BANGKOK, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said his country hoped to further expand exports to China building on solid bilateral trade cooperation.
"If we look back at the 10-year trend between Thailand and China, when we look at trade values, it has been going up," Jurin told Xinhua in an interview, saying that "in addition to increasing the bilateral trade values between our two countries, we hope to reduce the trade deficit."
Jurin said Thailand and China have strong and prosperous relations for a long time, with the two countries sharing broad partnerships in diplomatic and economic relations.
"China has always been very important (for Thailand)," in terms of both the tourism and export sectors, he said.
The senior official noted that Thailand and China have very strong trade relations and diverse types of cooperation, including bilateral trade agreements, the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
"We do hope to see a big gain from RCEP," he said, which, as the world's largest FTA, will benefit Thailand in terms of bigger market access as well as tariff reductions.
RCEP has entered into force from Jan. 1, which enables "Thailand and other member countries including China to share the prosperity," he said.
China has remained Thailand's largest trading partner for nine consecutive years. Bilateral trade volume surged 33 percent year-on-year to 131.18 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs.
The Thai deputy PM welcomed China's efforts in further opening up its economy and the hosting of the China International Import Expo (CIIE).
"I'm especially impressed by the CIIE because this is a beneficial policy for many countries, including Thailand."
With Thailand's tourism sector hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, "we're left with exports as our key economic driver," Jurin said, adding that the ministry set a target of growing the country's exports by 4 percent this year.
The Thai government hopes to work with the Chinese government to enhance export facilitation such as checkpoints and clearance, Jurin said, "We hope to see more channels to receive Thai products, especially for our food and fruits which Chinese consumers have high demand for."
He also said Thailand expected to see the transportation of more export products to China through the China-Laos Railway, with fruits, vegetables and other products being the prioritized items.
In February, the cross-border railway line, which stretches over 1,000 km and links the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, carried the first shipment of 500-ton Thai rice to southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
Thailand is ready to use the rail route to transport fruits into China after the sanitary and phytosanitary facility at the port of Mohan in southwest China's Yunnan Province is completed by mid-year.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service