BANGKOK: Thailand is preparing to set up a coordination council with Saudi Arabia to boost newly restored relations, including in trade and investment, a top official from the Thai Ministry of Commerce said on Friday.

Ties between the two kingdoms stalled in the 1980s and were renewed in late January, following Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Riyadh, which was the first top leadership meeting between the two countries in more than three decades.

During the visit, the Kingdom and Thailand discussed a road map for their bilateral relations.

The Southeast Asian nation’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai said last month that the road map would be made official during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The crown prince has been invited as a special guest by the Thai leadership to attend the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok on Nov. 18-19.

The coordination council to implement the relationship road map is expected to be established during the visit, Umaporn Futrakul, director of the Bureau of Asia, Africa and Middle East of the Department of Trade Negotiations at the Thai Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.

“When the crown prince visits, there will be an announcement on the details of the coordination council,” she said.

“The coordination council will consist of committees, and one of those will be trade and economy which, it has been agreed, the ministries of commerce from both sides will co-chair.”

Since the restoration of bilateral ties, many agreements and official visits have already followed. The two governments have also signed a series of cooperation deals and the volume of trade between them has already significantly increased.

Between February and September 2022, bilateral trade volume between Thailand and Saudi Arabia reached $7.2 billion, compared with $4.5 billion in the same period last year, according to Ministry of Commerce data.

In the same timeframe, Thai exports to Saudi Arabia were $1.3 billion, up 23 percent, while imports were $5.9 billion, posting an increase of more than 72 percent.

“The resumption of ties has made the relationship better in the big picture,” Futrakul said.

“After the two sides started their interaction and resumed their ties in different dimensions, it led to more visits from top executives from both sides than before … these frequent visits lead to more trade and investment.”

The top Thai exports to Saudi Arabia in 2022 were automobiles, spare parts, accessories, as well as wood products, household appliances, electric devices and processed seafood.

The key imports from Saudi Arabia were crude oil, fertilizers, natural gas and metal products.

A further boost in trade is expected soon as the cooperation council will come with frameworks to advance economic relations on both ends.

“A mechanism will be established as a basis for discussing the ways of promoting trade and investment,” Futrakul said. “Having a platform will make a lot of things happen.”

Three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on strengthening relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia will be signed during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, deputy government spokesman Rachada Dhnadirek said on Tuesday.

The three MoUs will be signed by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, during his official visit to Thailand for the Nov 18-19 summit.

Ms Rachada said the cabinet gave the green light to all three MoU drafts.

The first MoU will see Thailand aim to cooperate with Saudi Arabia in political affairs and security issues, such as waiving visa checks for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports and finding a potential location for the establishment of a Saudi embassy in Bangkok.

Thailand will also provide economic support in the energy sector and focus on the export of products including construction materials, petrochemicals, food and retail products, as well as exchange investment information and labour recruitment agreements, she said.

Both sides will also expedite the appointment of ambassadors from each country to restore bilateral relations including cultural exchanges and sports collaboration.

Ms Rachada said the second MoU seeks to create an understanding on the establishment of a cooperation council which will be chaired by the foreign affairs ministers of both countries.

The council will try to cooperate on all relevant aspects including the formation of a working panel and the issuance of regulations aimed at not interfering with the rights of each country.

The third MoU will strengthen investment opportunities through the exchange of information about investment, business openings and relevant laws, she said.

Ms Rachada said both sides would implement the necessary measures to provide investors with sufficient protection as stipulated in the agreement, which each of them to be responsible for their own expenses when proceeding with the MoUs.

Ties between the two kingdoms stalled during the 1980s and were renewed in late January this year following Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Riyadh.

During the visit, Gen Prayut and Thai officials with their counterparts discussed a roadmap for bilateral relations.

RIYADH: Sathai Global, a newly formed Thai startup, looks to spearhead the strengthening of business ties between Saudi Arabia and Thailand, as both countries resumed their full diplomatic ties earlier this year.

Talking to Arab News on the sidelines of the First Investment Initiative in Riyadh, the company’s Managing Partner Sutima Sucharitakul said she wants Thai investors to invest in Saudi Arabia and vice versa.

“We are a company called Sathai Global. We. as a startup, facilitate business between Thailand and Saudi Arabia.”

Being very new in the market, Sucharitakul noted that Thailand wishes to expand its trade relations with countries like Saudi Arabia.

“It is a very new market in Thailand. We do not have any relationship or any knowledge about other countries. I’m very excited to be here and exploiting the opportunities,” she added.

In August, the Federation of Saudi Chambers announced the formation of a joint business council during the Saudi-Thai Business Forum that saw over 350 senior officials and business owners from the two countries participate to advance economic relations, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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