Thailand and UAE launch first free trade agreement

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Thailand and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) revealed the launch of their first free trade agreement (FTA) on Tuesday. The FTA aims to create new opportunities for trade, services, and investment between the two nations, expecting to boost bilateral trade by 10% within the first year of implementation.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit and the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, announced the agreement after a teleconference. Discussions progressed rapidly between the two nations following Laksanawisit’s official visit to the UAE earlier this year.

Negotiations for the Thailand-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement took place over three months, leading to talks scheduled for May 16-18 in Dubai. In this significant meeting, high-ranking government officials participated, led by the director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations.

The department head was appointed to lead the delegation, aiming to finalise the agreement within six months or by the end of this year. According to Laksanawisit, this FTA has the potential to become one of the fastest negotiations in history, taking only nine months to complete. Following the conclusion of talks, both sides will spend another six months for internal procedures and seek cabinet and parliament approval. If parliament approves, the FTA is expected to be enforced by mid-next year.

Upon implementation, several products are expected to benefit almost instantly, including canned food, processed seafood, textiles, clothing, blankets, rubber products, automotive products, air conditioners, electrical appliances, and leather products. Furthermore, Thailand’s service sector will prosper from health tourism, logistics, and transportation.

Currently, the UAE is Thailand’s sixth-largest trading partner globally and its top partner in the Middle East. In 2022, the total value of two-way trade between the countries was US$20.8 billion, marking a 73.9% increase compared to the previous year.

Thai exports to the UAE accounted for US$3.42 billion, with key products including cars, equipment, components, air conditioning units, jewellery, telecom equipment, phones, and wood. Meanwhile, UAE imports totalled US$17.4 billion, with significant contributions from products such as crude oil, refined oil, natural gas, mineral ores, scrap metal, metal products, diamonds, jewellery, silver, and gold bars.

This year, Thailand aims to elevate exports to the UAE by 25%, reports Bangkok Post.

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