Tafta propels automotive exports

Tafta propels automotive exports

Thailand's car and car parts exports have surged under free trade privileges, including a 399% gain during the 14 years of a bilateral pact with Australia.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said that thanks to free trade agreements (FTAs), Australia is now Thailand's largest export market for cars, followed by Asean and New Zealand.

Last year, Thailand fetched US$5.84 billion from car shipments to Australia, making up 55% of total exports to that country.

From 2005, the first year of the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (Tafta), car and parts shipments rose 399% to $5.85 billion.

Automotive exports to Asean soared 35,142% from 1993, the year Thailand's FTA with the region, known as the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta), took effect, tallying $5.39 billion in 2018.

Asean is the biggest export market for Thai auto parts, with shipments reaching $6.01 billion in 2018, followed by the US ($3.83 billion), Japan ($2.97 billion) and China ($1.68 billion).

In 2018, cars and car parts were Thailand's biggest export products. Shipments rose last year by 4.7% to $19.4 billion, contributing 11.5% to export value. The key markets of Australia, Asean and New Zealand dominated with 62.4% of exports in those two sectors.

Thailand has 13 FTAs in place, including the Asean-Hong Kong FTA and an investment agreement that took effect in early January.

The Foreign Trade Department said the use of FTA privileges by Thai exporters topped $69.6 billion in 2018, up 15.2% from 2017.

The greatest FTA use was from Afta ($26.9 billion), followed by Thai-China ($17.6 billion), Thai-Australia ($9.12 billion), Thai-Japan ($7.56 billion) and Thai-India ($4.46 billion).

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