Turkey is taking steps to improve economic cooperation with Thailand, which it has included among its target countries within the scope of the "Distant Countries Strategy". Countries that see bilateral trade, which increased by 18 percent to more than $ 2.2 billion in 2022, below its potential, want to conclude the long-standing FTA negotiations this year. In this context, a delegation of the Ministry of Commerce is expected to go to Bangkok in March. Foreign Economic Relations (DEIK) Turkey-Thailand Business Council has also increased its initiatives for the development of trade relations. Countries that want to develop mutual investments plan to increase their trade volumes to over $ 3 billion in the first place, while they want to catch up with the potential $ 5 billion in the short term.
At the Joint Economic Commission (KEK) meeting held in Ankara last week, the views on the completion of the FTA preparations with Thailand within this year were once again emphasized. At the Turkey-Thailand meeting hosted by the Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries. Following the memorandum signed between Minister Varank and Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, a cooperation protocol was signed between the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the International Cooperation Agency of Thailand (TICA).
Cemil Çakar, Honorary Trade Advisor of the Royal Thai Government and Vice President of DEİK/Turkey-Thailand Business Council, who informed EKONOMİ Newspaper about trade relations with Thailand, stated that the trade relations of the two countries are improving every year. Stating that the trade volume between Turkey and Thailand increased by approximately 18 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year and exceeded the level of 2.2 billion dollars for the first time, Çakar said, "Thailand is a strategic partner in South East Asia, where we will carry our relations in every field, especially the economy, to much further points. With this protocol signed, necessary steps have been taken to deepen our relations between Turkey and Thailand in areas such as mutual investments, science and technology, electric vehicles, battery technologies, game development, regional development, SMEs, as well as renewable energy, halal accreditation, education, agriculture, health, tourism, transportation and logistics."
FTA meeting to be held in March
Noting that despite the increase in trade volume with Thailand, the real potential has not yet been reflected, Çakar said: "Both countries are determined to facilitate the mutual investments of their companies and to support bilateral trade. In this direction, important progress has been made in the long-running FTA negotiations. In March, a technical delegation from the Ministry of Commerce will travel to Bangkok for FTA talks. We want the agreement to be signed this year."
Turkish companies grow in Asian market with Thai investments
Pointing out that there are Turkish companies that have significant investments in Thailand and use the country as a regional hub, DEİK Turkey-Thailand Business Council Vice President Cemil Çakar said, "We have companies that add value to the Thai economy with their production, export and employment. Our leading companies such as Arçelik, Kordsa, Hidromek, Farplas and Hayat Kimya are located there. In fact, Arçelik's activity in Asian markets thanks to its investment in Thailand attracted the attention of the Japanese company Hitachi. Arçelik partnered with Hitachi as the major shareholder of the household goods division and achieved a much more effective market share in the region."
We have a deficit in imports
Turkey is a net importer in its foreign trade with Thailand. In 2020 and 2021, Turkey's exports to Thailand amounted to $184 and $236 million, respectively, while its imports amounted to $1.2 and $1.6 billion. Thus, the foreign trade volume increased to $ 1.9 billion in 2021. In the period between December 2021 and November 2022, Turkey's exports to Thailand amounted to $282 million, while its imports rose to $1.9 billion. Thus, the foreign trade deficit reached 1.6 billion dollars.