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Deals with Peru, Chile progressing

Bangkok Post, Thailand

Deals with Peru, Chile progressing

By Nareerat Wiriyapong

23 May 2011

BIG SKY, MONTANA : The delayed free-trade area agreement between Thailand and Peru is likely to take effect in November, while an FTA with Chile should be concluded by mid-2012, says the Commerce Ministry.

The Thailand-Peru FTA is expected to be proposed to the new parliament in early October, she said, noting that Peru also is waiting for the outcome of its presidential election on June 5.

"Once the agreement is endorsed by parliament, the early-harvest programme that was already signed by the two countries should be implemented shortly, tentatively in November," Ms Srirat said.

The early harvest programme covers 5,962 products, representing 70% of goods traded between the two countries. Thai products that stand to benefit include pickup trucks, auto parts, rubber, plastic and home appliances, especially washing machines.

Thailand aims to expand the agreement with Peru into a complete FTA at a later stage, she said after meetings with Peruvian counterparts on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting.

Ms Srirat will travel to Chile after the Apec talks for a new round of FTA talks there. The pact with Chile will not have an early-harvest programme but is intended to be a comprehensive FTA that includes investment and service sector liberalisation.

Thailand and Chile have economies that complement each other. Chile has ample natural resources such as copper, minerals and wood used by Thai industries, Ms Srirat said.

Large Thai producers are eager for a pact with Chile because their plastic products cannot compete with those from the US, Korea, and China, she noted.

"Chile has a very open economy that is integrated with other Pacific allies including Peru, Panama and Colombia," she said. "There is growing demand from middle-class consumers in Chile for Thai products and the country could be a gateway to others in Latin America."

In 2010, bilateral trade with Chile totalled US$818.9 million, with Thailand enjoying a surplus of $209.4 million.