Strides made in Pakistan, Turkey FTAs
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Strides made in Pakistan, Turkey FTAs

A man buys cherries in a market in Ankara, Turkey, one of two countries Thailand wants to pursue FTA talks with. REUTERS
A man buys cherries in a market in Ankara, Turkey, one of two countries Thailand wants to pursue FTA talks with. REUTERS

The cabinet Wednesday approved the frameworks for free trade agreement (FTA) talks with Pakistan and Turkey.

Athisit Chainuwat, deputy government spokesperson, said FTA talks with Pakistan could be settled by year-end, with the 10th round of talks set to be held.

Thailand and Pakistan launched FTA talks in 2015, with an eye to penetrating Pakistan's 200-million-strong market. The country is Thailand's second-biggest trade partner in South Asia after India.

Pakistan has embraced a "Look East" policy to forge closer trade ties with Asean countries. Pakistan is also located on China's Belt and Road trade route, which could help it become a logistics centre in the region and raw material supplier for Thai industries.

A study by the Fiscal Policy Research Institute estimated a FTA with Pakistan could boost Thai GDP growth by 0.08-0.32%, raise consumption by 0.09-0.35%, increase foreign investment in Thailand by 0.13-0.57% and lift exports by 0.10-0.41%.

Sectors expected to gain from a FTA include automotive and auto parts, leather and wood products, chemicals, rubber and plastics, tourism and health.

Meanwhile, Mr Athisit said Thailand is scheduled to host the 4th round of negotiations between with Turkey in the fourth quarter.

He said Turkey's economy is two times bigger than Thailand's, while the country could serve as a gateway to the Balkans, the EU and North Africa.

A study by the Fiscal Policy Research Institute expects a Thailand-Turkey FTA to boost the Thai economy by 0.02-0.04% and raise consumption by 0.02-0.05%, with foreign investment expected to grow by 0.03-0.06%.

Mr Athisit said Thailand and the two dialogue partners had concurred that the agreements should cover services, investment and other forms of cooperation to maximise the benefits of free trade.

Thailand has 13 FTAs in place, including the Asean-Hong Kong Free Trade Area, which was signed last November and is scheduled to take effect in January 2019.

Thailand is also conducting FTA talks with Sri Lanka.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director- general of the Trade Negotiations Department, recently said Thailand looks set to sign a strategic partnership deal with Sri Lanka, with an aim to raise bilateral trade value to US$1.5 billion (49.2 billion baht) by 2020.

The deal could possibly be signed in July or soon thereafter, once the cabinet gives the nod to the strategic partnership framework, soon to be proposed by the Commerce Ministry.

In a separate development, Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a government spokesman, Wednesday said the cabinet had approved setting up a revolving fund to promote both public and private investment.

The fund is intended to support mega-infrastructure and social projects whose returns are too low for private investors.

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