Cambodia, Laos, Burma [Myanmar] and Vietnam over the next five years due to their better labour competency and higher manufacturing quality, said Aat Pisanwanich, director of the Centre for International Trade Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

“The influx of foreign investors both from ASEAN and beyond ASEAN, such as South Korea and Japan, will help to reinforce the labour capability and manufacturing quality of those countries,” said Aat Pisanwanich.  Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to overtake Thailand in 2019.

China Daily, the official voice of China reports (Source) under the headline: “China, Thailand pledge to expand economic, investment co op” said China and Thailand on has pledged to further enhance cooperation on economic, trade and investment so as to promote bilateral ties to a higher level, adding the agreement was reached during the 3rd China-Thailand Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation Meeting held here in Beijing, which was co-chaired by Chinese State Councilor Wang Yong and visiting Thai Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula.

“Both sides agreed that the 21st century maritime Silk Road initiative raised by China shared extensive common interests with Thai economic development plan and provided broad space for bilateral economic cooperation. Noting that the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties will come next year, Wang said China and Thailand should continue to expand bilateral trade and provide a favorable environment for each other’s enterprises to invest. He encouraged both sides to enhance cooperation in areas including trade, investment, railway and infrastructure of flood control,” said China Daily, quoting Xinhua.

Pridiyathorn said Thailand is willing to work with China to further tap the potential of cooperation in energy, infrastructure, trade of agricultural products, finance, information and space technology, and culture.

However, several local Thailand press, reports Aat Pisanwanich, said ASEAN is providing stiff competition for Thailand. “As a consequence, this will definitely affect existing ASEAN players, particularly Thailand.”

ASEAN members have a 10 percent market share of trade in China valued at $250 billion a year. Among ASEAN, Thailand is now second only to Malaysia in the Chinese market, with a 1.95 percent share. In 2019, ASEAN’s market share in China is expected to grow to 11 percent, with China’s trade amounting to $2 trillion. During the period, Thailand’s market share is forecast to grow to 1.97 percent, but the nation’s ranking is projected to slip to fourth place, as Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to overtake Thailand in 2019.

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