New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore suggested yesterday that Thailand could become a hub of the Greater Mekong Subregion by attracting foreign investors after the implementation of the Asean Economic Community at the end of this year.
The NZ-Asean relationship is very promising. At the end of this year, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will join the Asean leaders’ summit in Kuala Lumpur to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their relationship. The New Zealand government also hopes to discuss trade agreements further. It also wants to hold more talks with the Thai government about trade in additional areas, particularly services such as information technology and education. “Thailand is a very important trade partner for us,” Levermore said. Asean accounts for more than 10 per cent of New Zealand’s exports. Last year, two-way trade grew to US$12.8 billion (Bt322 billion). Thailand at Bt60.37 billion ranks third of the 10 Asean countries after Malaysia and Singapore.
With a strategic location in the region, linking to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and southern China, this is a huge opportunity for Thailand to be like Singapore in the near future, he told a press conference in Bangkok on the 40th anniversary of New Zealand-Asean ties. “However, this opportunity also depends on several factors such as economic growth in each neighbouring country, infrastructure development, investment policy and political stability,” he said.