Negotiations for a free-trade agreement (FTA) between Thailand and the European Union (EU), commonly referred to as the Thai-EU FTA, are set to commence next week with the aim of finalizing the agreement within a two-year timeframe. The Department of Trade Negotiations, operating under the Thai Commerce Ministry, will oversee these negotiations.
Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General of the Department, disclosed that a team comprising representatives from various state agencies is being prepared for the first round of negotiations scheduled to take place in Brussels, Belgium, from September 18th to 22nd. This initial round will include high-level meetings and discussions by 19 expert-level subcommittees.
The comprehensive subcommittees have a broad spectrum of areas to cover, including trade in goods, rules of origin, customs procedures, trade facilitation, trade remedies, sanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, services and investment trade, digital trade, intellectual property, competition, subsidies, government procurement, and more.
Key government agencies such as the Commerce Ministry, Finance Ministry, Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, Industry Ministry, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, Labour Ministry, and Foreign Affairs Ministry will have representatives on Thailand's negotiation team.
The Institute of Future Studies for Development anticipates positive outcomes from the Thai-EU FTA, projecting a 1.28% annual growth in Thailand's GDP, a 2.83% annual increase in exports, a 2.81% annual rise in imports, and an overall boost in foreign investment and job creation. The institute also expects the FTA to elevate international standards in areas such as intellectual property rights, labor rights, environmental standards, and sustainability.
Auramon underscored the department's commitment to engaging with stakeholders throughout the negotiations to achieve comprehensive and mutually beneficial outcomes.
Trade between Thailand and the EU during the first seven months of this year amounted to a value of US$24.7 billion. Thailand's exports to the EU reached US$12.9 billion, while imports from the EU were valued at US$11.8 billion. Key Thai exports included computers and components, air-conditioners and parts, jewelry, electronic circuit boards, and rubber products. Conversely, Thailand's primary imports from the EU consisted of machinery and components, pharmaceutical and medical products, chemicals, and electrical machinery and components, as reported by Bangkok Post.