Bangkok Post | 9 July 2012
Thailand-EU FTA talks to go through Parliament
The scope of talks for the Thailand-EU free trade agreement will likely be concluded and submitted for parliamentary endorsement next month.
It will take around 1-2 months to conclude the scope of the talks with the European Union (EU), said Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom.
He hopes the ministry can also raise existing trade disagreements such as the possibility of Thailand being graduated from tariff privileges under the Generalised System of Preference (GSP).
Srirat Rastapana, director-general of Trade Negotiations Department, said although both sides have held several rounds of talks over the past two years, the scope needs to be approved by Thai parliament according to Section 190 of the Constitution.
She viewed the timing was good since the EU was keen to increase trade and investment cooperation in Asia and the FTA could help clear existing trade barriers.
The EU is the second largest investors in Thailand after Japan. Its investment totalled $1.52 billion in 2010, or 15.7% of total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Thailand, according to the Bank of Thailand.
The bloc is also the largest investor in Asean, with total investment of $17 billion in 2010, or 22.4% of total FDI in the region.
The EU had earlier sought negotiations for a multilateral FTA with Asean in May 2007. But after seven rounds of talks, both sides agreed to suspend the negotiations because the EU was not ready to embrace Myanmar. Besides, the economic development of Asean members was so varied they could not respond to the EU’s requests as a group.
Since then, the EU has adjusted its strategy to holding bilateral FTA negotiations with Asean members.
Its first target group is Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. The first FTA the EU will likely have in the region is with Singapore, possibly this year, followed by Malaysia in the following year. As well, Vietnam has already announced negotiations with the EU while the Philippines is in the study and preparation stage.
The EU’s FTA negotiations usually come as a comprehensive package covering market access, liberalisation in services, investment, customs and trade facilitation, rules of origin, safeguard measures, sanitary and phytosanitary and intellectual property, among others.