Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul on Tuesday reaffirmed that Thailand will focus on strengthening relations and cooperation with its neighbouring countries as stated as the government’s urgent policy.
The foreign minister emphasised strategic policy implementation as he chaired a meeting of Thai envoys and consuls general posted in the country’s five neighbouring countries–Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.
He urged the Thai diplomats to adhere to the government’s urgent policy which places importance on fostering relations with the neighbouring countries.
Regarding overall relations between the kingdom and its neighbours, the foreign minister said he saw them as having gradually improved, particularly on bilateral cooperation on several issues.
The minister cited the improved relations between Thailand and Cambodia after documents on the border conflict were distributed to local residents to create better understanding, while the talks on the border dispute are also underway at various levels.
Thailand and Vietnam Moving Closer Together as ASEAN Partners
Thailand has stressed its intention to work closely in partnership with Vietnam, which expressed its support for Thailand’s proposal on ASEAN connectivity and the East-West Economic Corridor.
Vietnamese Foreign Minister, Mr. Pham Binh Minh, during his official visit to Thailand on February 6, discussed ways to strengthen Thai-Vietnamese bilateral cooperation with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.
The two countries also touched on the issue of convening the second Thailand-Vietnam Joint Cabinet Retreat. Thailand initiated the first Thailand-Vietnam Joint Cabinet Retreat, which was held in Danang, Vietnam, and Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, on 20-21 February 2004. During Prime Minister Yingluck’s visit to Vietnam on November 30 last year, both countries agreed to assign relevant agencies to convene the second joint cabinet meeting soon.
Thailand and Vietnam have constantly exchanged high-level visits. In particular, the Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam and the Vice President of Vietnam are scheduled to visit Thailand this year. The Thai government has also invited Vietnam to join the World Economic Forum on East Asia and the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit, to be hosted by Thailand in 2012.
The Vietnamese Foreign Minister urged Thai businesses to invest more in Vietnam, while Prime Minister Yingluck reaffirmed her invitation for Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to visit Thailand. Both sides also discussed the establishment of a joint committee to promote rice cooperation in order to strengthen the ASEAN region.
A report from the Office of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, shows that Thailand has retained its status as the world’s largest rice exporter, followed by Vietnam and Pakistan. The report quoted the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which said that, in the next 10 years, Thailand would export 8.6 million tons of rice and Vietnam 7.5 million tons. Notably, Thai rice exports would drop by 14 percent, while Vietnam’s rice exports would increase by 25 percent.
Statistics compiled in 2008 indicate that Vietnamese rice captured 56.9 percent of the market share in ASEAN, while Thai rice had a market share of only 39.6 percent in this region.