Thailand aims to finalise free-trade agreements with EFTA, Sri Lanka and UAE by mid-next year

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Thailand is keen to finalise free-trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by mid-next year, with the aim to boost trade and investment.

The potential FTA between Thailand and Sri Lanka is particularly appealing due to Sri Lanka’s strategic location in South Asia, with connections to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Furthermore, Sri Lanka’s economy is experiencing steady growth, remarked Auramon Supthaweethum, the director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations.

An FTA between Thailand and EFTA, comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, is viewed as significant for Thailand in terms of trading and sustainable development. Negotiations for such an agreement began in June last year, although previous negotiations between Thailand and EFTA occurred from 2005 to 2006 before coming to a halt. EFTA was Thailand’s 14th largest trading partner in 2022, and from 2018 to 2022, the average annual trade between Thailand and EFTA amounted to US$9.85 billion.

A proposed FTA between Thailand and the UAE would represent Thailand’s first trade agreement with a Middle Eastern nation. The two countries are set to launch FTA discussions this week, aiming to conclude negotiations within six months. The UAE is currently Thailand’s sixth-largest global trading partner and its most significant trading partner in the Middle East. In 2022, the value of goods traded between Thailand and the UAE stood at US$20.8 billion, representing a 73.9% YoY increase, spanning various sectors including cars, air conditioning units, and jewellery.

Meanwhile, an updated Asean-Australia-New Zealand FTA is anticipated to materialise by mid-next year. Concerning the Thai-EU FTA negotiations announced in March 2023, the Chief negotiators from both parties are scheduled to commence the first round of talks in September in Brussels to establish the negotiation framework and ensure a mutual understanding between the two sides, reports Bangkok Post.

Business News

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