MCOT | 4 April 2007
Thailand eyes expansion of FTA deal to India
BANGKOK, April 4 (TNA) — Thailand is ready to expand the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to India if the ASEAN-India FTA talks fail to reach an agreement, a Thai senior official said Wednesday.
Director General of the Trade Negotiations Department, Chutima Bunyapraphasara, said the ASEAN-India FTA talks, carried on for more than four years, will resume for the final round in July.
The talks will definitely be the last if ASEAN and India cannot strike a deal in the July talks, she said, adding that it will be a good opportunity for Thailand to individually hold talks with India to expand the FTA. The two countries signed an agreement on FTA framework in 2004.
Trade negotiators of both countries have been discussing the list of goods and services to be included in the FTA framework.
Whether or not the bilateral discussion will continue depends on the results of the ASEAN-India FTA talks, she said.
India and Thailand signed a protocol in 2004 to implement the early harvest scheme (EHS) under the FTA framework.
Under the agreed framework, tariffs on 82 categories of goods will be gradually reduced from Sept 1, 2004 and the tariffs will be cut to zero on Sept 1, 2006.
Ms.Chutima said Commerce Minister Krirkkrai Jirapaet will lead a group of more than 30 Thai business leaders to visit India on April 10-13 to strengthen business ties between the two countries as India has been one of Thailand’s major trading partners.
The visit marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic and trade ties between Thailand India, she said.
Since signing the agreement on FTA framework with India, trade volumes of Thailand and India have reached US$3.4 billion. Thailand has exported US$1.8 billion worth of goods to India while imports total at US$1.6 billion.
Mr. Krikkrai is scheduled to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Kamal Nath and meet executives from leading Indian companies to discuss bilateral economic and trade cooperations. The FTA issue will also be tabled for discussion while a memorandum of understanding on Thai-Indian industrial standard products will be signed.