By CHRIS V PANGANIBAN
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva interacting with visiting journalists
from the Middle East in his office at the Thai Parliament.
Developing stronger economic relations with Qatar and other Gulf
countries is one of the top items on the agenda of Thai Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva and his new administration.
believe we have a lot to offer to the Middle Eastern countries,”
Vejjajiva said during a formal interaction at the Thai parliament
building with visiting journalists from the Gulf region who were on a
media familiarisation trip around Thailand.
prime minister said the Middle East had shown great potential as a
strong market for the export of Thai products. Thailand could also
offer countries in the region food security, particularly with rice and
Halal products, since it had been pushing to produce more of these
under his economic reforms programme.
this global economic downturn, I think our tourism industry and exports
have held up pretty well to address it,” the prime minister remarked.
said his administration wanted to diversify the economy of the country
by focusing more on agriculture so that it could reach more markets,
especially in the Middle East. “Dubai has expressed a lot of interest
for us to go ahead,” Vejjajiva said.
to develop economic partnerships with Islamic countries in trade and
investment are part of the present Thai leadership’s ‘Look East
Policy’. Aside from Halal food and other agricultural products,
Thailand is keen on exporting ready-made garments and electrical and
economic ties with several Muslim countries, especially in the Middle
East, have recently grown significantly, with 56 percent trade growth
worth $37bn last year.
economic officials, however, find this trade still limited and want to
push for more economic reforms in cooperation with Islamic countries.
areas the Thai government wants to promote are medical tourism – which
already draws thousands of Arab visitors to the country – and
investments in Islamic banking, financial services, property
development and the logistics sector.