Thai-UK pact sets stage for agreement negotiations
Thailand and the UK plan to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up a Joint Trade Committee on Commerce and Economic Cooperation, paving the way for a future free trade agreement (FTA) after Brexit.
Thailand is the first country in Asean to sign an MoU online with the UK after it withdrew from the EU.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit is scheduled to sign the MoU with Elizabeth Truss, the UK's secretary of state for international trade, on March 29.
"The MoU will enhance the relationship between Thailand and the UK, and expand trade and investment after Brexit," said Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department. "This will pave the way for negotiations and dialogue on an FTA between Thailand and the UK."
After Brexit, Ms Auramon said, her department discussed reviewing bilateral trade policies and seeking new opportunities to strengthen economic relations with Britain's international trade officials.
The MoU is a mechanism for both countries to promote economic cooperation and investment, especially in potential sectors like agriculture, food, finance and health.
The department expects its study on the benefits and impact of the FTA to be concluded soon, after which it schedules public hearings.
Thailand-UK trade in 2020 was valued at US$4.88 billion in total, with exports to the UK worth $3.09 billion.
Major exports were processed chicken, motorcycles and their components, rubber products, automobiles, electrical circuit boards, machinery and jewellery. Imports from Britain were valued at $1.79 billion. Key products include machines and their components, electrical circuit boards, chemicals, pharmaceutical products and electric machinery.
The Trade Negotiations Department is planning an online seminar on trade regulations and doing business with the UK after Brexit.