Thailand to build on thriving trade relations with SA

With bilateral trade between Thailand and South Africa at its highest levels in 20 years, Thailand is set to boost its trade relations with South Africa yet further, with a trade show in Johannesburg this week.

Dr. Chakarin Komolsiri, the Head of the Office of Commercial Affairs at the Royal Thai Embassy in South Africa, says in 2012 bilateral trade grew to USD 5.256 billion, over the USD 3.5 billion of 2011.

This, he says, represents the highest level of two-way trade that the nations have experienced in their 20-year relationship.

To mark the 20th anniversary of established trade and diplomatic relations between South Africa and Thailand, delegations from key industry verticals are currently in South Africa in to seek new business partnerships with South African enterprises.

The Thailand Trade Show 2013, hosted by Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) and Ministry of Commerce, and the Royal Thai Government, was staged in Cape Town last week, and takes place from today until 27 June at the Sandton Convention Centre.

This follows a visit to Thailand late last year by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who met Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul for talks on increased economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries. They noted that South Africa ranks as Thailand’s No. 1 trading partner in the African continent, while Thailand ranks as South Africa’s No. 1 trading partner in the Southeast Asian region. The South African delegation extended an invitation for Thai businessmen to invest in South Africa, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, mining and telecommunications.

Dr Komolsiri notes that Thai exports to South Africa topped USD 2.827 billion last year (29.97% up from 2011), with Thailand South Africa’s 10th largest supplier, while SA exports to Thailand totalled USD 2.428 billion last year (176.587% up from 2011). Last year, Thailand was South Africa’s 23rd largest destination for its products. Thailand is also the established gateway to the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region, which includes 10 countries and will in 2015 become a common economic zone, with 600 million people and a combined GDP of USD 1.1-trillion.

Key Thailand – SA trade areas are raw materials, parts and accessories; food and beverage and health and beauty products. In 2012, Thai exports of vehicles, parts and accessories to SA were worth USD 334.55 million, electrical machinery imports topped USD 22.09 million and mineral fuel and oil topped USD 146.01 million. In addition, rapid growth has taken place in imports of rubber, plastic, iron and steel products, base metal and organic chemicals.

In the food and beverage sector, SA imported USD 126.46 million in cereals, and USD 111.22 in prepared meat and fish, among others.

At the Thailand Trade Show in Johannesburg, Thailand’s trade delegations will seek new opportunities in the food and beverage; automotive; household and kitchenware products; health; beauty; accessories, and fashion industries, among others.

According to the DITP, Thailand has enjoyed rapid economic development over the past two decades and diversity has become an essential ingredient of Thai exports, with an emphasis on one-stop sourcing of raw materials in Thailand’s various regions. These quality raw materials exports have resulted in the growth of a market exporting a variety of value-added products, including processed and frozen food, agricultural products, electronics, electrical appliances, furniture, fashion garments and textiles, and auto parts and accessories. Thailand has invested heavily in advanced technology and research to continually improve the quality of its exports and services. Boasting a skilled workforce, competitively-priced products and an advanced infrastructure, Thailand is actively seeking growth in the SA and pan-African markets.

The Thailand Expo 2013 will offer opportunities for traders, importers, buyers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, exporters and entrepreneurs to assess potential trade opportunities and seek partnerships with their Thai counterparts. For more information on the Thailand Expo 2013, visit The public is welcome to attend on 27 June.

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