Thailand will initiate free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union (EU) this year, and has agreed to accelerate the conclusion of negotiations on planned FTAs with the European Free Trade Association (Efta), Canada, Turkey and Sri Lanka. want to be. According to the Director of Trade Negotiations.
Secretary General Auramon Supthaweethum said the ministry’s negotiating plan for 2023 will mainly focus on launching FTA negotiations between Thailand and the EU. He will complete negotiations on four pending agreements with Efta, Canada, Turkey and Sri Lanka and conduct studies on the potential benefits and implications of his FTAs with new partners.
“Following the joint political will to pursue free trade agreement negotiations recently agreed by Thailand and the EU, the Ministry of Commerce will seek cabinet approval to proceed with the FTA plan at its meeting on February 7,” she said. Stated. Auramon. “Negotiations on her FTA between Thailand and her EU are likely to start in the first quarter of this year.”
With 27 member states, the EU is Thailand’s fourth largest trading partner after China, the United States and Japan.
FTA negotiations with the EU were put on hold after the 2014 coup, after the EU protested what it considered a moratorium on democracy.
Trade value between Thailand and the EU will reach US$41 billion in 2022, accounting for 7% of Thailand’s total trade value.
Last year’s exports to the EU reached $22.7 billion, up 5.17% year-on-year. Major export products include computers, computer equipment and parts, gems and jewelry, air conditioners and parts, rubber products and electronic circuit boards.
The ministry has also pledged to resume negotiations on four pending FTAs, aiming to complete negotiations with Efta, Canada, Turkey and Sri Lanka within 2024, Auramon said.
Negotiations with these countries have stalled in recent years due to the pandemic.
Thailand began initial negotiations with Efta in Bangkok last June, hoping to reach an agreement within two years.
Efta consists of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Auramon said the department is committed to accelerating studies of the benefits and implications of potential FTAs with new partners this year, particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Pacific Alliance and African countries.
The GCC is a regional intergovernmental political and economic coalition comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while the Pacific Alliance is a regional integration initiative comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. am.
“FTAs are an important tool to help Thailand become more competitive and reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers in the face of global challenges,” said Auramon. “They also play a key role in facilitating trade, upgrading Thai products to international standards and interconnecting supply chains.”