Business ties between China and Thailand will be bolstered by the growth of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, as well as their complementary trade in goods, according to market watchers and business leaders.
With the two countries making substantial progress in big-ticket projects — including the China-Thailand Railway, and a number of manufacturing and energy programs — they said that their business relations will create vitality and stability to ensure stable supply chains across the Asia-Pacific region and the world in the coming years.
Benefiting from closer business ties and the RCEP pact, China-Thailand trade grew by 5.1 percent year-on-year to $102 billion between January and September, data from China's General Administration of Customs show.
The RCEP, the world's largest free trade deal, covers 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its five free-trade agreement partners: China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The implementation of this agreement will not only bring tax cuts to Thai exporters, but also encourage Chinese manufacturers to ship more goods to Thailand, said Hong Junjie, vice-president of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
Besides agricultural products, Thailand's exports to China include rubber, chemicals, raw materials for plastic goods, data storage devices, automotive parts, integrated circuits, refined oil and rubber-made medical items, according to customs statistics.
China ships mainly computers, telecommunication equipment, trains, diesel oil, steel, lighting products, medical equipment, textiles and household appliances to Thailand. Its passenger vehicles and trucks have also become popular in the Southeast Asian country in recent years.
"With both countries pursuing green, high-quality and innovation-led growth, the two-way investment cooperation has expanded from sectors such as agriculture, energy, finance, infrastructure and manufacturing to other fast-growing areas," said Bai Ming, deputy director of international market research at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
He said these areas include trade in services, the production of electric vehicles, 5G, big data and cloud computing, with scientific and technological innovation acting as a driving force.
For instance, Chinese carmaker BYD announced in September that it will build a plant in Thailand. After its completion in 2024, vehicles manufactured from this factory will be sold in the country and exported to other Southeast Asian economies.
"Thailand has a solid base in the automotive industry with mature manufacturing capabilities so we chose to build a factory here after careful deliberation," said Liu Xueliang, general manager of BYD Asia-Pacific Auto Sales Division.
As China has created more favorable conditions for global companies to grow their businesses in its vast market, Saravoot Yoovidhya, CEO of TCP Group, a Thai beverage company, said his company will expand its market presence in the country.
Eager to secure more market share in China's western region, the Thai company invested 2 billion yuan ($283 million) to build a new production base in Sichuan province in late March.