By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Thailand will carefully consider four sensitive issues under the talks for a Thailand-European Union Free-Trade Agreement to ensure that losses to the affected sectors are minimised and that Thai enterprises enjoy the greatest possible benefit.
The sensitive issues that the negotiation team will carefully study are: the impact of the EU’s plan to end Thailand’s eligibility for the Generalised System of Preferences next year; intellectual-property rights; tariff reductions on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes; and dispute-settlement mechanisms between government and private enterprises.
Olarn Chaipravat, chief of the Thailand Trade Representative Office and head of the Thai team negotiating with the EU, said the government would cautiously consider the four issues because they were of concern to both the public and private sectors.
The focus will be on how to avoid losses for Thailand in any eventual agreement. The working group will study in-depth the likely impact on all sectors involved and its findings used in the negotiations.
The first round of the Thailand-EU FTA talks is scheduled to be held from May 27-31 in Brussels.
The FTA is due to be concluded by 2015.
Previously, Thailand and the EU agreed to negotiate 14 issues. Those are liberalisation of trade in goods; rules of origin; customs procedures and trade facilitation; technical barriers to trade; trade remedies; sanitary and psyto-sanitary; services; investment; public procurement; intellectual-property rights; competition policy; dispute settlement; sustainable development and transparency; and general/institutional.
Thailand is responsible for preparing information on six issues, including the four issues of concern; environment and sustainable trading; and government procurement.