Department upbeat on negotiations

Department upbeat on negotiations

Trade volume between Thailand and Efta amounted to $7.51 billion in 2021, representing 1.39% of Thailand's total trade.  Apichart Jinakul
Trade volume between Thailand and Efta amounted to $7.51 billion in 2021, representing 1.39% of Thailand's total trade.  Apichart Jinakul

The Trade Negotiations Department targets concluding the negotiation framework on a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU this year and wrapping up FTA negotiations with Turkey and Pakistan.

The department also aims to finish an information paper on the scope of the proposed FTA with the European Free Trade Association (Efta) next month. Efta comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

According to the department's director-general, Auramon Supthaweethum, it is scheduled to submit the information paper on an FTA with Efta to the cabinet meeting for consideration within the first quarter or early second quarter this year.

Efta was Thailand's 12th largest trading partner in 2020. Bilateral trade between Thailand and Efta totalled US$10.4 billion in 2020, with exports fetching $7.8 billion and imports $2.65 billion.

Thailand-Efta trade volume in 2021 stood at $7.51 billion, representing 1.39% of Thailand's total trade. Of the total, exports from Thailand accounted for $1.7 billion and imports $5.81 billion.

Important export items included gems and jewellery, watches and parts, automobiles and parts, while prominent import products comprised jewellery, gems, silver bars, gold, machinery and components.

According to Mrs Auramon, FTA negotiations between Thailand and the EU are progressing as scheduled, while the department is speeding up FTA talks with Turkey and Pakistan.

Thailand is preparing to host the eighth round of FTA talks with Turkey in March and April, with key agenda items including market access for products and pending chapters of the agreement.

"The goal is to conclude negotiations with Turkey this year," she said.

Regarding the FTA negotiations with Pakistan, Mrs Auramon said the two dialogue parties have settled most of the chapters, with the exception of those related to market access.

The department is scheduling an appointment with Pakistan to expedite the next round of talks to settle pending issues, she said.

The department's study found the Pakistan-Thailand Free Trade Agreement, once established, would increase Thailand's economic growth by 0.18-0.32 percentage points, or about $200-800 million a year. The pact would enable Thailand to use Pakistan as a production base and a springboard to tap the markets of South Asia, the Middle East and China, according to the study.

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

Thailand has 14 FTAs with 18 countries, with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which came into force early this year, the latest trade pact.

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