The Chinese Economy’s strong rebound from the COVID-19 shock will offer more opportunities for Thai businesses, said Wichai Kinchong Choi, Senior Vice President of leading Thai bank Kasikornbank.

China has been Thailand’s largest trading partner for years. “As demand from the European Union and U.S. markets is dented, the Chinese market becomes even more important for Thailand,” Wichai said.

Thailand’s economy posted its deepest decline in more than two decades last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and its recovery this year will to some extent depend on how it enhances cooperation with China, Wichai said.

Bucking a global downward trend, trade volume between China and Thailand expanded 7.5 percent year-on-year to 98.63 billion U.S. dollars last year, according to statistics from China’s Ministry of Commerce. The growth accelerated from an annual increase of 4.8 percent registered in 2019.

Despite the COVID-19 fallout, bilateral trade further gathered steam in 2021, surging 28.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, latest data from the Chinese customs showed.

“Sustained strong purchasing power at the Chinese market has provided hope for Thai exporters,” Wichai said.

He noted that besides boosting export, a key growth engine of the Thai economy, Thailand also intended to speed up the alignment of its “Thailand 4.0” development strategy with the Belt and Road Initiative, and attract more investment from Chinese Companies, especially in sectors such as new energy, new technology and infrastructure.

In a latest monetary policy report, the Bank of Thailand said the government’s stimulus measures and growth in exports with trading partners were key factors supporting the economic recovery. The Central Bank expected the Country’s Economy to expand 3 percent this year.