Thai Premier visits RP; meeting with PGMA set in Malacanang
Manila (10 November) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and newly-elected Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat are expected to discuss ways on further strengthening bilateral relations between the Philippines and Thailand when both leaders meet in Malacanang on Monday afternoon.
PM Somchai is scheduled to arrive in Manila Monday afternoon for a very brief visit -- seven hours only, as he will arrive at 3 p.m. and will leave at 10 p.m.
It is also expected that the two ASEAN leaders will discuss the current financial crisis and its impact on the region during the bilateral meeting that will be held in Malacanang before the gala dinner the President will tender in honor of the visiting Thai PM.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that the Thai prime minister is coming to Manila "to introduce himself to the President."
Somchai, a brother-in-law of Thaksin, was nominated by Thailand's governing party, the People Power Party, to be the next prime minister last September after a court forced his predecessor, Samak Sanaravej, to step down.
The Public Relations Department of Thailand said that Prime Minister Somchai has planned to officially visit the Philippines "in response to the invitation sent by the Philippines's President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in order to tighten up relations between both countries."
"The PM would also emphasize on the celebration of the 60th anniversary of relationship between Thailand and the Philippines, while discussing over issues including cooperation and improvement in trading, investment, Thailand-Philippines Tourist Package, energy, military, and to personally invite Mrs. Arroyo to participate in the 14th ASEAN Summit this December," it further said.
"Furthermore, Mr. Somchai will also converse with Mrs. Arroyo about the international financial crisis and show appreciation toward the Philippines for hosting the High Level Working Group on Global Financial Crisis Summit which will be held on 15-16 November," it added.
Formal diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Thailand were established with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship in Washington, DC on June 14, 1949.
Since then, both countries have enjoyed very cordial relations and cooperation between them has been wide-ranging. Various bilateral agreements have been concluded, ranging from economic cooperation to extradition to tourism cooperation.
Moreover, Thailand and the Philippines share a distinct partnership as two of the five founding members of ASEAN when it was created in August 1967.
Both countries are likewise considered key movers in other regional fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC). The Philippines was among the pioneering countries in the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) initiative in Thailand. In multilateral fora, the two countries similarly advocate such issues as human rights, civil empowerment, combating transnational crime, and sustainable development.
In 2005, Thailand ranked as the Philippines' tenth largest trading partner, while the Philippines was Thailand's 14th largest. The latest official figures showed that total bilateral trade between the Philippines and Thailand amounted to US$ 2.24 billion in 2005. This represented a decrease of more than six percent from the same period in 2004. Bilateral trade favored Thailand by US$ 353.81 million.
The Philippines sold US$ 941.17 million, or 2.79 percent of its total exports, to Thailand, but this represented a decrease of just below 12 percent from the year before. Philippine exports to Thailand consisted mostly of machineries and transport equipment and parts, electronics, various resource-based commodities, tobacco, processed foods and special transactions. There were marked increases in exports of certain commodities, including greeting cards and stationary, dried vegetables, natural rubber, canned tuna, women's and girls' wear, and petroleum products.
On the other hand, the Philippines imported from Thailand more than US$ 1.30 billion worth of goods or almost 3.5 percent of the country's total imports. Still, this registered a decrease of over two percent from the same period in 2004. Philippine imports from Thailand were mostly machineries and transport equipment and parts, electronics, various resource-based commodities, processed foods, special transactions, and chemicals (particularly petrochemicals). There were significant increases in imports of several items, particularly fresh nuts and fresh coconut products, processed coffee, fresh/chilled/frozen tuna, stone furniture, sauces/condiments/spices/mixes and manufactures, and precious jewelry.
In terms of investments, preliminary projections by the Bank of Thailand showed that the net flow of foreign direct investments (FDI) from the Philippines into Thailand amounted to US$ 183.05 million in 2004.
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) remained the biggest Philippine investor in Thailand. In 2003, the food and beverage giant signed a multi-million dollar agreement with Amata Corporation to put up a 100-hectare production plant for beverage products in the eastern Thai province of Rayong. The plant broke ground in March 2004. (PIA-MMIO) [top]