BANGKOK, Feb 23 — The proposed reopening of borders, vaccination certificate recognition and cooperation in vaccine research and development are among the topics up for discussion during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s official visit to Thailand beginning Thursday.
Malaysia’s Ambassador to Thailand, Datuk Jojie Samuel said Ismail Sabri and his Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan o-cha would also discuss infrastructure projects at the Malaysia-Thailand borders as well as ties and economic cooperation between the two countries.
Ismail Sabri is making his first visit to Bangkok as prime minister, at the invitation of Prayuth.
Jojie said the reopening of air, land and sea borders would revitalise economic activities and intensify travel between the two countries.
“Both sides will hold further discussions to fine-tune the air Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) and Test & Go scheme.
“The Thai government has given the time frame for reopening of borders but it depends on further discussions with Malaysia.
“The (Malaysian) National Recovery Council has recommended the reopening of borders but it is up to the Malaysian government to determine the time frame. We expect it to be soon … the prime minister will give the details,” he told Malaysian media here today.
Thailand has introduced the quarantine-free Test & Go programme for travellers which requires them to pass two Covid-19 RT-PCR tests, once on the day of arrival and the second on the fifth day.
Jojie said Thailand and Malaysia would also look into introducing a mechanism for mutual recognition of their vaccination certificates.
“Both sides realise the importance of recognising digital vaccination certificates from Malaysia and Thailand. The (Malaysian) Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and Thailand Digital Government Agency have submitted technical details and both agencies will hold further discussions,” he said.
Jojie said Thailand was also keen to cooperate with Malaysia on vaccine research and development.
“The official visit offers the prime minister a good opportunity to discuss with his counterpart the possibility of deepening cooperation, especially economic activities at the border areas which account for 70 per cent of total bilateral trade between Malaysia and Thailand,” he added.
Ismail Sabri’s three-day visit is part of his familiarisation tour of Southeast Asia after he was appointed as the prime minister in August 2021. Malaysia and Thailand have established diplomatic ties for 65 years, since Malaysia gained independence in 1957.
During the visit, Ismail Sabri will be accompanied by Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias and several other ministers.
He is scheduled to arrive at the Military Air Terminal 2 in Bangkok at 8.30pm (local time) on Thursday from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and will be received by Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.
The official programme will begin on Friday and Ismail Sabri’s delegation will fully observe the health protocols set by the Thai government throughout the visit.
The prime minister is scheduled to attend a Keluarga Malaysia gathering involving about 100 Malaysians in Thailand.
Ismail Sabri will witness the signing of memorandums of understanding between Pharmaniaga Research Centre Sdn Bhd and Bio-Innova Co Ltd; and Pharmaniaga LIfeScience Sdn Bhd and BioNet-Asia; and a licensed manufacturer agreement between COVID Medicare Support Ins (CMSI) and Acquest Healthcare Stem Cell Research & Development Co Ltd.
He will also attend a hi-tea gathering with members of the Malaysia-Thailand Chamber of Commerce to share experiences and discuss business issues in Thailand.
He will attend an official welcoming ceremony at Government House and a restricted meeting between the two prime ministers, before holding a joint press conference.
Ismail Sabri will then attend an official dinner to be hosted by Prayuth at Government House.
He will hold a press conference for the Malaysian media on the outcome of his official visit on Saturday, before departing for home.
Two-way trade between Malaysia and Thailand increased by 23 per cent to RM97.97 billion in 2021 from RM79.63 billion in 2020.
Thailand remains as Malaysia’s sixth-biggest trading partner in the world and the second-largest in Asean. Malaysia is Thailand’s fourth-largest trading partner in the world.