Thai exports to S Korea set to rocket under new RCEP


Growth in exports to South Korea is forecast to accelerate again this year making it one of Thailand’s top trading partners, the Department of International Trade Negotiations said on Monday. From January to November 2021, Thai exports to South Korea rose 39 per cent to US$5.373 billion year on year.

The biggest growth came in agricultural and processed agricultural exports, up 21 per cent to US$987 million, led by rubber (+62%), canned and processed seafood (+37%), sugar (+27%), cassava (+25%), and squid (+11%).

Meanwhile, industrial exports rose 37 per cent to $4.012 billion led by wood and wood products (+69%), computers, equipment and components (+60%), chemicals (+43%), circuit boards (+42%), and rubber products (+37%).

And with increased demand expected from its manufacturing sector this year, Thai businesses have an opportunity to expand exports to South Korea, said the department.

Thai exporters already benefit from zero tariffs on 90.6 per cent of goods shipped to South Korea under the Asean-South Korea free trade agreement (AKFTA), including automobiles, equipment and parts, electrical appliances, plastic products, rubber, frozen fish and shrimp meat and raw sugar.

And when the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) comes into force on February 1, Seoul will lift import tax on 90.7 per cent of listed products.

Also, South Korea is opening its market to Thai durian, mangosteen, guava, papaya and dates (current tariff 24-36%) and rubberwood (5%), cutting tariffs to zero by 2031.

Also gradually cut to zero by 2036 will be duties on canned sardines, processed tuna and processed seafood (now 20%), pet food (40.4%), dextrin and modified starch (100.6-192.8%) and tapioca starch (5%).

Thai tapioca exports will see their 20 per cent tariff and 40 per cent off-quota tax gradually reduced to zero by 2041.