Government to expedite studies on Thai-EU FTA

Government to expedite studies on Thai-EU FTA

The government pledges to speed up studies on the opportunities and challenges in reviving long-delayed trade talks between Thailand and the EU after the Council of the EU said in a statement on Tuesday the bloc aims to resume negotiations with Thailand on a free trade agreement (FTA).

Auramon Supthaweethum, the director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations, said the studies on a Thai-EU FTA could possibly be submitted to the cabinet for approval next month.

The department is scheduled to hold public hearings nationwide this month and next.

Hearings were set for Oct 22 in Chiang Mai, Oct 28 in Songkhla and Nov 7 in Khon Kaen.

A final public hearing may happen in Bangkok after an initial hearing took place in the capital on Sept 23.

Mrs Auramon said a Thai-EU FTA would help expand the market for Thai products, notably for farm goods, processed products, garments, and automobiles and parts, while drawing foreign investment from the bloc.

In terms of challenges, based on the experiences of Vietnam, Singapore and Mercosur (the South American trade bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), the trade pacts with the EU contain relatively high standards and include e-commerce, trade competition, intellectual property and state procurement as well as market access for goods, services and investment.

The EU is Thailand's fourth largest trading partner in the world and the No.4 investor here.

Bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU totalled US$47.3 billion in 2018, accounting for 9.4% of Thailand's trade with the global market. The figure was up 6.5% from the year before.

Of the total, exports accounted for $25 billion, up 5.1% from 2017, and imports were $22.2 billion, up 8.1% from the previous year.

FTA negotiations between Thailand and the EU have been on hold since the 2014 coup and subsequent military rule. The EU protested the suspension of democracy.

Thailand held general elections in March and a pro-army coalition of parties has formed a government, officially ending five years of military rule.

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