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Thailand, Vietnam pledge to boost bilateral trade

The second joint Cabinet meeting between Thailand and Vietnam in Hanoi on Saturday agreed to achieve total bilateral trade worth US$18 billion (540 billion baht) in 2015, an increase of 20 percent annually over the next three years.

The governments also signed three cooperation documents — a joint statement between the Thai and Vietnamese foreign ministers, the Thailand-Vietnam Security Outlook (2012-2016), and a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of the Thai-Vietnamese Business Council.

In 2011, bilateral trade between the two nations was worth US$9.08 billion (277 billion baht). Exports from Thailand were valued at US$7.05 billion, while imports from Vietnam amounted to US$2.03 billion.

Yingluck Shinawatra was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silapa-archa, Prime Minister's Office Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Defense Minister Air Chief Marshal Sukampol Suwannathat, Social Development and Human Security Minister Santi Promphat and Labor Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap.

This was the second joint cabinet session between the two countries following the first one held in Danang in 2004 under the Thaksin Shinawatra administration.

After the opening speeches at 9:30 a.m., Yingluck and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung held bilateral talks about the possibility of upgrading Thai-Vietnamese relations into a strategic partnership as well as on other issues, including food, energy, agriculture, ASEAN unity, handling economic crises and natural disasters.

They agreed that there should be more cooperation channels, not only bilateral or multi-party ones, but also at the ASEAN and international levels.

They also agreed to set up joint committees to push forward the strategies and agreed there should be more bilateral or multi-party talks on rice trading. Thailand also welcomed Vietnam's acceptance to join the triparty meeting on rubber trade that Thailand will be hosting in December. Vietnam supported Thailand's role in ASEAN and in solving the South China Sea dispute.

Cabinet members of the two countries were divided into three groups to discuss political security, economic, sociocultural and education issues. Sukampol led the Thai team in the first group, Kittiratt led the second group and Chumpol led the third group.

Yingluck said she thanked the Vietnamese prime minister and Cabinet members for pushing forward cooperation.

“I took this opportunity to move forward rice and rubber cooperation with Vietnam in order to jointly coordinate on stabilization of rice and rubber prices, which is beneficial to both sides,” she said at a press conference following the joint meeting.

Yingluck invited the Vietnamese prime minister to Thailand at his convenience to expand on what was discussed. She and her team left for Thailand in the evening.

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