Thailand to finalise draft for FTA talks with EU this month


Thailand has announced plans to relaunch official free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union (EU) this year, the Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) said.

It also plans to accelerate the completion of four other FTAs within the first quarter of next year.

Auramon Supthaweethum, the department’s director-general, outlined the DTN’s timeline for this year at a press briefing on Tuesday.

She said the department will complete its first draft of the EU negotiation plan in the next two weeks and submit it to the Cabinet. Once the draft is approved, the department will have the authority to begin formal negotiations.

“The EU FTA will give Thailand’s private sector a competitive edge in investing and negotiating trade in the 27 EU countries, while also allowing European businesses to use Thailand as a production base to export to more countries,” Auramon said.

She revealed that the main topics on the agenda will include intellectual property protection, trade regulations and cross-border tax and customs.

FTA talks with the EU were put on hold after the 2014 coup because it was against the military takeover.

According to DTN, the EU is Thailand’s fifth largest trading partner after Asean, China, the United States and Japan.

Trade with the EU totalled US$41 billion in 2022, up 2.9% from the previous year, accounting for 7% of Thailand’s trade with the rest of the world.

Auramon also said that DTN plans to accelerate the conclusion of four pending FTA negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Canada, Turkey, and Sri Lanka by 2024.

“We intend to meet every two to three months so both parties can work closely together to overcome any obstacles,” she said.

Furthermore, in order to boost Thailand’s competitiveness, the department plans to continue researching the benefits and effects of FTAs with new trade partners, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as African countries.

Thailand currently has 14 FTAs with 18 countries, the most recent of which was the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Thailand’s trade with the 18 FTA countries came in at more than $359 billion in 2022, up 5.1% from the previous year. Automobiles, automobile accessories and parts, plastic beads, gems and jewellery, computers and electronic parts are Thailand’s key export products.