Rustling up deals with 16 countries
Commerce Minister orders sales pitches
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has declared he will act as the country's salesperson, planning to team up with the private sector on trade missions in 16 countries and forge regional trade and cooperation agreements with local governments in China and India to boost export growth in 2020.
On Monday, after talks with commerce officials, Mr Jurin said trade destinations targeted for next year include India, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, France, Britain, the Middle East, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Cambodia and East Timor.
He has ordered commercial affairs officials and directors of Thai Trade Centers in 58 offices worldwide to seek opportunities to start new regional trade and cooperation agreements with certain states in India and Chinese provinces.
"The new deals will emulate free trade agreements [FTAs], covering market access both for trade and investment," said Mr Jurin. "Bilateral tariff cuts on goods and services are included in these deals, which will be made with provinces and states instead of central governments."
Trade negotiations with the local authorities of each state will be beefed up in the upcoming year to boost Thai exports, he said.
Mr Jurin said Thailand also wants to conclude FTA negotiations with Turkey next year and speed up talks with Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Thailand and Turkey signed a declaration in Ankara in July 2017 to start negotiations for a FTA, setting a goal to increase bilateral trade between the two countries by 40%.
The first phase of the agreement negotiations would only cover merchandise trade, while investments, services and e-commerce will be incorporated into the next stage.
A study by the Fiscal Policy Research Institute earlier estimated a Thailand-Turkey FTA would boost the Thai economy by 0.02-0.04%, raise consumption by 0.02-0.05%, and increase foreign investment by 0.03-0.06%.
Thailand and Pakistan launched FTA talks in 2015, bringing Pakistan's 200-million-strong market closer to Thai exporters.
The country is Thailand's second biggest trade partner in South Asia after India.
A study by the Fiscal Policy Research Institute estimated a FTA with Pakistan could boost Thai GDP growth by 0.08-0.32%, raise consumption by 0.09-0.35%, increase foreign investment in Thailand by 0.13-0.57% and lift exports by 0.10-0.41%.