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Department seeks to speed up free trade negotiations

Bangkok Post - 9 May 2024

Department seeks to speed up free trade negotiations
By Phusadee Arunmas

The Department of Trade Negotiations is pushing for free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with trading partners to expand trade and investment opportunities as well as strengthen the economy.

Director-general Chotima Iemsawasdikul said the agenda for the second half includes concluding Thailand-Efta (European Free Trade Association) negotiations by the end of the year (a 10th round is scheduled for August in Switzerland), the third round of Thailand-EU FTA talks in June in Belgium, and discussing an FTA with South Korea in the middle of this year, with talks expected to conclude by the end of 2025 or early 2026.

Others include a bilateral meeting on enhancing trade and economic partnership between Thailand and Saudi Arabia in Bangkok and the 10th session of the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement-Trade Negotiating Committee in Vietnam.

Thailand will host the 8th round of the Asean-Canada FTA in Bangkok, the 9th round of the Asean-China FTA and the initial negotiations for an economic partnership agreement with South Korea in Bangkok.

"The department has a policy to expedite FTA negotiations with key trading partners in order to expand trade and investment opportunities and enhance the country’s competitiveness," Ms Chotima said.

"This is in line with its policy of proactive economic diplomacy, trade and investment facilitation, and FTA negotiations [covering 80% of trade with the world by 2027] for the strong growth of the Thai economy."

Thailand has 14 FTAs with 18 trading partners, while it concluded FTA negotiations with Sri Lanka on Feb 3.

Trade negotiations with the Efta and the EU are continuing, while upgrades to existing FTAs in the Asean framework include China, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand to facilitate trade and investment for Thai businesses.

The Thai-South Korea economic partnership agreement (EPA) was signed on March 28, serving as a bilateral FTA between Thailand and South Korea.

In addition, Thailand signed a letter of intent with Bangladesh to commence FTA negotiations by the end of this year.

Ms Chotima said Bangladesh has enormous capacity to support Thailand’s effort to expand trade and investment in South Asia.

She said the department plans to host joint trade committee (JTC) meetings this year with key trading partners such as Bhutan, Malaysia, the UK and China.

JTCs act as platforms for high-ranking officials to have regular discussions in order to cooperate on trade and investment. They involve formulating trade and investment plans, setting trade volume targets and solving trade issues.

 source: Bangkok Post