Bangkok (VNA) Thailand’s government on January 7 announced a 14-point plan to promote trade in 2021, including a plan to look for more free-trade agreements (FTAs).

Other points include boosting the export of vegetarian and halal foods, and improving exporters’ access to support services.

The Ministry of Commerce said it would draw up the country’s first five-year trading plan, to support the national drive to produce and export more value-added products. Thai exports were severely hit in 2020 by the disruption of the supply chains and lowered global demand brought about the COVID-10 pandemic.

Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce, said the government hopes to boost exports by pro-actively marketing Thai exports in key markets, accelerate efforts to create mini-FTAs, and promote the export of services.

Between January and November 2020, Thai exports exceeded 210 billion USD, down 6.92 percent from the same period in 2019. The ministry now expects exports to expand by 4 percent in 2021, based on the assumption that the global economy will expand by 5.2 percent in 2021 compared with a contraction of 4.4 percent in 2020.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) expects global trade to expand by 7.2 percent in 2021, which should help with the recovery of Thai exports, according to Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office.

The private-sector Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking said on January 6 that it expects the Thai economy to grow by 1.5-3.5 percent this year if exports expand by 3-5 percent as forecast.

Thai National Shippers’ Council also said this week that it expects the value of Thai exports to contract by 6.78 percent in 2020 before coming back to expand by 3-4 percent in 2021./.