Thailand and Panama have set a target to increase bilateral trade to 10 billion baht after a decline in recent years.
The move was announced after a meeting yesterday between Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit and Itzel Karina Chen Chan, Panama’s ambassador to Thailand.
In 2017, bilateral trade value decreased to 7.5 billion baht and continued to fall to 6 billion in 2018 and 4 billion in 2019.
“The two countries will jointly increase bilateral trade. Thailand also expects Panama will become a gateway to central and upper South America and Mexico,” said Mr Jurin.
Important export products from Thailand include cars, auto parts, seafood, canned food, and electrical appliances such as washing machines and TVs.
Somdet Susomboon, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said Thai exports to Panama were previously valued at more than 10 billion baht, but after automotive production was relocated away from Panama, Thailand lost this market for auto parts.
Thailand expects to export more rice to Panama, which is the 17th largest rice consumer in the world. Some 40% of rice in Panama is imported from the US, followed by 36% from Brazil. Only 1% of rice is imported from Thailand.
Mr Jurin said Panama has high potential as a market, with income per person roughly double that of Thailand.
Products related to contagion protection such as rubber gloves and face masks are also potential exports to Panama.
Panama depends on products imported from many countries, including those in Asean. Thailand is the third largest exporter to Panama, after Singapore and Vietnam.