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Thailand Trade Talks with Australia Wraps Up

Bangkok Post | 21 April 2004

Thailand Trade Talks with Australia Wraps Up

By Phusadee Arunmas, Bangkok Post, Thailand Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Thailand and Australia have completed talks on establishing a bilateral free trade area (FTA) agreement, and the pact will go before the Thai cabinet for approval within the next two weeks, according to Deputy Commerce Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal.

Mr Pongsak said the agreement stipulated that Australia would cut import tariffs to zero on all agreed items over the next five years (2009) while Thailand would cut import tariffs to zero on a gradual basis to 2025. The treaty is set to take effect on Jan 1, 2005.

"After the first of January next year, Thailand will cut import tariffs to zero for 49 percent of 5,007 product items imported from Australia, which accounts for 78 percent of the total import value of Australian goods. In turn, Australia will cut the tariffs on 83 percent of the 6,000 product items imported from Thailand, accounting for 83 percent of the total import value of Thai goods," he said.

Tariffs on sensitive items such as dairy products, grapes, wine, oranges, textiles and garments, processed potatoes and publications will be gradually cut to zero by 2009. For goods classified as highly sensitive such as pork, beef, milk, tea, coffee and maize, the gradual reduction to zero will be completed over the next 15 years.

Tariffs on specially sensitive products such as skimmed milk will be phased out over the next 20 years.

According to Mr Pongsak, Australia also agreed to set up a committee to handle SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) measures and settle the issue over the next two years.

Under the FTA pact, Mr Pongsak said Australia would also allow Thai nationals to invest in services related to legal advice, architecture, auto repair, telecommunications, education, mining, and consumer product manufacturing, while Thailand would allow Australian nationals to control up to 60 percent of large project ventures, such as in international exhibition centre, convention centres, infrastructure, universities and hotels.