Thailand is gearing up for the resumption of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union (EU) after the talks were suspended in 2014 due to the coup. The talks should be completed in 2025, said Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai.
Mr Phumtham said on Saturday he had discussed the matter with 39 representatives of the EU-Asean Business Council (EU-ABC) and the European Association for Business and Commerce (EABC) at the ministry.
Attendees represented 24 European-based companies with production based in Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia, including Airbus, Standard Chartered Plc, Michelin, DHL, and Prudential Financial Inc.
According to the EU website, the negotiations off in 2013 but paused after the military coup in Thailand in 2014.
A resumption of talks was approved by the council in 2019, as the EU took steps towards broadening its engagement with Thailand. The EU and Thailand then announced the relaunch of negotiations in March.
Mr Phumtham said sustainability will be at the heart of the agreement, which aims to boost trade and investment by addressing issues such as market access for goods, services, investment, the protection of intellectual property rights, and removal of obstacles to digital trade and trade in energy and raw materials.
European business representatives backed the FTA negotiations, with the hope of seeing speedy results.
EU countries are Thailand's fourth largest trading partners, following China, America, and Japan. Thailand's export values to the EU during the first 10 months of this year were $18.2 billion, 4.42% lower than in 2022, with the main exports being computer parts, air conditioner parts, jewellery, electronic boards, and rubber products.
Imports were worth $16.7 billion, 9.94% higher, comprising mainly pharmaceutical items, electronic mechanics, and medical equipment.
Meanwhile, Thai trade representative Naruemon Phinyosinwat held talks with the American ambassador to Thailand, Robert F Godec, on joint investments between both countries.
Both countries plan to invest in the Green Investment Fund, as well as the medical research centre and agricultural developments.
Mr Godec said he appreciated Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin discussing investment in Thailand with at least 10 American investors during his visit to the US during the 2023 Apec Summit in San Francisco from Nov 12–19, Ms Nauremon said.