By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THE LONG-STALLED negotiations on an Asean-European Union free-trade agreement could be revived soon.
“Asean and the EU will soon study the possibility of resuming the talks, which should be joined by every Asean member state,” Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said yesterday.
“Each side will gather information from the past and will update information as well as find out any new issues that should be discussed as a priority for this FTA.”
She led the Thai delegation to the 13th AEM-EU Consultations between Asean economic ministers and the union in Malaysia last week.
The EU expressed its desire to resume the trade-liberalisation discussions with Asean countries that have been suspended since 2009.
Asean and EU had planned to start the FTA talks six years ago, but because of the unequal economic development of Asean countries, the EU proceeded to pursue bilateral deals with certain individual countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
During last week’s meeting, Asean and the EU also agreed on a new plan of cooperation in trade and investment for 2015-16, focusing on services, energy, air logistics, trade facilitation, customs procedures, investment and new trade issues. Both regions agreed to initiate closer discussions by the public and private sectors.
The EU is Asean’s second-largest trading partner after China. Last year, two-way trade in goods and service was valued at US$246.2 billion (about Bt8.1 trillion), or 9.8 per cent of overall Asean trade.
The EU is one of Asean’s leading investors, with direct investment of $74.75 billion from 2011-13.
At the Asean Economic Community Council in Malaysia, Asean ministers agreed to accelerate their AEC Blueprint and complete the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership by year-end.
Asean has reported that it could achieve about 90.5 per cent of the AEC Blueprint, or 458 of the 506 measures. Thailand has reached 93.1 per cent.