Slew of FTA negotiations set to take place next year

Slew of FTA negotiations set to take place next year

Thailand aims to embark on talks on new free trade agreements with the European Union (EU), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and vows to accelerate ongoing FTA talks with Turkey, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said under the department's working plan in 2022, it targets to kick off talks on new FTAs and speed up ongoing negotiations with potential trading partners like Turkey, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to boost trade and investments.

The EAEU consists of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, while Efta comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

"Next year, the department aims to expedite talks and the conclusion of the negotiations on the Thailand-Turkey, Thailand-Pakistan and Thailand-Sri Lanka pacts as soon as possible," she said. "The department also intends to rev up the Asean-Canada FTA negotiations."

The cabinet early this month approved the negotiation framework for the Asean-Canada FTA, hoping the pact will help open the gateway for Thailand into North America.

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 and sanitary standards; practices on trade rules, services and investment; intellectual property, labour and environmental protection; trade competition and 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$7.96 billion (about 254.9 billion baht), or a rise of 1.97% while Asean GDP would rise by $39.3 billion, up 1.6%.

Meanwhile, the pact could boost Canada's GDP by $5.1 billion (163.3 billion baht), an increase of 0.3%.

According to Mrs Auramon, her department will bank on the Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meetings with key trading partners to help address trade barriers and create closer cooperation in economics and trade.

Thailand will host the JTC meetings with at least 10 trading partners in 2022 -- Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Bhutan and the Maldives.

Thailand is scheduled to join the JTC meetings hosted by trading partners such as China and Bangladesh next year.

The JTC meetings will offer a good opportunity and venue for Thailand and trading partners to discuss and increase economic cooperation on trade, investment, trade facilitation and the elimination of trade barriers between trading partners, said Mrs Auramon.

Thailand currently has 13 FTAs in place with 18 nations.

In the first nine months of this year, Thailand saw trade value with 18 FTA partners including Asean, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, Chile, Peru, India and Hong Kong total $253.2 billion, a rise of 25.2% year-on-year, accounting for 63.6% of Thailand's total trade.

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