BANGKOK - Bilateral trade between Malaysia and Thailand is set to reach new heights with both governments agreeing yesterday to take proactive measures to facilitate investments.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said many Thai entrepreneurs voiced their interest to invest in Malaysia, while Bangkok had also pledged to liberalise its banking sector to allow financial institutions from Malaysia to expand operations in Thailand.
He also urged Malaysian companies to explore the possibility of taking part in several massive infrastructure projects, valued up to US$60 billion (S$76.8 billion) to take place in the next seven years.
Muhyiddin said Thai entrepreneurs had shown keen interest in tourism, retail, property and manufacturing sectors.
"They wish to learn more about investment incentives and support as well as our policy on foreign investments.
"This is a good sign as we want more Thai industrial players to invest in Malaysia," he said after attending a round-table meeting with captains of industry from both countries here yesterday.
Present were Thai Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and Perlis Menteri Besar Azlan Man.
Muhyiddin said during the session, Kittirat had said Bangkok was in the process of liberalising its banking sector to allow Malaysian banks to expand their operations in Thailand in the next five years.
"My counterpart also said the Thai Parliament was in the process of approving funds for massive infrastructure projects involving train services, highways and ports where Malaysian companies have a great opportunity to take part in these projects over the next seven years."
Muhyiddin described his two-day official visit here as "highly fruitful" in taking the bilateral relationship between the countries to greater heights.
"During my courtesy calls on the Thai prime minister (Yingluck Shinawatra) and her deputy, we saw the commitment of both governments to expedite the projects and programmes we had agreed upon earlier, particularly those in southern Thailand."
He said both governments had also agreed that the halal market was one of the sectors in which the public and private sectors of both countries could focus.
Earlier, Muhyiddin urged the Malaysian and Thai industry captains to forge strategic collaborations to reap greater benefits from the ASEAN regional trade deals with developed nations and emerging economies in the Asian region.
He said entrepreneurs from the countries should look at the bigger picture of the vast economic potential in the region and beyond by seeing each other as partners rather than as competitors.
He pointed out that the regional economic integration initiatives through the ASEAN Economic Community have seen intra-ASEAN trade grow steadily over the years to reach US$601 billion (S$769 billion) or 26 per cent of the total ASEAN trade.
Muhyiddin said industry players from Malaysia and Thailand should pursue many untapped business opportunities for trade, investments and mergers.