Thais travelling to neighbouring countries will soon be allowed to take with them up to 2 million baht from the current limit of 500,000 baht.
The move is aimed at promoting greater use of the Thai currency and boosting border trade.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), said the Finance Ministry has already made a proposal to the Bank of Thailand and expects a positive answer soon.
Raising the baht ceiling for Thai visitors will help to facilitate and spur cross-border trade now that more than 40 border and temporary checkpoints already use the currency to settle transactions, he said.
Mr Isara said Thai border trade can increase substantially if Thailand gets more serious in upgrading existing facilities at Thai checkpoints.
Foreign Trade Department statistics show cross-border trade amounted to 911 billion baht last year, up by 2.23% from 2011.
Of that total, exports accounted for 557 billion baht, down by 4%, and imports 354 billion, up by 13.9%.
First-half cross-border trade rose by a marginal 0.46% year-on year to 457 billion baht, with Malaysia contributing the most at 247 billion or about 54%.
Myanmar came second at 95.3 billion baht (20.8%), followed by Laos at 67.3 billion (14.7%) and Cambodia at 46.9 billion (10.3%).
Overall, exports from Thailand fetched 280 billion baht during the period, down by 1.46% year-on-year, while imports increased by 3.67% to 177 billion.
Thailand enjoyed an overall border trade surplus of 104 billion baht in the first half.
The surplus with Laos totalled 44.3 billion baht in that period, followed by Cambodia (38.3 billion) and Malaysia (37.4 billion), but the country had a trade deficit worth 16.3 billion with Myanmar.
Mr Isara said the TCC projects cross-border trade will reach 1 trillion baht for the full year.
Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, said border trade will account for 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) if it does achieve that target.
This would help offset the overall trend of weaker exports this year, he said.
Last month, the Bank of Thailand slashed its export growth projection to 4% from 7.5% and lowered its economic growth estimate to 4.2% from 5.1%.
Meanwhile, the National Economic and Social Development Board cut its forecast last week for full-year GDP growth to a range of 3.8% to 4.3% from 4.2% to 5.2% projected in May.
The government's planning agency also lowered its export growth estimate to 5% from 7.6%, reflecting weak demand abroad.
In a related development, TCC members met with Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong recently.
Mr Isara said the meeting agreed to establish two ad hoc committees that will include representatives of the Bank of Thailand, the Finance Ministry and the TCC to monitor the exchange rate and curb any adverse impact on Thai exporters.
About the author
- Writer: Chatrudee Theparat
Position: Business Reporter