High-level Thai business delegation to visit Saudi Arabia on February 26andthe first in many years to promote trade and business between the two countries.
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade, said the delegation would visit Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and Neom.
The delegation will meet with Saudi counterparts and the government sector for discussions on expanding trade between Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
Last year, Thailand exported $1.6 billion worth of goods to Saudi Arabia, accounting for just 0.2 percent of Thailand’s total exports, Sanan said, as he expressed concern. It was hoped that Thai exports to the oil-rich Arab kingdom would reach $5 billion, which was the level recorded in 1989 when relations between the two countries were still normal.
Sanan said Thai products with market potential in Saudi Arabia include cars, auto accessories, fresh and processed foods, machinery and electrical appliances.
Ronnarong Phoolpipat, director of the Office of Trade Policy and Strategy at the Ministry of Commerce, said the improvement in relations between the two countries, following Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Riyadh on January 26andand 27andthe first by a Thai Prime Minister in over three decades, will open up opportunities for Thai labour, investment, tourism and trade.
Bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to reach 280 billion baht this year, an expansion of about 20.3%, with exports fixed increase to about 54 billion baht, an expansion of 6.2%, against 225 billion baht of imports, which are mainly oil and gas. This is an increase of 24.3%, resulting in a trade deficit of 171 billion baht.
Saudi Arabia’s economy is the second largest in the Middle East, after Turkey’s.
Relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia deteriorated over 30 years ago and diplomatic relations soured after a Thai worker stole jewelry, including a precious blue diamond, from a Saudi palace and the murder of three Saudi diplomats and a businessman in Thailand. Several of the stolen jewels sent back to Riyadh turned out to be counterfeits, but the Blue Diamond was never found.