FTAs to get input from Thai growers

FTAs to get input from Thai growers

The government vows to seek and include comments from local farmers during any new trade talk efforts.

According to Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, officials will pay on-site visits to hear opinions and suggestions from various groups of farmers to supplement the new free-trade agreement (FTA) talks.

"Currently the department is preparing information for the Thai-EU FTA talks and studying the feasibility of participating in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)," Ms Auramon said. "The on-site visits will thus allow the department to know the genuine information from farmers before the negotiators commence any talks."

Eleven Pacific Rim countries recently signed the CPTPP, which was revised after the US withdrew from the previous TPP agreement in January 2017.

The countries are Singapore, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.

According to Ms Auramon, the department is also joining the National Farmers Council to promote the best use of existing FTAs that have cut import tariffs to zero.

Thailand has 13 FTAs in place, including the Asean-Hong Kong FTA and investment agreement signed last November and scheduled to take effect in January 2019.

Thailand is continuing FTA talks with dialogue partners including Pakistan, Turkey and Sri Lanka. The aim is to settle talks with Turkey and Pakistan this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is keen to sign an FTA with Sri Lanka, as he expects the South Asian country to become a key trading partner.

Sri Lanka is seen as an interesting market, given its healthy economic growth averaging 6.5% over the last five years, its strategic connectivity to China's One Belt, One Road plan, and its FTAs signed with fellow South Asian nations India and Pakistan.

The negotiators have completed an in-depth study of the Sri Lankan FTA. The Commerce Ministry needs to request cabinet approval before starting any talks with Sri Lanka.

The talks are likely to start with trade in goods and may proceed in tandem with the strategic partnership talks.

According to a preliminary survey, Sri Lanka needs Thai investment in agro-industrial business, gems and jewellery, tourism, consumer products, and electronics.

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