Tie-up for Africa investment
The government has teamed up with a Japanese firm, Toyota Tsusho Co, to help expand trade and investment in Africa.
The Commerce Ministry’s International Trade Promotion Department yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding in Tokyo with Toyota Tsusho Co, which runs offices in 53 of the 54 African countries.
With its vast network in Africa, Toyota Tsusho will be a valuable ally in increasing Thai trade and investment in the continent, said Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn.
“Africa is a big market with a 1-billion-strong population,” she said. “The region is also a new promising market for Thai investment, while Africa still needs various products ranging from consumer to agriculture goods as domestic production there is yet to be able to meet the ample demand.”
According to Mrs Apiradi, the government expects rice to become the first commodity to be promoted under the partnership with Toyota Tsusho.
Currently, Thailand exports about 4-5 million tonnes of rice a year to Africa, accounting for 50% of total imports.
Last year, Thailand posted a US$4.2 billion surplus in its $8 billion two-way trade with Africa.
“There are profitable opportunities to provide goods ranging from consumer to agricultural products,” Mrs Apiradi said. “Other industries with great trade potential include rubber, fish and sea products, electrical and electronic equipment, automotive parts and raw materials for construction.”
Jeremy Zwinger, chief executive of the Rice Trader, said at the “World Rice Trade Outlook” seminar of Thailand Rice Convention 2017, held in Bangkok last week, that Africa is expected to see a strong increase in rice purchase orders this year from China and the Philippines.
Higher global rice demand is also expected to help raise the global rice price by US$20 (682 baht) a tonne over the next three months.
The Thai government now controls 4.32 million tonnes of state rice stocks and aims to dispose all of it by September this year, given the rising rice demand.