Thailand aims for early 2024 Efta trade negotiations wrap-up

Mrs. Auramon Supthaweethum, Image via Facebook, Auramon Supthaweethum

Thailand plans to wrap trade negotiations with Efta nations by early next year appears to be the key objective for Thailand’s trade representatives. The chief negotiator, Auramon Supthaweethum, who is also the director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations, shared that the recent two-level discussions are taking place in Oslo, Norway.

The fifth round of the Thai-Efta FTA negotiations has started, and both parties are in the process of settling the remaining issues and aiming for an accelerated joint resolution. These negotiations are believed to be at the halfway point, and the goal is to conclude them within the first quarter of 2024.

In this round, negotiators and sub-groups from both parties are involved in the talks. Heading the Thai delegation is Auramon, while Efta is represented by Markus Schlagenhof, the organisation’s spokesman and Federal Council for Trade Agreements delegate from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

There are 12 working groups collaborating in the discussions: trade in goods; rules of origin; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; technical barriers to trade; trade in services; investment; e-commerce; government procurement; intellectual property rights; sustainable trade and development; dispute settlement; and cooperation and capacity building.

The Efta comprises four countries: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Thailand and Efta launched talks on a prospective FTA in June last year after initial discussions from 2005 to 2006 were stalled.

On average, the annual trade between Thailand and Efta from 2018 to 2022 amounted to US$9.85 billion. In 2022, Efta was Thailand’s 14th-largest trading partner, with a total trade value of US$11.5 billion, a 54% year-on-year increase. The trade value between both parties reached US$3.04 billion in the first four months of this year.

Thailand’s exports to Efta were worth US$1.83 billion, which showed a 32.9% decline compared to the previous year. In contrast, imports, amounting to US$1.2 billion, decreased by 28.9%. Notable Thai exports to the Efta region include gems and jewellery, watches, travel goods, automobiles, electrical appliances, plastic products, cosmetics, and skincare products. On the other hand, imports from Efta mainly consist of precious stones, gold bars, pharmaceuticals, medical products, fertilisers, machinery, scientific instruments, and electrical equipment, reports Bangkok Post.

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