Privilege use drops among exporters due to outbreak
The use of free trade agreement (FTA) privileges and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) by Thai exporters tallied US$62.3 billion in 2020, down 10.5% from a year before, mainly attributed to the pandemic.
Of the total, the use of FTA privileges contributed $58.1 billion, down 11.4% year-on-year, while shipments under the GSP stood at $4.2 billion, up 5.03%, said Keerati Rushchano, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department.
The top five export markets with the highest use of FTA privileges were Asean ($19.3 billion), China ($19 billion), Australia ($6.9 billion), Japan ($6.4 billion) and India ($3.3 billion).
Products that made the most use of privileges were synthetic rubber products mixed with natural rubber, fruit, trucks of up to five tonnes, air conditioners and tapioca.
Thailand has 13 FTAs in place, including the Thailand-New Zealand FTA, which requires self-declaration for proof of origin, and the Asean-Hong Kong FTA, under which import tariffs on most products from Thailand were waived prior to the pact.
According to Mr Keerati, the US retained the highest rate of GSP use, tallying $3.8 billion, up 7.5% from the previous year, followed by Switzerland ($271 million, down 18%), Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States ($134 million, down 3.8%), and Norway ($31 million, down 1.3%). Products with the highest application of GSP privileges included processed food, canned pineapple and canned tuna.
He said Thai shipments to the US remained strong, even as 573 items were subject to GSP cuts by the US on April 25 of last year.
"A drop in the overall usage of FTA privileges and the GSP is largely because of the worldwide spread of the pandemic, which began in early 2020," said Mr Keerati. "Although certain Thai products saw a decline in exports, we have found many Thai products had the potential to expand exports in markets with which Thailand has an FTA in place. Among these products are food and beverage, farm and processed farm products."
Last year Thailand's overall exports fared better than expected, contracting 6.1% from the previous year to $231 billion, boosted by an unexpected rise of 4.7% year-on-year in December.
Products recording a strong expansion in December were mainly from three groups: food products; work-from-home products and home appliances; and coronavirus protection products such as rubber gloves, medical equipment and parts.
Other gainers were major industrial products such as plastic pellets; chemicals; electronic integrated circuits; computers, equipment and parts; and automobiles and parts.