Thailand is in talks with South Korea to explore the possibility of establishing a free trade agreement (FTA).
According to Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, discussions were held with Changyong Ahn, director-general of the FTA Policy Bureau under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, in Seoul on Aug 25 to initiate negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement, also referred to as a bilateral FTA.
The proposal aims to build upon the existing Asean-South Korea FTA and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
"Thailand is studying the benefits and potential impacts of this proposal while preparing to gather public opinion and stakeholder feedback prior to submitting it to the commerce minister and cabinet for approval," she said.
"The FTA is expected to enhance trade and investment, attracting increased investments from South Korea into Thailand."
Mrs Auramon said South Korea already conducted relevant studies and discussions. Both parties are interested in the possibility of opening FTA negotiations, aiming to collaborate for mutual benefits, she said.
"This FTA would have the potential to cover Thai exports for which South Korea has not yet eliminated customs duties, including frozen and processed chicken, frozen and processed seafood, animal feed, tropical fruit (such as mangoes, guavas and mangosteens), cassava waste, sauces and seasonings, natural rubber, tyres and rubber gloves," said Mrs Auramon.
"This agreement could also help attract increased investments from South Korea to Thailand, including in the fields of electric vehicles, auto parts and information technology, while fostering cooperation in emerging areas such as digital trade and supply chains."
Last year, the value of trade between Thailand and South Korea totalled US$16.5 billion, divided into exports worth $6.40 billion and imports worth $10.1 billion.
Thailand posted a trade deficit of $3.71 billion last year.
During the first seven months of this year, the trade value between Thailand and South Korea totalled $8.99 billion.
Of the total, Thai exports to South Korea represented $3.72 billion and imports from South Korea were worth $5.27 billion.
Key Thai exports included raw sugar, refined oil products, rubber products, electronic circuits and aluminium products.