|Opening ceremony of Mini Thailand Week 2020 in Can Tho (July 3-5)|
Suparporn Sookmark, Consul (Commercial)/Director of Thai Trade Center – Ho Chi Minh City, said that the target of reaching a bilateral trade value of US$20 billion by 2020 has become a challenging one because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She noted that trade volume between the two countries decreased 3.4 percent year-on-year in 2019 and 12 percent in the first four months of 2020.
"Due to the global Covid-19 outbreak, it's a challenge for both countries to accomplish the target of US$20 billion for bilateral trade at the end of this year," she said, adding that low demand, lack of raw materials for production and trade logistics were part of the problems.
According to the Department of Foreign Trade of Thailand, despite measures taken to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, the value of Thailand's border trade in the first quarter of this year (Q1/2020) dropped 7.64 percent from the previous quarter to US$8.2 billion, and that of Thailand-Vietnam cross-border trade fell 27.86 percent to US$423 million.
However, the two countries will exert maximum joint efforts to support businesses in overcoming difficulties and rising again in the "new normal" period, Sookmark said.
"The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Chairmanship will bring Vietnam great opportunities to boost multilateral trade with other ASEAN countries and strengthen partnerships for peace and sustainable development in the region.
"Vietnam and Thailand have been making efforts through intensified exchange of delegations at all levels, MoU signing, business networking arrangements and in-store promotions.
"Apart from these activities, Thai trade fairs such as Top Thai Brands and Mini Thailand Week have been organized in Vietnam for many years as testimony to the Thai government's continuous commitment to enhancing bilateral relations and promoting trade between the two countries."
She said that as a strategic partner, Thailand always supports Vietnam in moving forward together for mutual progress and prosperity. The Thai government encourages Vietnamese companies to exhibit their products at international trade fairs in Bangkok, and provided 10 complimentary booths for Vietnamese exhibitors at the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair, STYLE Bangkok Fair and THAIFEX-Anuga Asia, she said.
In addition, the Thai private sector has organized trade fairs to enhance trade relations between the two countries and promote Vietnamese products in Thailand.
The Central Group regularly organizes the Vietnamese Goods Fair in Bangkok. MM Mega Market cooperated with Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Industry and Trade to organize a trade show of Vietnamese goods in Bangkok last October.
The MM Mega Market has exported Vietnamese agricultural products to Thailand and other countries, she said. Strong ASEAN partner
According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, Thailand was Vietnam's largest ASEAN trade partner with bilateral trade worth nearly US$17 billion in 2019, Sookmark said, adding that over the last five years, the two countries have been experiencing an average 12.1 percent annual increase in bilateral trade.
She said Thai products were greatly favored by Vietnamese customers due to their good quality and safety standards. Thai food, beverages and fresh fruits were popular in particular, she said, adding that the most popular Thai goods imported by Vietnam included consumer electronic products, food and beverage and fresh fruits (mango, mangosteen, tamarind, langsat, and durian).
On the other side, "Vietnamese products such as fresh fruits, coffee, cashews, and seasoning are becoming more popular among Thai consumers," she said.
Reaching out further
The Thai Trade Center (TTC), a government organization under the Ministry of Commerce's Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), is going beyond promotional events in big cities to reach out to second-tier cities like Can Tho and Hai Phong, Sookmark said.
The "Mini Thailand Week" was one such event, she added.
In addition, the TTC organizes business matching events for Thai-Vietnamese entrepreneurs like the Thailand HORECA B2B in Da Nang, Supply Chain B2B in Ho Chi Minh City, and missions to Vietnam by Thai delegations led by the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand.
"We have helped Vietnamese companies who wish to source Thai products conduct market surveys and meet with Thai suppliers in Thailand, arranging site visits to fruit farms and business matching arrangements for Vietnamese retail chains and Thai suppliers in Thailand," Sookmark said.
Furthermore, the TTC has cooperated with Thai-Vietnamese enterprises to arrange in-store promotion programs in shopping malls and convenient stores including the Crescent Mall, Circle K and B's mart.
The TTC also supports Vietnamese businesses in sourcing products at international trade fairs in Thailand like the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair, THAIFEX-Anuga Asia, TILOG-Logistix, STYLE Bangkok Fair, TAPA, Bangkok RHVAC and Bangkok E&E.
"We aim to create a great platform for both Thai and Vietnamese enterprises to expand their networks and further develop strategic partnerships. Both distributors and consumers will have a chance to explore extensive range of Thai products with internationally recognized brands in Vietnam", Sookmark said.
According to the Thai Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Thai businesses have invested almost US$11 billion in the Vietnamese market, making Thailand one of Vietnam's top 10 foreign investors.
A representative of the Thai Business Association (TBA) in Vietnam noted that Thai direct investment in Vietnam was US$1.134 billion in 2019, a tremendous surge from just US$267 million in 2015.
More than 200 Thai companies are doing business in Vietnam in different sectors. In addition to investments in processing and manufacturing, industrial zone infrastructure, retail, Thai companies have entered Vietnam's renewable energy sector in a big way.
Many Thai businesses in Vietnam expect more Thai companies to make new investments and increase existing ones through several modes including mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
The Super Energy Corporation Public Company Limited has confirmed that it will invest another US$457 million in Vietnam in three solar power plants in southern Vietnam's Binh Phuoc Province.
The B.Grimm Power Public Company Limited is also studying additional investments in Vietnam, especially in wind farms and LNG-to-Power projects.
The Srithai Superware Public Company Limited announced recently that it will invest 450 million baht this year in Vietnam.
A long-standing Thai investor in the country, CP Vietnam, has said it will continually expand its business here, emphasizing the country's growth trajectory and potential.
Meanwhile, the Thai Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City said that there were ample business opportunities for Vietnamese firms in Thailand, noting that Vietjet has already invested in the country with the Thai Vietjet Air JSC.
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