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INTERVIEW/New Thai envoy pitches for more Taiwanese investment in Thailand

03/13/2024 04:22 PM
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Executive Director of the Thailand Trade and Economic Office Narong Boonsatheanwong. CNA photo March 12, 2024
Executive Director of the Thailand Trade and Economic Office Narong Boonsatheanwong. CNA photo March 12, 2024

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) The new Thai representative to Taiwan on Tuesday said his country was open to more Taiwanese investment, particularly in the realms of electronic manufacturing and construction projects.

"Thailand is ready," Narong Boonsatheanwong, executive director of the Thailand Trade and Economic Office (TTEO), told CNA during a Tuesday interview.

The country is a Southeast Asian electronics manufacturing powerhouse, the executive director said, adding that Thailand's printed circuit board (PCB) output has in recent years been gaining global attention.

Taiwan, meanwhile, is known around the world for its leadership in the semiconductor industry, according to Boonsatheanwong.

He also praised Taiwan for its ongoing push for clean energy, a green economy, and digital transformation.

He said that both economies can benefit in the long term if they collaborate in these areas.

The envoy also noted his government's ongoing push for a large-scale "Land Bridge" development project in southern Thailand.

The project in southern Thailand aims to shorten the navigation time between the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to Boonsatheanwong.

"There are many Taiwanese shipping companies that have experience in similar projects overseas. So, we hope to deepen our cooperation with Taiwan and create a win-win situation," he said.

Thailand is also currently preparing to expand its number of projects relating to construction and circuit board manufacturing.

The envoy said that Thailand is a key target of Taiwan's New Southbound Policy and is known for its electronics manufacturing cluster, while Taiwan has a comprehensive talent cultivation system.

"Deepening bilateral cooperation could not only expand the share of both economies in the global market but also help the world see just how competitive Taiwan and Thailand are," he said, adding these are his main goals for his Taipei tenure.

The New Southbound Policy, which seeks to reduce Taiwan's economic dependence on China, was launched after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.

It seeks to expand Taiwan's exchanges on all fronts with the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan.

Mistaking Taiwan for Thailand

Boonsatheanwong, former deputy director-general of Thailand's Department of Consular Affairs, took up his post at TTEO -- the defacto Thai embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties -- on Feb. 11. He has also been posted in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Regarding cultural and people-to-people exchanges, the envoy joked that people have mistaken Taiwan for Thailand for a long time.

"But maybe it actually just reaffirms the two of us are destined to have close connections," he added.

The TTEO head noted that about 80,000 Thai people live in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Thailand is one of the hottest tourist destinations for Taiwanese tourists, with nationals making 750,000 visits to the Southeast Asian country last year.

Taiwanese people are generally regarded by Thai people as "premium travelers," and are highly welcome, according to the envoy.

He also thanked Taiwanese society for taking care of Thai nationals in Taiwan, particularly Thai workers.

Strong people-to-people ties are the main reason the two sides can succeed in achieving a sustainable mutually beneficial and cooperative relationship, Boonsatheanwong said.

(By Wu Sheng-hung and Joseph Yeh)


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