Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Helen Liddell meets Thailand´s Finance Minister in Bangkok [March 1998]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 26 March 1998.

Economic Secretary Helen Liddell today welcomed Thailand’s progress in implementing the agreed International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme of reform, reiterated Britain’s commitment to Thailand and the British Government’s confidence that the implementation of the reform programme will restore confidence and prosperity. Mrs Liddell expressed her confidence about Thailand’s future prospects.

The Minister has been undertaking a two day trip to Thailand to show the British Government’s support to the country during its current financial difficulties, to encourage the reform effort, and to learn at first hand about the country’s current situation.

During the trip Mrs Liddell met:

  • HE Tarrin Nimmanhaeminda, Minister of Finance;
  • HE Suthep Thueksuban, Minister of Transport and Communications;
  • HE Abhisit Vejjajiva, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister;
  • HE Dr Savit Bhodivihok, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister;
  • HE Pisit Leeahtam, Deputy Minister of Finance; and
  • HE Dr Chaiyawat Wibulswasdi, Governor, Bank of Thailand.

Commenting on Thailand’s commitment to the IMF Programme, Mrs Liddell said:

“I have a very strong impression of commitment to reforms following my meetings in Bangkok. There are now signs of a real improvement in confidence in Thailand as a direct result of decisive action. Much, however, remains to be done. Further implementation of reforms to build a solid platform for growth will cause confidence to return bringing renewed prosperity.

“The UK is committed to ensuring that Thailand’s IMF programme remains fully financed at all times and the UK will support the provision of additional financing if appropriate through the IMF’s new Supplemental Reserve facility.”

The UK is looking to put in place arrangements to ensure European expertise can be effectively mobilised in providing technical assistance to help Asia. Britain has considerable experience of privatisation. A visiting team of British privatisation experts, from both the public and private sectors, explored how to share their expertise. Mrs Liddell said:

“The widening of the structural reform agenda to include an ambitious privatisation schedule is to be welcomed. This will lead to important efficiency gains in the Thai economy, as well as significant proceeds which could be used in recapitalising the financial sector.”

Mrs Liddell stressed the importance of limiting the impact of the current financial difficulties on the poor of Thailand. Mrs Liddell said:

“A well-designed social safety net in Thailand has to be developed as a high priority. I would like to see the rapid progress on this with international financial institutions and other donors working in close cooperation.”

Mrs Liddell said there was a deep European interest in Thailand. The ASEM 2 Summit in London in early April would be hosted by the Prime Minister Tony Blair, and would be an important forum for discussion of the financial difficulties affecting some Asian countries and practical steps towards their resolution. Britain has proposed an ASEM Trust Fund at the World Bank and was exploring ways of improving the flow of  echnical assistance.

Mrs Liddell said:

“The ASEM 2 Summit in London will be an important step forward in the practical and mutually beneficial dialogue between Asia and Europe. It will build on the foundations so successfully laid at the first ASEM Summit in Bangkok. I know that the Prime Minister is looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai to London.

“Britain supports the idea of an ASEM Trust Fund and the World Bank is exploring with others how best to improve the flow of technical assistance and advice to Asia.”

The UK would also be using its position as Chairman of the G7/8 and the European Union to consider how best the international monetary system should be strengthened in the light of the financial situation in Asia.

Mrs Liddell said:

“The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, began the ‘Birmingham process’ of consultation through which we are seeking to learn the lessons from Asia’s financial difficulties and I had very useful discussions with my Thai colleagues.”