Bangkok ready to host talks with Efta

Bangkok ready to host talks with Efta

Chotima: Aiming for deal this year
Chotima: Aiming for deal this year

Thailand is set to host the eighth round of talks for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Free Trade Association (Efta) in Bangkok from Jan 30 to Feb 2, aiming to conclude negotiations by the middle of this year.

According to Chotima Iemsawasdikul, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, the process will involve meetings at the head of delegation level and sub-group meetings of 11 expert committees.

"The FTA negotiations with Efta are considered crucial by the government to expand trade and investment opportunities, strengthening the country's competitive edge," said Ms Chotima.

She said she would head the negotiations along with Markus Schlagenhof, the ambassador and delegate of the Federal Council for Trade Agreement and head of the World Trade Division in the Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate of Switzerland.

The 11 expert committee meetings are slated to cover several topics, comprising: trade in goods; rules of origin; trade remedies; trade in services; investment; government procurement; intellectual property; trade and sustainable development; general provisions, final provisions and institutional provisions; cooperation and capacity building; and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Efta comprises four countries: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Efta is Thailand's 10th-largest trading partner. For the first nine months of last year, trade with Efta amounted to US$9.17 billion, accounting for 1.73% of Thailand's total global trade.

Thailand exported $3.97 billion worth of goods to Efta and imported goods valued at $5.19 billion.

Key exports include gems and jewellery, watches and parts, iron and steel, air conditioners and parts, and travel-related products.

Key imports include precious stones, silver and gold bars, watches and components, meat, and medical and pharmaceutical products.

Studies by the Commerce Ministry suggest establishing an FTA between Thailand and Efta will increase GDP by 0.18%, roughly equivalent to $886 million.

Exports are projected to increase by 0.14%, or $405 million, and imports by 0.22%, roughly $615 million.

Thai agricultural and food products expected to benefit from this agreement include rice, maize, processed food, pet food, tropical fruit, flour, vegetable oil, processed chicken, sugar, noodles, canned fruit and vegetables, and fruit juices.

Furthermore, industrial goods such as clothes, automobiles and auto parts, precious stones and jewellery, as well as service segments such as tourism, finance, telecom, healthcare, clean energy and professional services are predicted to benefit from an FTA.

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