The Nation | January 12, 2012
Five-year trade plan focus
With global trade forecast to slow this year, the Trade Negotiations Department will prioritise Asean and six key Asian markets in its trade and investment plan for the next five years.
It will also expand free-trade agreement negotiations to new potential partners and continue driving multilateral trade talks under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the World Trade Organisation as key channels to promote trade growth.
Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the department, said yesterday that the promotion of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) would continue to be a focal point of Thailand’s export and investment promotion efforts.
"There are many uncertain factors influencing global trade growth. Thailand, as one of the world’s 20 largest trading nations, will continue to focus on promoting market liberalisation and support the elimination of non-tariff barriers to ensure trade growth," she said.
The department will this year emphasise raising awareness of the AEC among the private sector to ensure that Thai businesses and consumers fully benefit from the market liberalisation.
To support the plan, the department will propose an international trade blueprint for Thailand for 2012-2020, focusing on promoting the AEC agenda and positioning the Thai private sector to reap the greatest possible benefit from regional integration.
The draft plan, which aims to put Thailand among the world’s top-10 trading nations, will be submitted to the Cabinet next month.
According to the department, trade with Asean accounts for 19.8 per cent of the Kingdom’s total trading value. The region will continue to play an important role in the country’s trade and investment under the single-market scheme.
Six key trading partners - China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand - account for 36.8 per cent of Thailand’s total trade.
The department will concentrate on educating individual industries and clusters about the AEC so that farmers, producers and traders will be able to reap the highest benefit from Asean integration, said Srirat.
It will organise symposiums on AEC’s launch in 2015 and beyond to educate private enterprises about the regional integration as well as exchange knowledge and strategies to ensure the country’s growth within the single market.
The department has also launched a website, www.thailandaec.com, and opened the AEC Information Centre to provide information and educate Thai enterprises about the common market.
Moreover, to promote trade growth, the department is targeting wrapping up comprehensive free-trade pacts covering trade in goods, services and investment with India, Peru and Chile.
Srirat said those comprehensive agreements should be fully implemented early next year. Thailand has already partly liberalised trade in goods with India and Peru.
In addition, the department plans to seek Parliament’s approval to launch free-trade negotiations with the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (Efta) countries, as they are considered major markets for enhancing trade and investment. The Efta bloc comprises Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The Trade Negotiations Department will also conduct a feasibility study on whether Thailand should join the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks with nine other countries, led by the United States.
To promote trade with other markets, the department will also form a joint agreement to promote trade growth with selected partners. The targeted markets include Canada, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, South America’s Mercosur, South Africa and the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China).