PM satisfied with Australian official visit


SYDNEY, May 29 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday expressed her satisfaction with the official visit to Australia as Canberra has agreed to consider lifting its ban on the importation of Thai chicken meat and frozen shrimp as requested.

The Thai premier was visiting Australia May 26-29 as a guest of the Australian government during the celebration the 60th anniversary of the two nations establishment of diplomatic relations.

She said that the overall trip was considered successful as the two premiers signed  Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) on Cooperation in Education and Training and a Young Political Leaders’ Exchange Program to further strengthen ties between the two peoples.

Ms Yingluck said during the discussion with her Australian counterpart Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister agreed to consider lifting the ban on Thai chicken meat and frozen shrimp and would consider importing more rice from Thailand.

The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) was signed on July 5, 2004 and came into effect on Jan 1, 2005 which gradually increased bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, she said.

TAFTA is set to grow 20 per cent by 2016, she said, adding that the countries discussed ways to reduce obstacles under TAFTA such as tax barriers and will have a joint committee meeting to further consider the matter in June.

Ms Yingluck said that meeting between the two women leaders could provide an advantage in helping strengthen bilateral ties.

During the visit, Ms Yingluck said, she has launched campaign “Thailand: Kitchen to the World”  to publicise food products and raise awareness concerning food security among the population.

“Thailand is an agricultural producer whose products are qualified by competitive pricing,” she said. “This helps address the food security problem. Its significance increases when the world faces growing challenges such as climate change, and natural disasters which sometimes leads to food shortages.

Ms Yingluck has later met New South Wales Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and discussed a wide range of cooperation. She also thanked Sydney residents who helped Thailand during the massive flood last year.

The Thai premier exchanged ideas with Ms Gillard on responding to natural disasters in the future.

Ms Yingluck thanked Mr Stoner who is also Minister for Trade and  Investment and Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Service of New South Wales for the effort to take care of Thai community in New South Wales.

Some 40,000 Thais living in New South Wales and there could be a good opportunity to exchange culture between Thais and Australians, she said.

Ms Yingluck was to leave Australia on Tuesday and was scheduled to arrive Thailand in the evening.