BANGKOK: Thai political and business figures have urged Asian countries to join hands to fight against rising trade protectionism as a way to make Asia thrive.
“The current anti-globalisation trends, anti-free trade movements have jittered people around the world. Thailand is also affected,” Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Tuesday at a business matching function held in Bangkok.
The deputy prime minister in charge of Thailand’s economy said Asian countries should come together in unity, deepen cooperation and communication to make Asia stronger amid uncertainties.
Regarding the current trade tensions between China and the United States, Thai Deputy Minister of Commerce Chutima Bunyapraphasara said that “a country’s unilateral coercive measures must affect others. Carrying out these measures must ignite disputes and hurt benefits of all. We hope they can find solutions through negotiations”.
The US administration has imposed additional tariffs on Chinese goods exported to the United States, impeding two-way trade and investment cooperation and undermining market confidence and economic stability.
Chutima said there would be no winners in the trade dispute.
She said Beijing and Washington should seek solutions via the WTO dispute settlement mechanism as both countries are WTO members.
She said Asian countries should stand together to seek ways to boost trade and economy amid uncertainty.
Chutima appreciated China’s determination to promote free trade.
She hoped the negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be concluded soon to create a new free trade platform.
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office of Thailand, said the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies is disrupting global production chains where many regional countries are integral players.
He said many Thai products are exported to China for further processing before going to the United States.
Thailand and Asean are supporters of free trade.
As China firmly supports free trade, Thailand supports China’s effort, said Kanit.
Kanit remained confident on the outlook of China’s economy and the cooperation between China and Thailand.
He said China’s economic growth is still rapid and Thailand is enjoying a reasonable growth pace, adding that the future of cooperation is promising.
Thailand recently launched a 5G test bed of Huawei Technologies, China’s technology giant and the world’s top producer of telecoms equipment, in the heart of the country’s US$45bil (RM187.1bil) EEC project.
The EEC project is a centerpiece of the Thai government to boost growth and target investment into hi-tech industries.
Kanit said 5G is necessary for targeted industries in the EEC, including automation and robotics.
Thailand has worked with Huawei smoothly for many years, the secretary-general said.
Li Guixiong, chairman of the Thai Young Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said the trade friction provoked by Washington damages the interests of both China and the United States, and the world at large.
Li said the adverse economic effects of the trade dispute abound.
He wished the United States will address the trade dispute through dialogue and consultation with China. — Xinhua