Exporters improve usage of FTAs from January to April
Thai exporters have made better use of free trade agreements (FTAs), as indicated by Thailand's higher shipments to 17 trading partners under effective FTAs in the first four months the year.
Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said overall utilisation of FTAs increased by 20.3% year-on-year in the first four months to US$21.7 billion (709 billion baht).
The privilege utilisation rate was 73.1% for the period, up from 68.6% year-on-year, while Thailand's total export volume with FTA partners rose 12.8% to $45.7 billion.
The biggest volume of FTA utilisation stemmed from the Asean FTA, which totalled $8.09 billion, while Asean-China tallied $5.36 billion, the Thai-Australia FTA ($3 billion), the Thai-Japan FTA ($2.29 billion) and the Asean-India FTA ($1.16 billion).
The country seeks to liberalise trade with Peru, and is using the Asean framework for FTAs with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Thailand has 13 FTAs in place, including the Asean-Hong Kong FTA and an investment agreement scheduled to take effect in January 2019. The country is continuing FTA talks with dialogue partners including Pakistan, Turkey and Sri Lanka. Talks with Turkey and Pakistan are set to conclude this year.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said he is keen to sign an FTA with Sri Lanka, 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 trading partners with whom Thailand has made the highest use of FTA privileges were Chile, Australia, Peru, Japan and South Korea. The utilisation rate of FTA privileges for exports bound for China significantly increased in the first four months after China agreed to award additional tariff cuts for certain products such as gearboxes and parts under the Asean-China FTA earlier this year.
Mr Adul said Thailand made less use of the benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences, with exports under the scheme dropping by 0.13% in the first four months to $1.47 billion.