Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday the government stands ready to go ahead with its Bt2-trillion transportation-infrastructure project as a means to prepare for enhanced Thai-Asean links and liberalised trade with both Asean and non-Asean partners.
Meanwhile, according to the commerce minister, state subsidies for agricultural products will be adjusted to strengthen the sector before the country joins the full Asean economic integration planned for January 1, 2016.
Speaking at a seminar on the "Thai economy's future under the Asean Economic Community (AEC)", Yingluck said the government was ready to move ahead with the transportation project to link Thailand's trade to other Asean countries', and to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in each local area.
Both the state and private sectors would join hands to raise the country's competitiveness before the AEC, she said.
The prime minister said liberalised trade would help increase trade opportunities and competition under the Asean+6 arrangement with non-Asean countries China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. In addition, partner countries and blocs like the 28-country European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will cover other markets including the Americas, helping Asean to attract more trade and investment.
Deputy PM and Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan said Thailand was like a gateway for trade, investment and tourism, given its advantages and the Bt2-trillion infrastructure project, with opportunities for expansion of trade and investment after the AEC takes shape.
Thailand needed to be ready to cope with the region's combined 650 million population and Bt72-Bt73 trillion gross domestic product (GDP), he said. Thailand's current GDP totals Bt12 trillion.
Niwatthumrong believes Thai economic growth will expand considerably after the Asean economic integration.
Following the AEC, pledging schemes and other agricultural-product price interventions are expected to lessen, and the government was attempting to make farmers nationwide understand such issues, he said.
Presently, the government is encouraging farmers to cut some growing areas and turn to sugar cane, which is expected to fetch high prices. Now, about one million rai of growing areas for crops, including rice, have been reduced.