COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - Thailand and Sri Lanka have agreed to double their trade to US$1 billion (29.6 billion baht) over the next three to five years.
The two countries set the trade target at the 3rd Sri Lanka-Thailand Joint Commission meeting in Colombo on Thursday.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris, who chaired the meeting, agreed that the two countries would boost their trade significantly.
Mr Surapong said trade between Thailand and Sri Lanka is currently valued at about $500 million. He said officials from both countries will discuss further possible trade areas to meet the goal.
The Sri Lankan government asked Thailand to expand investment in the island nation. The government wants Thai companies to invest in infrastructure, fisheries, food processing and tourism, Mr Surapong said.
A Foreign Ministry report said few Thai businesses have invested in Sri Lanka due to the violence and unrest caused by the country's civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2009.
Among a handful of Thai investors in Sri Lanka are the Centara Group, the Dusit Thani and the Amari Group.
"With a population of 20 million and high potential of economic expansion, I believe Sri Lanka presents an opportunity for Thailand," Mr Surapong said.
In order to introduce Sri Lanka's market to Thai investors, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will visit the country from May 31 to June 1.
Mr Surapong said about 20 investors from the agriculture, fisheries, food processing, energy and tourism sectors have expressed an interest in the trip.
Four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) would be signed by the two governments during the prime minister's visit.
Two MoUs aim to establish collaboration on enhancing cooperation in tourism, sciences and technology between the two countries.
The other MoUs aim to establish Ayutthaya in Thailand and Kandy in Sri Lanka as Buddhist twin cities, and agree to exempt visa requirements for diplomatic and bureaucratic purposes.
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- Writer: Paritta Wangkiat