Free trade on agenda as Gen Prayut visits Europe

Free trade on agenda as Gen Prayut visits Europe

Thailand is set to address a bilateral Thailand-Britain free trade agreement (FTA) during a six-day European trade mission led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, starting Wednesday.

Kobsak Pootrakool, the Prime Minister's office minister, said Gen Prayut is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Theresa May in Britain on June 20 and an FTA is on the agenda to boost trade and investment.

"A Thailand-UK FTA aims to tighten economic alliances after the UK departs from the EU," said Mr Kobsak. "During the Europe trip, Thailand also aims to attract higher British investment in Thai education, science, technology, aviation and space."

He said high-ranking British officials such as Liam Fox, the secretary of state for international trade, met Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on April 5 and the two sides agreed to establish a joint high-level committee to consult on bilateral cooperation, especially in international trade, finance and investment; education; science and innovation; and security and defence.

Both sides agreed to prepare trade relations in the post-Brexit world, while Thailand expressed hope that the current poultry quota would not be adversely affected.

Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman, said Gen Prayut is also scheduled to open a seminar, "Transforming Thailand", in London on June 21. Gen Prayut will also visit Pearson Plc, a British multinational publishing and education company.

Mr Weerachon said Gen Prayut is set to meet Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury at Toulouse on June 22, where Airbus Commercial Aircraft and Thai Airways International Plc will sign a deal on a joint venture on maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

In December Airbus and THAI signed a memorandum of understanding to invest in an MRO facility at U-tapao airport, with an initial investment value of 2 billion baht.

Gen Prayut will take part in a business conference organised by the Board of Investment and the Mouvement des Entreprises de France on June 25. On the same day, Gen Prayut will meet French President Emmanuel Macron. The two leaders will witness the contract signing for a joint venture between Airbus Commercial Aircraft and THAI, and a purchasing contract to buy the THEOS II satellite for 8 billion baht between the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency and Airbus Defence & Space SAS.

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