Thailand is preparing to embark on talks regarding a free-trade agreement with the EU (Thai-EU FTA) next week, with the aim of concluding the deal within two years.
According to Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations under the Commerce Ministry, the ministry is preparing to lead a team of state agencies to negotiate the first round of the Thai-EU FTA, scheduled for Sept 18-22 in Brussels, Belgium. This will include meetings at the head of delegation level and 19 expert-level subcommittee meetings.
The 19 subcommittees encompass the areas of trade in goods; rules of origin; customs procedures and trade facilitation; trade remedies; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; technical barriers to trade; trade in services and investment; digital trade; intellectual property; competition and subsidies; and government procurement.
Other areas are trade and sustainable development; small and medium-sized enterprises; state-owned enterprises; energy and raw materials; sustainable food systems; transparency and good regulatory practices; dispute settlement; and preliminary provisions, general provisions, final provisions, provisions relating to institutions, and exceptions.
Thailand's negotiation team will consist of representatives from relevant government agencies, including the Commerce Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, the Industry Ministry, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Labour Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The Institute of Future Studies for Development, which has conducted a preliminary assessment of the benefits and impacts of the Thai-EU FTA, expects it to expand Thailand's GDP by 1.28% annually, increase exports by 2.83% annually, and raise imports by 2.81% annually. Furthermore, it will support foreign investment and job creation in Thailand while elevating international standards in related areas such as intellectual property rights, labour rights, environmental standards, and sustainability.
Ms Auramon said the department will engage in negotiations with stakeholders to ensure comprehensive and mutually beneficial outcomes.
During the first seven months of this year, trade between Thailand and the EU amounted to US$24.7 billion, with Thailand exporting goods worth $12.9 billion to the EU and importing goods valued at $11.8 billion from the EU.
Key Thai exports include computers and components, air-conditioners and parts, jewellery, electronic circuit boards, and rubber products. Key Thai imports include machinery and components, pharmaceutical and medical products, chemicals, and electrical machinery and components.