Over 29,000 export items await waiver

Over 29,000 export items await waiver

Thailand to benefit from RCEP trade pact

More than 29,000 Thai export items will receive a tariff waiver from Jan 1 next year under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact, the world's biggest free trade deal.

The agreement was signed by 15 nations in Asia-Pacific, including Thailand in November last year, and needs ratification from at least nine countries to take effect.

Thailand has a total of 40,000 goods items that will gain benefits from the duty reduction, with 29,000 of them becoming the first to enjoy zero tariffs, according to the Commerce Ministry.

The remainder will see their tariffs gradually reduced to zero in 10-20 years, based on the conditions of each RCEP member.

Under RCEP, Thai investors will be given a right to hold a 70-80% share in certain businesses like construction overseas, creating new business opportunities for Thai business people.

"RCEP enforcement should start within this year," said Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit as he yesterday opened the RCEP Center, set up to educate entrepreneurs on the free trade pact.

Parliament has already approved the ratification, paving the way for three state agencies -- the Foreign Trade and Customs departments as well as the Industry Ministry -- to work on details of the pact.

Thailand will then inform the Asean secretary-general, which is also RCEP secretary-general, to complete the ratification process for the country.

"Whether RCEP will take effect will also depend on the ratification of eight other countries," said Mr Jurin.

At least six Asean countries and three countries outside Asean must ratify the pact to start its enforcement.

The pact comprises 20 chapters, which include provisions for trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures, sanitary measures, e-commerce, small businesses, government procurement and dispute settlement.

The combined GDP of RCEP members was worth more than US$28.5 trillion, making up 32.7% of the world's GDP.

Trade between members was valued at $11.2 trillion over the same period, representing 29.5% of global trade.

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