Thailand aims at concluding talks for three free-trade agreements (FTAs) by mid-2024 with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in order to boos trade and investment.
It has been reported that the deal with Sri Lanka is of particular interest, as Sri Lanka represents a strategic location in South Asia thanks to links to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. A Thai-EFTA FTA would therefore be important for Thailand in terms of trading and sustainable development.
Thailand and EFTA, which comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, commences negotiations over a potential FTA in June 2022. FTA negotiations developed from 2005 to 2006, but then stopped. In 2022, EFTA ranked as Thailand’s 14th-largest trading partner. Between 2018 and 2022, average trade between the two parties was calculated at close to USD 10 billion annually.
An FTA with the UAE would be the first trade deal for Thailand in the Middle East. Thailand and the UAE have just launched FTA talks, and aim to conclude negotiations within six months.The UAE ranks Thailand’s sixth-largest trading partner globally, and its top trading partner in the Middle East. In 2022, trade between Thailand and the UAE was valued at over USD 20 billion, an increase of 73.9% year-on-year. Thailand’s main exports to the UAE include cars, air conditioners, parts and components, jewellery and wood, while imports from the UAE include crude oil, refined oil, natural gas, other mineral products, scrap metal and manufactured products.
Moreover, it is expected that by 2024 there will be an upgrade to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA. As for progress on the Thai-EU FTA negotiations that were announced in March 2023, chief negotiators will launch the first round of talks in September 2023 to frame the initial phases of the negotiations.
(Sources: ScandAsia; Bangkok Post)