Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit and EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis announced that the two sides have agreed to relaunch negotiations for a free-trade agreement (FTA) between Thailand and the European Union, with the goal of concluding the discussions within the first quarter of this year.
Jurin referred to the conference as “historic” since it was the first time that political representatives from both sides decided to begin free-trade negotiations. He will now seek Cabinet approval before resuming trade negotiations, while Dombrovskis will seek approval from the 27 EU member states.
This is a huge step forward for Thailand, which has sought an FTA with the European Union for almost a decade. In March 2013, negotiations for the FTA were initiated, but were suspended the following year. If the resumption of negotiations results in a deal, Thailand will become the third ASEAN nation to establish a free trade agreement with the EU, following Vietnam and Singapore.
After China, the United States, and Japan, the EU is Thailand’s fourth largest commercial partner. In 2012, bilateral commerce between Thailand and the EU was 1.3 trillion baht (US$41 billion), representing 7% of Thailand’s overall trade.
Thailand’s exports to the EU were 843,3 billion baht last year, with important exports comprising computers, computer equipment, and components; gems and jewelry; air conditioners and components; rubber goods; poultry; and electronic circuit boards.
Also in 2022, Thai imports from the EU were 594,2 billion baht, with equipment and components, medicines, chemicals, electrical machinery, and tools being the majority of import items.