Trade pact with Pakistan nears completion

Trade pact with Pakistan nears completion

Conclusion expected by end of the year

Mrs Auramon says negotiations will be able to continue via video conferencing.
Mrs Auramon says negotiations will be able to continue via video conferencing.

Thailand aims to conclude talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) with Pakistan by the end of this year, with the expectation that the pact, once implemented, will help boost economic growth by 0.18-0.32 percentage points.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said Thailand and Pakistan have held nine rounds of talks that have concluded 12 chapters of the agreement's 13 chapters in total.

The remaining issues pending negotiations include customs protocol, trade facilitation, as well as related regulations regarding market access.

The idea of an FTA between Pakistan and Thailand was originally floated in early 2013, with the first round of negotiations taking place in September 2015 in Bangkok.

The ninth round of talks was held in November 2017 in Thailand, but talks between the countries have stalled since then.

"Despite the Covid-19 outbreaks, we aim to conclude the talks by the end of this year," said Mrs Auramon. "Both sides can negotiate through a video conference."

The department's study found the Pakistan-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (PATHFTA), once established, would increase Thailand's economic growth by 0.18-0.32 percentage points, or about US$200-800 million a year, she said.

PATHFTA would enable Thailand to use Pakistan as a production base and a springboard to tap into the markets of South Asia, the Middle East and China, said Mrs Auramon.

Pakistan has been actively promoting investment in Islamabad, the country's capital, and in key administrative units including Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, she said.

Pakistan has liberalised investment in most industries, especially food processing, logistics, textiles, automobiles, IT, construction, tourism and hotels. The exceptions are industries related to the security sector.

Mrs Auramon said Pakistan is an interesting and large market with a population of more than 220 million, the world's fifth largest, including 30 million adults with a high level of purchasing power. It has an abundance of natural resources such as copper, coal, gold and fishery resources such as shrimp, crab, fish and shellfish, which are raw materials for the seafood processing industries.

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