Thailand preps to resume EU talks
Thailand aims to settle a joint understanding document that paves the way to kicking off talks for the long-awaited free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) this year.
According to Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit who met Pirkka Tapiola, the EU ambassador to Thailand, on Monday, the joint understanding document will be used as a framework for the FTA talks by the two governments which are expected to commence next year.
"The government and the Commerce Ministry are serious to pursue FTA talks with the EU, while the EU itself aims that Thailand should be the third country in Asean the bloc will sign the pact with after Vietnam and Singapore," Mr Jurin said, adding once Thai-EU FTA becomes effective, Thailand expects to enjoy trade and investment expansion because the EU (27 countries) is Thailand's fifth trading partner after Asean, China, Japan and the United States in world trade.
Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said the joint understanding document covers trade in goods, trade in services and investments, as well as other areas of interest, such as intellectual property, government procurement and e-commerce.
The document needs consideration and approval by the two parties before the actual negotiation starts.
In a related development, Mr Jurin said that he and Mr Tapiola also shared the view the World Trade Organization (WTO) should step up its role in easing the impact of Covid-19, in particular by increasing vaccine production capacity and ensuring equity in distribution.
He said Thailand is also ready to join hands with the EU to support the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference to be held between Nov 30 and Dec 3 in Geneva, Switzerland, and restore trust in the multilateral trading system.
These global matters could be jointly addressed through closer cooperation, given the policies of the current administration on the bio-, circular and green (BCG) economy and standard enhancement for organic agriculture, he said.
In 2020, bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU totalled US$33.1 billion, representing 7.56% of Thailand's trade with the world.
Thai exports to the EU were $17.6 billion last year, with top export categories including computers and components, gems and jewellery, rubber products, air conditioners and components, automobile equipment and components, circuit boards, machinery and components, motorcycles and components, electrical appliances and components, and lenses.
FTA negotiations were put on hold after the 2014 coup. The EU protested the suspension of democracy.
- EU talk