Thailand, Bhutan prepare for trade talks
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Thailand, Bhutan prepare for trade talks

Meeting to open in Thimphu today

Thailand and Bhutan are preparing to hold talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) during the 5th Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting this month, which could help boost bilateral trade to US$120 million.

Deputy Commerce Minister Napintorn Srisunpang said the ministry is preparing to lead Thailand's high-level delegation to attend the 5th JTC meeting and first round of FTA negotiations in Thimphu, Bhutan from May 15-17, in response to an invitation from Bhutan's Minister of Industry, Commerce and Employment Namgyal Dorji.

The main objective of the meeting is to discuss ways to increase bilateral trade and investment, promote economic cooperation in various sectors including tourism, handicrafts and agriculture, and share technical experience, in which Thailand has potential such as the development of geographical indication products, and sanitary and phytosanitary standards in order to facilitate and promote bilateral trade of agricultural products.

In addition, Thailand will sign a letter of intent with Bhutan to commence FTA negotiations following the JTC meeting.

Mr Napintorn will also witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Sustainable Arts and Crafts Institute of Thailand and the Department of Media, Creative Industry and Intellectual Property of Bhutan to promote cooperation in the development of handicraft products.

"This meeting will foster trade and economic cooperation in areas of mutual benefit. Bhutan is a potential market for Thai exports in the long term due to its continued economic development as it exited the list of least developed countries in 2023," Mr Napintorn said.

He affirmed that Thailand and Bhutan view an FTA as an important mechanism for enhancing bilateral trade and investment, reaching the target of $120 million by 2025.

For the first three months of 2024, the value of two-way trade between Thailand and Bhutan tallied $3.06 million.

Thai exports were valued at $3.03 million, while imports were valued at $30,000.

Key exports include computers and computer parts, textiles, wheat, electrical appliances and dried fruits.

Key imports include aviation equipment and components, metal products, fine arts and cordyceps.

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