Sontirat to lead trade delegation to Vietnam next month

Sontirat to lead trade delegation to Vietnam next month

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong
Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong

Non-tariff barriers on Thai-built vehicles will be high on the agenda when Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong leads the Thai delegation to a two-day Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting on bilateral trade with Vietnam next month in Hanoi.

Mr Sontirat said the 3rd meeting of the Thailand-Vietnam Joint Trade Committee on Aug 2-3 will be held in parallel with business matching talks between Thai and Vietnamese entrepreneurs.

At least 30 Thai companies from sectors such as food, beverage, health,  cosmetics, packaging and energy and industrial products were expected to take part in business matching activities, the minister said.

The JTC is a mechanism for bilateral trade talks to boost cooperation and solve investment and trade issues. The ministry hopes to raise bilateral trade value with Vietnam to US$20 billion in 2020, he said.

Topics for discussion include trade facilitation, investment promotion activities, collaboration on farm produce, intellectual property cooperation, transport connectivity, banking and energy, Mr Sontirat said.

Vietnam's non-tariff related barriers on completely built-up (CBU) cars from Thailand are among key issues to be thrashed out at the meeting.

Thailand is pressuring Vietnam to eliminate its barriers on CBUs from Thailand.

Thai exporters suspended car shipments after Vietnam tightened inspections of CBUs at seaports earlier this year. CBU cars are required to undergo tests in Vietnam to ensure they meet environmental and emissions standards.

Import duties on Thai-made products have been eliminated under the Asean Free Trade Area.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiation Department, previously said that Thailand will move forward in negotiations with Vietnam at every meeting session and that Vietnamese testing must comply with mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) for the inspections.

Vietnam has only one automotive testing agency, which takes roughly 30 days to complete the procedure and clear a vehicle through customs.

Thailand, by contrast, has many agencies to test imported CBU cars under the Thailand Automotive Industry and Thai Industrial Standards Institute.

“Once Vietnam agrees on the MRAs, the next step will be to test the cars ourselves before making shipments to Vietnam,” Ms Auramon said.

Thailand would propose MRA procedures at the JTC meeting next month.

Vietnam is Thailand's second-largest trading partner in Asean, and its fifth largest on the global trade arena, with bilateral trade volume averaging US$13.14 billion annually between 2013 and 2017.

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