Thailand to export halal food to Saudi Arabia after restoration of diplomatic relations

BANGKOK: The Ministry of Commerce is going to roll out export plans for chicken and halal food for the Saudi Arabia market after the Middle Eastern state last week restored full diplomatic relations with Thailand.

Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said the department and the International Trade Promotion Office in Jeddah will bring trade delegations and executives of both Saudi Arabia and Thailand together this year to seek potential export expansion and promote sales of Thai products in Saudi supermarkets.

Meanwhile, the department also plans to invite Thai entrepreneurs to participate in trade exhibitions in Saudi Arabia such as the Saudi Food Expo.

Mr. Phusit said the department also aims to strengthen the demand for Thai food products, halal food, industrial products, and beauty goods by promoting via online channels.

According to the International Trade Promotion Department, Saudi Arabia has set “Saudi Vision 2030” a strategic framework to reduce the country’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

With such an opportunity, Mr. Phusit said the department will keep enhancing Thai exporters’ capabilities and provide in-depth information about the overall Middle East market in order to pursue higher trade.

In 2021, trade between Thailand and Saudi Arabia tallied US$7.30 billion, up 31.8% from $5.53 billion the year before. Of the total, exports from Thailand accounted for $1.63 billion and imports made up $5.66 billion.

Export goods from Thailand range from automobile and parts, wood and wooden products, air conditioners and parts, rubber products, to canned and processed seafood.

The imports were mainly crude oil, chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides, finished oil, and metallic minerals.

Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Sanan Angubolkul recently predicted exports to Saudi Arabia will grow to 2.2% of the total export value, up from 0.6% of total exports of $1.5 million last year.

With the country’s reopening and appropriate marketing campaigns, Mr. Sanan also expects about 150,000 Saudi Arabian visitors a year, generating an income of 9 billion baht.

In 2019, Thailand saw 700,000 arrivals from the Middle East, but only 36,000 were from Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Saudi Arabia used to be the largest market for Thai workers in the Middle East. Between 1970 and 1980, there were an estimated 200,000 Thai workers, both legal and illegal, working in Saudi Arabia with an estimated 9 billion baht worth of income sent back to Thailand.

© National News Bureau of Thailand

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