By THE NATION
“In 2005, Thailand signed the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement [TAFTA] and the Thailand-New Zealand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement [TNZEP], which erected tariff barriers on certain agricultural produce in order to protect domestic products,” she said. “The agreements will, however, gradually lower the tariff and limits over the years until fully free trade conditions are achieved, meaning unlimited quantities of the products can be imported free of tariff.”
In 2020, onions and potatoes as well as their seeds from Australia and New Zealand will become free of import tariff under TAFTA and TNZEP, therefore the Cabinet has ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to draw up regulations for importers of these produce, as follows:
➤ Importers of onions and potatoes as well as their seeds must be a juristic person registered as an importer of the respective produce with the Department of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce. The registration must be renewed annually.
➤ Importers must apply for certificate of import tax exemption under the free trade agreement.
➤ Importers must use those produce for their own manufacturing and processing. Resale and transfer of the produce is not allowed.
➤ The produce must be processed at Customs checkpoints that have plant, food and drug quarantine stations.
Ratchada further added that the Office of Agricultural Economics had studied the impact of free trade of these products and concluded that it should not pose negative effects on domestic farmers. “Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture has been urging local farmers to improve their product quality using new technologies through the smart farming initiative, which should help boost their competitiveness against imported products.”