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The Thaiger | 24 January 2023
EU ready to conclude free-trade agreement with Thailand
by Bob Scott
The European Union is ready to open free-trade agreement (FTA) talks with Thailand again after an eight-year political impasse.
Thailand’s Commerce Minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, will head to Brussels tomorrow for a two-day business trip to accelerate talks on an FTA with the EU.
Jurin states that a Thai-EU FTA is a highly sought-after deal by the private sector, but it remains a distant goal, Bangkok Post reported.
“The Thai-EU FTA, once implemented, will definitely increase trade volumes between Thailand and the EU and expand trade opportunities and Thai export products.”
The EU is Thailand’s fifth largest trading partner, following ASEAN, China, the United States, and Japan. However, negotiations for an FTA with the EU were put on hold after the 2014 political coup in Thailand, as the EU protested against what it saw as the suspension of democracy.
In 2022, the total trade volume between Thailand and the EU was US$41 billion, representing 6.95% of Thailand’s overall trade.
Thai exports to the EU totalled US$17.7 billion, with key products including computers and computer equipment, gems and jewellery, air-conditioners, rubber products, and electronic circuit boards.
Imports from the EU reached US$18.2 billion, comprising vital products such as machinery and its components, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electrical machinery, scientific and medical equipment, and related tools. Jurin said…
“Currently, we see it as proper to start the official negotiations on the Thai-EU FTA.”
Jurin will have a meeting with Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commissioner and executive vice-president of the European Commission for an Economy that Works for People, in Brussels tomorrow.
The 66 year old stated that he will be representing Thailand to convey the country’s political intentions and readiness to move forward with the FTA talks with the EU.
“If the EU agrees, both countries will be able to resume their respective negotiating procedures.”
Thailand currently has 14 FTAs in place with 18 countries, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which came into effect at the beginning of last year.
On December 15 last year, Thailand and the EU signed the Thai-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) to increase bilateral cooperation.
The pact focuses on enhancing political dialogue on global issues and expanding cooperation in various policy areas such as the environment, energy, climate change, transport, science and technology, trade, employment and social affairs, human rights, education, agriculture, non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, the fight against corruption and organized crime, migration, and culture.
Additionally, the agreement would also make the Thai economy more competitive as it adapts to global developments, and serves as a foundation for negotiations to establish an FTA between Thailand and the EU and as a platform for knowledge sharing for projects such as the universal healthcare scheme.