On this day, while Thai people commemorate the passing away of our beloved late King Bhumibol Adulyadej last year, we also celebrate our national day with great pride and joy as we cherish his lifelong work to improve the welfare of the Thai people.
His tireless dedication during a reign of over 70 years will always remain in our hearts. The philosophy of “Sufficiency Economy” he bestowed on the Thai people has become the guiding philosophy for our country’s development strategies and policies to promote human development and ensure sound foundations for sustainable economic growth.
Recognising his role in sustainable development, the 68th UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that designates December 5 as World Soil Day, aiming to promote and raise awareness of the importance of soil as a crucial factor in agricultural development, nutrition and food security while addressing the challenges of rapid population growth.
At present, under the reign of King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, the Thai people will continue carrying forward the virtues of the late King for the future of our country and people. We continue to honour our revered monarch and the monarchy, which is a significant pillar and a unifying force of the country.
In recent years, the Royal Thai Government has implemented a series of policies aiming to reform the country, particularly in economic and social development, towards meeting the needs and aspirations of the Thai people. These include the National Reform Plan, Thailand 4.0, Eastern Economic Corridor Development and the 20-year national development strategy.
Moreover, on July 26, the National Strategic Plan Act 2017 was enacted to be the guideline for the country’s economic and social development with the goals of good governance and sustainable development.
On the political front, Thailand is moving according to the Roadmap of the National Council for Peace and Order to achieve a strong, sustainable democracy, and is on target to hold an election as planned.
On the economic front, the Thai economy is expanding. Total GDP growth in the first half of 2017 reached 3.5 % and a 4 per cent annual growth is expected. Thailand’s economic growth is gaining momentum, prompting an upward revision in growth projections. Investment, tourism and strong growth in exports are key drivers of Thailand’s economy.
In the first half of 2017, the Board of Investment received FDI applications worth US$6.5 billion and approved investment projects worth $10 billion, recording a 15 % growth. As for tourism, the number of international tourist arrivals in 2017 is expected to reach $35 million.
Regarding international trade, Thailand’s exports are expected to exceed the targeted 5 per cent annual growth rate set for 2017, as significant expansions are recorded in major markets, especially China, Japan and US.
In the first 8 months of 2017, Thailand’s exports reached $153.6 billion, while its imports totaled $144.75 billion, generating a positive trade balance of $8.87 billion. These figures indicate an 8.9 % expansion in exports and 15.4 % expansion in imports.
On the bilateral front, Thailand and Việt Nam have traditionally enjoyed excellent relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1976. Visits to either country by the nations’ leaders this year has furthered cordial bilateral relations.
The August 17-19 visit to Thailand by the Prime Minister of Việt Nam, Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, has advanced the Thailand-Việt Nam Strategic Partnership. Likewise, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, visited Việt Nam to attend the 25th APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting on November 8-10.
As a result of the fruitful bilateral discussions between the two Prime Ministers on the sidelines of the meeting, both sides have agreed to both deepen and broaden co-operative endeavours in politics, security, economy, trade, tourism and people-to-people contacts. This has elevated the level and intensity of our Strategic Partnership to an even higher plane.
In addition, President of National Legislative Assembly of Thailand, Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, paid an official visit to Việt Nam on August 13-16 at the invitation of Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân, Chairwoman of Việt Nam’s National Assembly.
It can be said that the frequent exchange of visits at all levels between the two countries, ranging from Prime Ministers and senior military personnel to various officials from different ministries and local authorities, is a true testimony of our friendship, which only grows closer with time.
In the sphere of economic co-operation, total trade was valued at $13 billion in 2016. During the first half of this year, two-way trade rose to nearly $7 billion, an increase of almost 15 % over the same period last year. Both countries have set a target for bilateral trade volume value of $20 billion by 2020.
It is noteworthy that Thailand has moved up to rank as the 8th biggest investor in Việt Nam in the first two quarters of 2017, with an accumulated investment value of almost $8 billion and additional projects values at $7 billion in the pipeline.
The importance of Việt Nam as a manufacturing base has been demonstrated in the Thai private sector’s long-term vision and determination to develop a business model with social responsibility in the country. It is also gratifying to note that the Thai business community is contributing to Việt Nam’s economic progress.
In multilateral co-operation, both countries continue to strengthen activities within regional and international cooperation mechanisms, namely United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group (APEC) , Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and, most importantly, ASEAN.
The ASEAN Declaration, or Bangkok Declaration, was signed on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok. As Thailand is one of its founding members, ASEAN has been and will continue to be a cornerstone of Thailand’s foreign policy. Therefore, I am very pleased that this year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of its establishment. In this connection, Thailand is committed to working closely with Việt Nam and other member countries to promote ASEAN’s centrality in the regional architecture with the aim of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Socio-cultural relations is another area where co-operation has intensified. The people do act as a bridge between our countries. In 2016, more than 800,000 Vietnamese tourists visited Thailand, and over 250,000 Thai tourists have come to Việt Nam to enjoy the many beautiful landscapes in this country. In the first six months of this year, the number of tourists of both countries has already exceeded that of last year. It can be said that the success of the establishment of sister city relations between localities of both countries and activities of the Thailand-Việt Nam and Việt Nam-Thailand Friendship Associations have also greatly enhanced our people-to-people contacts.
Last, but not least, I believe that the co-operation and friendship between our two countries and peoples will further strengthen in the years to come.