The Thai government is currently expanding the country’s infrastructure connection with neighboring countries, which in turn is leading to higher cross-border trade. The Thai Department of Foreign Trade reports that the cross-border trade value between Thailand and Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Malaysia increased by over a fifth year-on-year in 2021.
The ministry’s Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA) has an important role in driving the expansion of border connectivity via soft loans and grants. These are given to countries to build critical infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and bridges. Beneficiary countries include Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, East Timor, and Bhutan. Over the past 17 years, NEDA has disbursed loans worth THB 21 billion (USD 554 million) to more than 50 projects, with the majority of funds going to Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. These loans carry a low interest rate. Around half of them are paid to Thai contractors, which the loans require to be lead companies in project development.
Some notable examples of projects with NEDA funding include a 7.5km railway linking Thanaleng to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, the Fifth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge between Bueng Kan province in Thailand and Bolikhamxai province in Laos, as well as the THB 900 million (USD 24 million) project funding and immigration checkpoint and roads in Cambodia. Interestingly, NEDA plans to issue green bonds in the near future.
(Source: Bangkok Post)