BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai authorities on Tuesday proposed a plan for bilateral cooperation to bolster the country’s recently restored relationship with Saudi Arabia, a government spokesman said, as a high-level investment delegation from Riyadh arrived in Bangkok.
A Saudi delegation of 150 representatives of public and private companies led by Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih participated Monday in the Thai-Saudi Investment Forum organized in Bangkok by the Thai government.
A similar forum was organized by the Saudi authorities in Riyadh in May, following the resumption of bilateral relations earlier this year. “Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has proposed a draft plan to strengthen bilateral relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia from 2022 to 2024. The plan has been submitted to the Cabinet and the Cabinet has approved it” , Thai government deputy spokesman Ratchada Thanadirek said. at a press conference.
“Mobilization to strengthen the relationship between Thailand and Saudi Arabia has been taking place since the Prime Minister of Thailand paid an official state visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
“There have been cooperative mobilizations in trade, investment and the export of Thai labor to Saudi Arabia. This is happening continuously.
She added that the cooperation plan would be signed with Saudi Arabia during a planned visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this month.
The Crown Prince has been invited as a special guest by Thai leaders to attend the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok on November 18-19.
“The two nations will sign a memorandum of understanding between the government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the establishment of the Saudi-Thai Coordination Council,” Thanadirek added.
“It will be a structure for coordination, consultation and discussion on matters of interest to both Thailand and Saudi Arabia.”
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand stagnated in the 1980s and were revived in late January, following the visit of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to Riyadh at the invitation of the crown prince.
It was the first high-level meeting between the two kingdoms in more than three decades.
Since the re-establishment of ties, numerous agreements and official visits have taken place. The two governments have also signed a series of cooperation agreements.
The current plan to strengthen relations covers the areas of politics, security, visa procedures, as well as energy cooperation, exports of petrochemicals, food, construction and consumer products, and cooperation in electronic sports. and sports tourism.
“These will be very beneficial for Thai business owners,” Thanadirek said.
Visit Limlurcha, vice president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, who attended the Thai-Saudi Investment Forum on Monday, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia’s dependence on food imports offers opportunities for Thai producers.
Although Saudi Arabia is one of the most food secure countries in the world, it is highly dependent on imports, through which it meets around 80% of its food needs.
“Food is one of the main goods imported by Saudi Arabia. They really focus on importing food,” said Limlurcha, who is also the chairman of Thailand’s Processed Food and Future Food Committee.
“We have a lot of food items apart from halal food which can meet the needs of Saudi Arabia.”
He saw export potential also in other sectors such as auto parts, cosmetics and jewelry.
The investment that Saudi Arabia could attract from Thailand, which has longstanding expertise in promoting tourism, is in the hospitality sector.
“The industry that Saudi Arabia wants Thailand to invest more in is tourism and hospitality. Saudi Arabia has tried to open up its country and wants more people to visit,” Limlurcha said.
Monday’s forum, he added, gave Thai businessmen the opportunity to do business matchmaking with their Saudi partners.
He said, “The atmosphere at yesterday’s forum was lively.
“The resumption of relations will provide great opportunities for businessmen in Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has many businessmen willing to invest.
“The state of relations before made it difficult to trade, but now opportunities are knocking at our door,” he added.