Following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia in 2022, trade between the two nations has seen a significant upswing. Thailand’s exports to Saudi Arabia surged by over 20% last year. The Director of the Thai Trade Office in Jeddah, Apichat Prasertsud, shed light on this economic progress.
Saudi Arabia has experienced remarkable economic and social advancement, resulting in the government’s efforts to develop new industries. This, in turn, has led to a greater need for raw materials and industrial products from Thailand, including plastic pellets, building materials, wood, rubber, air conditioners, household items and consumables such as canned seafood and canned fruit.
“Thai products are regarded as high-quality by Saudis, with the ‘Product of Thailand’ label considered a trusted indicator, and the prices are also reasonable.” says the Director of the Thai Trade Office in Jeddah. “Despite the significant development and diversification of Thai products, the Saudi people still associate them mainly with staple food items due to the lack of communication over the past three decades. The Thai Trade Office is committed to introducing new products to the Saudi market.”
The plan is to maintain existing product lines while also introducing new ones that cater to the evolving preferences of the Saudi market. Exports of gems and jewellery have been consistent, while cosmetics and personal care products have gained popularity due to the changing role of women in Saudi society.
Additionally, agricultural products, such as plants and planting materials are of interest to Saudi customers, since the country is striving to establish more green spaces. Animal food is also in high demand, both for cattle and for pets, such as cats. Thailand has gained a significant share of the cat food market in Saudi Arabia due to the increasing number of households.
MOUs will be signed between The Ministry of Commerce, Thailand and The Ministry of Commerce, Saudi Arabia, to promote trade cooperation and reduce trade barriers. As a result of a strong relationship between the two countries, both at the state and private sector level.
“Private sector delegations have visited each other’s countries, while the establishment of the Thai-Saudi Business Council has provided opportunities for businesses to connect and create trade opportunities. In August, a Thai business delegation will visit Saudi Arabia for a roadshow and business matching,” says Apichat Prasertsud.
The Thai Trade Office will also help promote Thai food and household products in Saudi department stores, showcase Thai products in Saudi exhibitions, and facilitate business matching and investment opportunities. Saudi Arabia is not only interested in purchasing products but also investing in ventures, such as constructing Thai restaurants in Saudi Arabia and buildings with Thai craftsmen.
The Director of the Thai Trade Office in Jeddah highlighted the increasing business prospects in Saudi Arabia as the society becomes more open. While it may require time to comprehend the unique characteristics of the market, including lifestyle, culture and regulations, the Director remains optimistic about the potential benefits of a strong relationship between Saudi Arabia and Thailand. In terms of resource and energy security, he believes that both countries could form a fruitful partnership with mutual advantages.
Words by Pattareeya Puapongsakorn
Photo courtesy of the Thai Trade Office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia