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Thailand signs FTA with NZ

Bangkok Post

Thailand signs FTA with NZ

20 April 2005


Thailand signed a free trade agreement with New Zealand yesterday.

The signing ceremony at Government House was witnessed by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and visiting New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Mr Thaksin thanked New Zealand for finishing the drafting of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPSS) for Thai longan, and expressed hope there would soon be additional SPSS for other Thai fruits, such as lychee and mangosteen, so as to ease their access to the New Zealand market.

Mr Thaksin said the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) agreement to liberalise trade in goods between the two countries would benefit Thailand in terms of increased access to the New Zealand market which was known for its high standard of sanitation.

``The access to the New Zealand market would be a good reference for Thai products to gain access to other countries which also have a high sanitation standard. Its high standard would also help improve production and quality of Thai products,’’ he said.

Mr Thaksin said the CEP would make both countries more competitive in the global market with the comprehensive liberalisation of trade in goods, with a substantial proportion of tariffs to be eliminated. An agreement on liberalising trade in services would be covered within three years.

Ms Clark said the CEP would bring immediate benefits to many sectors of New Zealand’s industry which faced high tariffs, including its dairy industry which constituted 58% of New Zealand’s export to Thailand. Also, the tariff for carrot exports from New Zealand _ now set at 40% _ would be eliminated on July 1.

She offered New Zealand’s expertise to help Thailand in adjusting strategy for its dairy industry in order to alleviate adverse impacts from the CEP.

According to the free trade agreement, New Zealand will eliminate duties on 5,878 Thai products while Thailand will do the same for 2,978 export items from New Zealand on July 1.

New Zealand will scrap duties on another 697 items by 2010, and on 858 products on the sensitive list including textiles, clothing and shoes by 2015.

Thailand will cut import levies on 1,961 remaining products within five years while duties on 520 products on the sensitive list, such as cow milk and butter, will be abolished by 2015.

Both countries also signed three other agreements on labour, environment and a working holiday scheme in which 100 young people from each country may live and work in the other for 12 months.