Bangkok Post - 01 November 2023
More trade talks with Europe group
By Phusadee Arunmas
The Commerce Ministry looks set to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Free Trade Association (Efta) in round 7, aiming to conclude the deal by mid-2024. Auramon Supthaweethum, director-generalof the Trade Negotiations Department, said she is preparing for a seventh round of negotiations with Efta from Nov 6-9 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Efta consists of four countries: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Mrs Auramon said this round of negotiations involves a meeting at the chief representative level, overseeing the overall negotiations and sub-group meetings of nine groups covering: trade in goods;rules of origin of goods; trade remedy measures; trade in services; investment; e-commerce; state procurement; technical cooperation and capacity building; and small and medium-sized enterprises.
In addition, there are two more sub-group meetings focusing on intellectual property and legal issues and dispute settlement in mid-November and early December, with the goal of summarising the negotiation results by mid-2024.
Initial studies suggest establishing an FTA between Thailand and Efta will increase Thai GDP by 0.179%, roughly equivalent to US$886 million, according to the ministry. Exports are projected to increase Thai GDP by 0.179%, roughly equivalent to US$886 million, according to the ministry. Exports are projected to increase by 0.142%, around $405 million, and imports by 0.224%, roughly $615 million.
Thai agricultural and food products expected to benefit from this agreement include rice, maize, processed food, pet food, tropical fruit, flour, vegetable oil, processed chicken, sugar, noodles, canned fruit and vegetables, and fruit juices.
Furthermore, industrial goods such as clothing, automobiles and auto parts, precious stones and jewellery, as well as service segments such as tourism, finance, telecom, healthcare, clean energy and professional services, are expected to benefit.
From January to September 2023, trade between Thailand and Efta amounted to $7.03 billion, with exports totalling $3.24 billion and imports tallying $3.79 billion. Key exports to Efta include precious stones and jewellery, watches and components, iron, air conditioners and parts, travel appliances and automobiles.
Imports from Efta include diamonds, pearls, gold and silver, watches and components, and animal meat.