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Australia to invest in Eastern corridor to boost ties

Australia plans to invest in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) to elevate bilateral trade ties, Thai trade representative Nalinee Thavisin said on Friday.

Speaking after discussing the matter with Angela Macdonald, the Australian ambassador to Thailand, Ms Nalinee said Australia has an interest in EEC investment, especially in water and infrastructure development.

Australia is Thailand’s eighth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade growing to US$18.3 billion last year. The volume is expected to continue growing in line with Australia’s economic strategy and investment in the Southeast Asia region by 2040.

Ms Nalinee said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in September announced a four-year budget of around 2.2 billion baht for the plan.

Thailand has an interest in cooperating with Australia in agricultural technology, labour development through education, and renewable energy, Ms Nalinee said.

Thailand and Australia have signed three trade agreements: the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

The TAFTA will mark its 20th anniversary in 2025. As such, both countries agreed to hold activities to encourage more business operators to capitalise on its privileges. Next month, Thailand will host the Market Access Implementing Committee (MAIC) under the framework of TAFTA in a bid to further boost bilateral trade, Ms Nalinee said.

This summer, Australia opened a cooked duck market for Thai companies, allowing exports of up to 1,200 tonnes a year with a value of about 400 million baht, Ms Nalinee said.

In exchange, Thailand is alliowing the import of avocados from Australia, stressing the importance of elevated bilateral cooperation in agricultural products.

Thailand’s other exports to Australia include vehicles, automotive parts, air conditioners, gems, natural rubber and plastic pellets.

Ms Nalinee said after another talk with Serap Ersoy, the Turkish ambassador to Thailand, that Thailand and Turkey are looking to forge a free trade agreement (FTA) by early next year.

Negotiations have been carried out seven times, but the process was halted in 2021 due to internal issues in Turkey. If the agreement is made, it will enhance both trade and diplomatic ties. This marks the 65th year since Thailand and Turkey established diplomatic relations.

“The ambassador also invited Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Thai trade representatives to visit Turkey because there has been no such executive visit from Thai government leaders to Turkey for more than 20 years,” she said.

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