Thai-EU FTA talks set to roll, aiming for a trade-tastic deal within two years

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Talks on a free-trade agreement between Thailand and the European Union (Thai-EU FTA) are set to kick off next week, to finalise the deal within a two-year timeframe. The Department of Trade Negotiations, under the Thai Commerce Ministry, is spearheading the negotiations.

Auramon Supthaweethum, the department’s director-general, revealed that a team from various state agencies is being prepped for the first negotiation round in Brussels, Belgium, scheduled for September 18-22. She mentioned that this round would feature the head of delegation-level meetings and 19 expert-level subcommittee discussions.

The comprehensive subcommittees cover a wide range of areas including trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures, trade facilitation, trade remedies, sanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, services and investment trade, digital trade, intellectual property, competition, subsidies, government procurement, and more.

Representatives from key government agencies such as the Commerce Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, the Industry Ministry, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Labour Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry will be part of Thailand’s negotiation team.

The Institute of Future Studies for Development anticipates positive outcomes from the Thai-EU FTA. It predicts a 1.28% annual growth in Thailand’s GDP, a 2.83% annual increase in exports, a 2.81% annual rise in imports, and an overall boost in foreign investment and job creation. The institute also expects the FTA to enhance international standards in areas like intellectual property rights, labour rights, environmental standards, and sustainability.

Auramon emphasised the department’s commitment to engaging with stakeholders during the negotiations to achieve comprehensive and mutually beneficial outcomes.

Trade between Thailand and the EU during the first seven months of this year reached a value of US$24.7 billion. Thailand’s exports to the EU were worth US$12.9 billion, while imports from the EU were valued at US$11.8 billion. Key Thai exports include computers and components, air-conditioners and parts, jewellery, electronic circuit boards, and rubber products.

Conversely, Thailand’s major imports from the EU consist of machinery and components, pharmaceutical and medical products, chemicals, and electrical machinery and components, reported Bangkok Post.

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