Thailand-S.Korea agree to double trade to $30 billion

Thailand and South Korea agreed to more than double their annual trade to $30 billion over the next five years, the kingdom's prime minister said Saturday.

After a meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Thai leader Yingluck Shinawatra said the pair had vowed to strengthen economic bonds between their countries.

Thailand will boost exports of rice, fruit and frozen chicken, Yingluck said, adding South Korea had expressed support for the multi-billion-dollar Dawei deep sea port project being led by a Thai company in Myanmar.

"This project (Dawei) will turn Thailand into Asia-Pacific hub for trade and logistics," Yingluck said, without detailing South Korea's offer of help.

The Dawei development on Myanmar's southern Andaman coast is a key part of the impoverished country's plans to transform its economy, giving neighbours such as Thailand an outlet to the Indian Ocean and markets to the West.

But the project -- led by Thai industrial giant Ital-Thai -- has faced resistance from local villagers and there have been signs of funding troubles.

Both countries will ask their trade ministers to plan ways to raise bilateral trade from "the current $14 billion to $30 billion over the next five years", the Thai prime minister said.

On the first trip by a South Korean leader to Thailand for more than three decades, Lee also expressed his nation's interest in investing in high speed train projects and water management schemes in the kingdom.

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