KUCHING: The Sarawak government may open a trade office in Thailand, if there is sufficient trade volume to do so, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said the state had already set up a trade and tourism office in Singapore, with two more in the pipeline in Pontianak, Kalimantan, and Brunei.
"We may have a trade office in Bangkok if the volume of trade improves between Thailand and Sarawak.
"The time may come, depending on the volume of business, but not now. If the volume is big and if the Thais put up an office here, we may reciprocate," he told reporters after opening a Thailand-Sarawak trade forum here on Friday (Aug 23).
Abang Johari said Pontianak would be next location for Sarawak's trade office after Singapore, to be followed by Brunei.
He said the state was in negotiations on the setting up of the offices, which would be done within the next two years.
Sarawak's trade office in Singapore, which was officially launched on Aug 17, is expected to boost the state's trade with the island republic by 30%.
In his speech earlier, Abang Johari said Sarawak was keen to explore collaborations with Thailand in various sectors, including agriculture, and oil and gas.
He also said there were opportunities for collaboration beyond Sarawak in BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area).
"The BIMP-EAGA area is rich in resources, just like Sarawak. What we need now is technology as well as research and development to be undertaken in order to add value to our comparative advantage in resources.
"With this collaboration, there is room for us to develop this sector and explore the market within BIMP-EAGA," Abang Johari said.
Thai Ambassador to Malaysia, Narong Sasitorn, said there was potential for business links between BIMP-EAGA and mainland
South-East Asia, in which Thailand and Sarawak could play an important role.
"For this reason, the Thai government will support every effort to promote close ties and contact between Thailand and Sarawak.
"It is certainly to our mutual benefit," he said.