Thailand is in the driver’s seat in connecting the ASEAN Community and beyond. The longest portion of all three main economic corridors runs through Thailand.
The three economic corridors include the East-West Economic Corridor, connecting Myanmar and Vietnam via Thailand and Laos; the North-South Economic Corridor, connecting southern China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand; and the Southern Economic Corridor, running from Vietnam via Cambodia and Thailand to Singapore.
In his remarks at the event “Thailand Business Day” in Berlin, Germany, on 7 June 2013, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul explained that the development of the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar will connect the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and on to the Pacific Ocean through Thailand’s eastern seaboard.
He said that Thailand is also developing high-speed train links to Laos and China. The project will allow products to be distributed in the ASEAN region and beyond much more quickly and effectively. ASEAN has become a production base and market of some 600 million people. With Thailand already starting a free trade agreement negotiation with the European Union, he said, access to ASEAN will soon be much easier for European investors.
Mr. Surapong cited two potential areas of cooperation between Thailand and Germany. The first area is the green economy. Thailand wants to pursue more actively cooperation with Germany in sustainable green technology. Cooperation with the private sector is also very important. Thailand needs to learn not only about its technology, but also the transitional mechanism and how Thailand can raise public awareness.
The second one is education, particularly vocational education. He believes that cooperation in this area will be mutually beneficial in providing the two countries with skilled labor. In May 2013, Thailand and Germany signed a memorandum of understanding to establish their partnership in this area.
Regarding bilateral trade volume, he said, the level of investment and the number of German tourists visiting Thailand continue to increase. Thailand’s political stability and its investment-friendly policies will ensure that the strengthened partnership between Thailand and Germany will be able to run smoothly.
In terms of the economy, Mr. Surapong pointed out that Thailand’s consumption-support policy and its reduction of corporate income tax have allowed the Thai economy to grow at a highly satisfactory rate of 6.4 percent in 2012, while still keeping public debt rate at just above 40 percent of GDP. Furthermore, he said, Thailand is planning to invest some 49 billion Euros in transport infrastructure and another nine billion Euros in water management projects. Once completed, investment in the country’s industrial heartlands will be protected from floods.
He added that Asia, especially ASEAN, is now enjoying high growth. And with Asia and Europe working together, the two regions will become an engine of growth that will successfully propel the world economy out of the current difficulties.