Anwar expected to explore new collaborations during Thailand visit

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s official visit to Thailand starting Thursday (Feb 9) is expected to expand existing cooperation and to explore new collaborations between the two neighbouring countries in the post pandemic economic recovery.

Director at the Centre of Asean Regionalism Universiti Malaya (Carum), Dr Rahul Mishra said Malaysia and Thailand had established bilateral cooperation in various sectors to stimulate growth and development.

"To further deepen cooperation between the two countries, Malaysia and Thailand can explore new areas of cooperation including defence and cross-border infrastructure development.

"With its strong defence forces and capabilities in the region, Malaysia is keen to learn and work with Thailand.

"Working with fellow Asean countries is certainly more productive, beneficial and trustworthy,” he told Bernama.

Rahul said Malaysia and Thailand could also explore collaboration to work towards undertaking cross border infrastructure projects.

He added that Malaysia and Thailand may compete in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector but the two countries also complement each other in cross-border tourism and supply chain.

Malaysia and Thailand have set a bilateral trade target of US$30 billion (RM126 billion) by 2025.

In 2022, Thailand was Malaysia’s 7th largest trading partner globally and the 3rd largest among Asean countries, with total trade amounting to RM122.03 billion (US$27.75 billion), an increase of 17.9 per cent, compared to the recorded value in 2021.

Anwar will undertake his maiden two-day official visit to Thailand starting Thursday, where he will hold a meeting with his Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan o-cha to discuss the way forward in strengthening the multifaceted cooperation between Malaysia and Thailand.

Anwar and Prayuth will witness the exchange of four Memoranda of Understanding in the fields of energy cooperation and digital economy.

This is Anwar’s fourth international official visit after Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore since he was sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister on Nov 24, last year.

Meanwhile, Rahul said Anwar’s visit to Thailand is expected to revitalise peace negotiations in the south, "which he has always been keen on".

He said the new Malaysian chief facilitator Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, would be able to make a breakthrough in the decade long peace process.

"It is not an easy task, however it is a positive sign that the current government is interested in the peace process and keen to work with the Thai government and separatist groups,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior lecturer at the Institute for Peace Studies of Prince of Songkla University, Assistant Prof Dr Srisompob Jitpiromsri said he believes Anwar would play a significant role in the peace process following his expertise and longstanding connection with people in the southern provinces.

"He has strong relationship with the people especially with local leaders including the politicians, religious leaders, Muslim academicians and intellectuals. Therefore, he can bring in more people or groups to help and consolidate the peace process.

"He (Anwar) knows and understands the conflict. Therefore, he can play his role to strengthen the peace dialogue,” he told Bernama.- Bernama

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