Thailand Calls for Korea's Participation in Infrastructure Projects

The Thai prime minister has expressed hope that South Korean investors will participate in massive infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy as he vowed to make efforts to address their concerns, South Korea’s presidential office said Tuesday.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha made the comments in a message conveyed to South Korean President Park Geun-hye through Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Park met Somkid at the presidential office earlier in the day.

Somkid arrived in Seoul on Monday with an economic delegation for talks with South Korean officials. The delegation is set to return home on Thursday.

Thai infrastructure projects include rail, subway, water management project, port and airport as well as satellite and smart-city development programs, according to South Korea and Thailand.

In 2013, South Korea’s state-run Korea Water Resources Corp.

was tapped as the preferred bidder for the Thai water management project, but the project has been put on hold after Prayuth took power following the May 2014 coup.

Park met with Prayuth in Myanmar in November 2014 during which Prayuth vowed to resume relevant procedures to ensure Korea Water Resources will regain its status of a preferred bidder in Thai water management project.

Park told Somkid that she will make efforts to ensure the two countries can fully unlock the potential for bilateral economic cooperation.

Also Tuesday, Somkid promised greater access for South Korean firms to his country’s various development projects at the inaugural session of bilateral committee on economic cooperation in Seoul with South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho.

“The Thai side welcomed Korea’s interest and possible participation in the aforementioned projects based on its advanced science and technology and ICT capabilities which could pave the way for successfully running the projects,” the joint committee said in a communique released by the South Korean Finance Ministry.

The two countries have agreed to extend by two years a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the railroad sector that was originally set to expire in May, according to the ministry. The move could help ensure Seoul’s participation in Thailand’s railroad development project.

The countries will also work to boost their bilateral trade, while moving to enhance their cooperation on culture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.

To this end, they will set up a new South Korea-Thailand Joint Trade Commission, which will work to double the countries’ bilateral trade within the next five years.

In 2015, bilateral trade between South Korea and Thailand came to $11.2 billion.

The countries will also establish various working groups that will each be tasked with boosting cooperation on culture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges, according to the joint communique.

During the committee meeting, Yoo told Somkid that he “feels very grateful,” citing Prayuth’s recent praise of “Descendants of the Sun,” a popular South Korean drama that tells the story of an army captain sent on a U.N. peacekeeping mission to a distant fictional country where he falls in love with a South Korean doctor, who was sent there to offer medical relief to stricken people.

The army captain and a team of South Korean doctors and nurses help save the lives of several people during the peacekeeping operation.

The Thai leader reportedly mentioned the Korean drama during a government event on March 17, asking officials to watch the drama from the perspective of patriotism, sacrifice, obeying orders and becoming a responsible citizen.
Separately, Somkid vowed to join international efforts to make North Korea change its stance, the presidential office said, apparently over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. (Ast)


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