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ICBC eyes expansion in Greater Mekong Sub-Region

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Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij(L) and Jiang Jianqing, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ICBC of China or Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, attend a press conference over the official launch of ICBC Thailand in Bangkok, Nov. 3, 2010. (Photo Source:Xinhua)

BANGKOK, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- China's largest state-owned commercial bank ICBC or Industrial and Commercial Bank of China announced on Wednesday its intention to deepen inroads into the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS), with Thailand as the center of its ASEAN expansion.

At the official opening ceremony of the launch of ICBC Thailand, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the establishment of ICBC Thailand will help bridge the two countries in trade, economic, cultural and tourism cooperation.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ICBC China, Jiang Jianqing said that the establishment of ICBC was a win-win situation for both countries, creating opportunities for Thai enterprises to penetrate into China and vice versa.

"ICBC can offer financial services such as trade settlements from Thai baht to Renminbi and vice versa. This type of financial service can save the costs of transactions for traders doing business in China or Thailand. Until now we have already conducted 46 billion in Renminbi in trade settlements. This type of service is increasing rapidly," Jiang Jianqing said.

Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said that Thailand and China "clicked" as early as 1975 when the two countries forged diplomatic relations. Since then Thailand and China have enjoyed greater economic cooperation.

Furthermore, with the launch of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement in early 2010, ICBC Thailand will play a greater role in its diverse financial services from its 19 sub-branches, creating a new framework of regional economic cooperation.

"In fact, Thailand was one of the first ASEAN members to establish formal ties with China in that perspective. In terms of informal relationship, that goes back even further," Korn Chatikavanij said.

ICBC China acquired ACL Bank Public Company Limited on April 21, 2010 with a 97.24 percent stake. It registered the Thai bank as ICBC (Thai) Public Company Limited on July 8, 2010.

ICBC China is the largest bank in the world by market capitalization. It is one of China's 'Big Four' state-owned commercial banks, the other three being Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank.

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