Asean is scheduled to clinch a pact on mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) for automobiles and building and construction materials next month in a move to reduce production costs and foster trade among members.
Sansern Samalapa, vice-minister to the commerce minister, said that despite the Covid-19 crisis, Asean members have continued working closely on MRAs for automobiles and parts, as well as for building and construction materials.
Once effective, the pacts will help reduce production costs and ease exports and imports of automotive products and construction materials among members, he said.
MRAs are deals between two or more parties to mutually recognise or accept some or all aspects of one another's conformity assessment results.
Such arrangements can be concluded at the technical or government-to-government levels.
Through MRAs, products that are tested and certified before export can enter the importing country directly without having to undergo similar conformity assessment procedures in the destination. Previously Asean countries agreed to MRAs for processed food and electrical and electronics products.
Asean is the biggest trade partner for Thailand. In 2019, Thailand's two-way trade with Asean amounted to US$107 billion, with exports making up $62.8 billion and imports $44.8 billion.
Thailand's major export and import markets in Asean are Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. In 2019, Thailand exported $5.07 billion worth of automotive products to Asean, with shipments of building and construction materials to the region worth $473 million.
Mr Sansern said Asean also reached a framework agreement on traditional medicines and dietary supplements, in an attempt to set standards, technical regulations, and joint inspection and certification processes.
In 2019, Thailand exported traditional medicines and supplement products worth $696 million to the bloc.
Mr Sansern said the group is scheduled to implement the Asean-wide Self-Certification regime next month, allowing certified exporters to self-certify the origin of their goods and enjoy preferential treatment.