Ministry to propose frameworks for FTAs

Ministry to propose frameworks for FTAs

Cranes load cargo onto a ship at the Bangkok port.
Cranes load cargo onto a ship at the Bangkok port.

The Commerce Ministry looks set to propose negotiation frameworks for the Thai-EU free trade agreement (FTA) and Asean-Canada FTA for cabinet approval in the third quarter, aiming to boost the country's exports.

Speaking after the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee on Commerce meeting yesterday, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the negotiation framework for the Thai-EU FTA is scheduled to go before the cabinet by late September, while that for the Asean-Canada FTA is likely to be submitted to the cabinet in August.

"The government has been trying its best to accelerate talks on the free trade agreements, particularly a deal with the EU to boost exports, which are the only engine to boost the country's economic growth this year," Mr Jurin said.

Once the Thai-EU FTA becomes effective, Thailand expects to enjoy trade and investment expansion because the EU (27 countries) is Thailand's fifth largest trading partner after Asean, China, Japan and the US.

FTA negotiations were put on hold after the 2014 coup as the EU protested the suspension of democracy.

In 2020, bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU totalled US$33.1 billion (1 trillion baht), representing 7.56% of Thailand's global trade.

Thai exports to the EU totalled $17.6 billion last year, with top categories being computers, 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.

According to Mr Jurin, Thailand and Asean counterparts are also revving up discussions with Canada to establish a scope of negotiations for an Asean-Canada FTA.

Trade Negotiations Department director-general Auramon Supthaweethum recently assigned Duangarthit Nidhi-u-tai, deputy director-general of the department, to attend the 13th Asean-Canada Senior Economic Official meeting via video between June 14-15 to discuss plans for a framework for the Asean-Canada FTA talks.

At the meeting, considerable progress was made regarding the scope of the Asean-Canada FTA negotiations as attendees agreed there was a need to find a solution as soon as possible in order to create a proposal for the Asean-Canada Economic Ministers Meeting scheduled for September.

Two-way trade between Thailand and Canada totalled $2.31 billion last year, up 0.53%. Of the total, exports from Thailand represented $1.54 billion, up 0.67%, while imports were $767 million.

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