At a special Cabinet meeting yesterday, Thailand and Vietnam agreed to co-operate, rather than compete, on trade to boost bilateral commerce to US$20 billion (S$27.36 billion) by 2020 as well as work closely on suppressing illegal fishing, trafficking and smuggling.
A wide range of issues and industries for co-operation were discussed during the joint meeting as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung led his ministers on their visit to Thailand.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told a post-meeting briefing that Vietnam and Thailand are strategic partners, which hold joint Cabinet meetings occasionally.
This round, both sides agreed to support and facilitate Thai investors, notably small and medium enterprises, to set up in Vietnam, he said.
After the meeting, Prayut and Dung witnessed the signing of five documents: a joint statement on the third joint-cabinet meeting; a memorandum of understanding on labour co-operation; an agreement on the employment of workers; an MoU on the establishment of friendly relations between Ubon Ratchathani and the Vietnamese province of Kon Tum; and an MoU on the same friendly relations between Trat and Long An.
Dung highlighted security affairs at the meeting, saying both sides agreed not to allow any parties to use their territories to fight against the other.
On the South China Sea, the focus of territorial conflicts between Vietnam and other ASEAN members on one side and China, Dung said Vietnam reiterated its determination to solve the disputes by peaceful means.
Concern over South China Sea
Vietnam expressed concern that the situation in the troubled waters might upset peace and stability in the region.
Vietnam and Thailand urged all sides to honour the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, he said.
Interior Minister Anupong Paochinada told the meeting that both sides would co-operate on combating drug smuggling, human trafficking, non-traditional threats and illegal fishing, said Maj General Werachon Sukondhapatipak, a deputy government spokesman.
The two countries should also begin negotiations on an extradition treaty, Anupong was quoted as saying.
Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said in the meeting that to reach the US$20 billion target, both sides have to eliminate trade barriers and promote trade exhibitions.
They also need more co-operation to handle fluctuations of commodity prices, notably of rice and rubber, Pridiyathorn was quoted as saying at the meeting.
On transport links, Thailand and Vietnam would speed up the opening of bus services via Laos and explore more co-operation on sea and air transportation, he said.