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Govt keen to quickly wrap up FTA with EU, says top negotiator

The Nation, Bangkok

Govt keen to quickly wrap up FTA with EU, says top negotiator

By Petchanet Pratruangkrai

29 July 2013

Thailand is eager to wrap up a free-trade agreement with the European Union after the bloc began pursuing bilateral deals with many major markets.

"The EU has paid a lot of attention to free-trade talks with many countries including China, the US, Japan, Canada and Asean. If Thailand finalises the FTA with the EU, the country could benefit from open trade earlier than other countries," Piramol Charoenpao, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said last week.

Thailand has to continue its dialogue with the EU soon, she said. The second round will be held in Bangkok in September.

If a pact is clinched with the EU, many exports from Thailand will have a brighter future, such as automobiles, electronic devices and service businesses.

The sooner Thailand can seal an FTA with the EU, the sooner Thailand can ensure that its shipments would continue to grow amid the tapering of trade growth of the common market and its plan to cut tax privileges for many goods next year.

The EU will reduce tax breaks for many products under its revision of the Generalised System of Preferences on January 1, 2015.

The EU has recently discussed promoting trade and investment with China. The two markets will lower trade barriers and increase two-way investment. The EU also called on China to liberalise its finance and telecommunications industries.

The EU has agreed on a negotiation framework with the US for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership by emphasising three key issues. They are market access, trade obstructions and non-tariff barriers, and regulations that comply with international standards, including intellectual property rights, trade and sustainable development, and trade policy. The two economic giants aim to complete the talks by the end of next year.

The EU kicked off talks with Japan in April. They are now discussing a second round of talks. The discussions cover climate change, sustainable development, exchange of information and technology, and opposition to nuclear weapons.

The EU is scheduled to finalise its talks on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada this year.

The EU has a strong interest in tying up with Asean, as it sees opportunities in many industries.

Asean is considered as an important trade partner and source of investment. The EU is negotiating trade deals with many countries in Asean, including Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. It already has a free-trade deal with Singapore.