Cabinet okays Asean-Canada FTA framework

Cabinet okays Asean-Canada FTA framework

The cabinet yesterday approved the negotiation framework for the Asean-Canada free trade agreement (FTA), hoping the pact will help open a gateway for Thailand into North America.

According to Rachada Dhanadirek, deputy government spokeswoman, the pact is expected to help facilitate the expansion of trade and investment, reduce obstacles from tariffs and non-tariff barriers as well as promote the services sector between members of Asean and Canada.

The negotiation framework covers trade, protection and remedy measures; rule of origin; customs procedures; trade facilitation, sanitary standards; practices on trade rules, services and investment; intellectual property, labour and environment protection; trade competition, state procurement; and the free movement of people.

Previously, the Asean Secretariat had studied the Asean-Canada FTA and found that Thailand's GDP could increase by US$7.967 billion (about 254.944 billion baht), or a rise of 1.97% while Asean GDP would rise by $39.361 billion, up 1.6%.

Meanwhile, the pact could boost Canada's GDP by $5.104 billion (163.328 billion baht), an increase of 0.3%.

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

According to Ms Rachada, the Asean-Canada FTA can create a linkage of Thailand's supply chain to North America or a gateway to the regions that Thailand has yet to ink FTAs with.

Promising exports include farm products and processed farm products, rubber products and machines.

Key import products from Canada include pork, frozen fish, wheat and wood furniture.

Ms Rachada noted the FTA may cause drastic competition for the farm, industry and service sectors, urging entrepreneurs to speed up upgrading their quality standards; intellectual property protection, online trading, labour rights and environmental protection.

Thailand currently has 13 FTAs in place with 18 nations.

In a separate development, the cabinet yesterday approved a framework of the country's 13th national economic and social development plan, which spans 2023 to 2027.

The new plan aims to transform Thailand from natural resource-based industries towards a knowledge-based or high value-added economy that is environmentally friendly and upgrade the manufacturing sector to higher value-added industries such as the bio-, circular and green economic model.

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