BANGKOK – Thailand has vowed to help the Philippines narrow the trade gap between the two countries by encouraging Thai companies to buy more Philippine-made products, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Wednesday.
Lopez said while Thailand is the sixth largest trade partner of the Philippines, the difference between the values of Manila’s exports and imports to Bangkok is huge.
“They have a trade surplus. In other words, the value of their exports is higher than ours. What they will try to do is balance it in terms of, I guess, encouraging many of their companies here to buy Philippine products so we can also increase our exports in Thailand,” the Trade chief told reporters here.
“The Thai prime minister recognized the lopsided balance of trade so he said they would help us,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte is on a three-day official visit here to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in various areas including trade.
During their bilateral meeting, Duterte and Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha agreed to work together to expand two-way trade and investments.
Trade volume between the Philippines and Thailand reached $7.85 billion in 2016. Philippine imports to Thailand totaled $5.89 billion while its exports only amounted to $1.96 billion.
“We have to have products that are competitive,” Lopez said.
“It takes time to narrow the gap but we’ll work towards improving our products so they will be marketable,” he added.
Philippine exports to Thailand include parts and accessories of machines, gear boxes, syringes and agricultural products.
Products being imported by the Philippines from Thailand include vehicles and materials for the manufacture of semiconductor devices.
Lopez and other members of the Philippine delegation held an investment forum here Wednesday to convince Thai businesses to invest in the Philippines.
“We will encourage them to invest in the Philippines and ride on the robust economic growth that we are having. We are doing a lot of reforms in the country so that we can encourage more investments,” he said.
Major Philippine companies operating in Thailand include San Miguel, Monde Nissin, Monexco International Co., Ltd., Thai Liwayway Food Industries Co. and Great Eastern Drug Co.
Major Thai companies that have invested in the Philippines include Eelctricity Generating PLC , Siam Cement Group, Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corp., PTT Thailand Group and Toyo-Thai Corp.