Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Tuesday said Thailand should seize business opportunities under China's initiative to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) in its south into an economic powerhouse.

Somkid was speaking at a business matching function held by the People's Government of Guangdong Province, China and the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce here in Bangkok.

Led by Li Xi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and also the secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, more than 200 executives from local Guangdong companies attended the function.

Somkid said the visit came at "the right time" as Thailand had just finished a general election. Meanwhile, Thailand takes up the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year.

As one of the most developed provinces in China, Guangdong bridges the country with ASEAN under China's GBA plan. Thailand, the hub of ASEAN, should seek to tighten cooperation with the province in all dimensions, Somkid said.

Thailand will benefit from this geopolitical arrangement as the center of ASEAN, said the deputy prime minister in charge of Thailand's economy.

Two-way trade between Thailand and Guangdong totaled 24 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, about one forth of the total amount between Thailand and China. So far, Thailand's direct investment projects in Guangdong Province numbered 755, while those from Guangdong in Thailand totaled 113.

The number of visitors from Guangdong to Thailand reached 1.5 million.

The U.S-China trade dispute is affecting Thailand's trade-dependent economy, while China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) brings hopes for economic and trade cooperation amid rising protectionism, said Somkid.

"The GBA scheme highly complies with Thailand's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor plan. With Thailand joining the BRI, it underlines the importance of Thailand in China's view. Both countries have cooperated in all areas, including economy, technology, science, investment, and tourism." said Somkid.

Source: China � ASEAN Business Council