Thai commerce chief working to pump up shipments

Thai commerce chief working to pump up shipments

Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai has pledged to expedite efforts to stimulate exports, scheduling a visit to Henan province to meet with Chinese executives today and discussing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week.

He said the ministry hopes to achieve positive export results in the first quarter. Thai exports contracted 1% last year to US$285 billion (9.80 trillion baht). The Commerce Ministry set a target to grow exports 1.99% this year.

Speaking after meeting with commercial attachés from 28 global offices who travelled to bring investors to participate in the 69th Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair, Mr Phumtham said he is travelling to Henan today to explore avenues for increasing trade cooperation.

Then he heads to the UAE to attend the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, in Abu Dhabi from Feb 26-29. While there, Mr Phumtham said he would take the opportunity to engage in bilateral discussions with the UAE to expand cooperation in trade and investment, aiming to create an export market for Thai agricultural goods, automobiles, electronics, gems and jewellery.

He said he also wants to follow up on FTA negotiations between Thailand and the UAE. The two countries have engaged in four rounds of negotiations.

Discussions in the trade negotiations committee meetings include both the heads of delegations and working groups, comprising nine subcommittees: trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, trade remedies, trade in services and digital trade, intellectual property, technical barriers to trade, health and plant health measures, and legal issues.

Studies indicate establishing an FTA between Thailand and the UAE will expand trade and investment between both through market access, facilitation measures, and the reduction or elimination of trade barriers, increasing Thai exports by $190-243 million (6.65-8.50 billion baht). Sectors expected to benefit include food, textiles and apparel, products made from animal skins, wood, rubber, plastics, chemicals, electrical and electronic appliances, automobiles and auto parts. Service sectors such as transport, finance and business services are also expected to benefit.

The UAE is Thailand's sixth-largest trading partner globally and ranks first in the Middle East. In 2023, two-way trade value tallied $19.5 billion, with exports valued at $3.23 billion, up 1.14%, while imports totalled $16.3 billion, a 5.62% gain from the previous year.

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