News 282 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Japan now Thailand's biggest export market

Thanks to tariff cuts under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA), effective since November 2007), Japan has topped the US as Thailand's largest export destination. Exports total US $28.96 billion in the period January to July 2008. This is 18% up compared to the same period in 2007.

The biggest risers in export volumes are natural rubber, shrimps and prawns, animal feed, and lenses according to Makoto Shiota, deputy director general for international regional policy of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. However, while bilateral trade between the two countries have accelerated, Japanese investments in Thailand have shrunk, says Japan Chamber of Commerce (JCC) in Bangkok president Fukujiro Yamabe, citing the global economic slowdown, triggered by the US financial crisis, as the main factor.

Sustainable shrimps 
As shrimps are one of the major export products, the Thai government wants to encourage farmers to produce more and in a sustainable way. "Under the new quality development roadmap 2009-11 we want to combine sustainable industrial development. This would help to improve the industry's negative image as having destroyed mangroves over the past two decades" said Thanwaa Jitsanguan, Katsaterart University vice-president special projects.

Niwat Suteemechaikul, director-general of the Thai Fisheries Department, said a more hygienic production and a "green" concept would be strong points the industry could use to promote its products abroad, given the growing concern about food safety.

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