11 July 2024

Thailand is expected to finalise free trade agreements (FTAs) with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the second and third quarters of next year, which will increase trade volume between Thailand and the three export markets by about US$31 billion, or one trillion baht, annually.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations, said that, after four rounds of negotiations, she expects the FTA between Thailand and the UAE to be the first to be concluded, possibly before the end of this year.

She said that the UAE enjoys high purchasing power from its citizens, foreign workers and tourists. As such it is an ideal logistical hub for the distribution of Thai products to other markets in the Middle East.

According to a study of market potential, the FTA with the UAE has the potential to increase Thai exports by about 30 billion baht per annum for food, textiles, leather products, garments, rubber, timber, chemicals, electrical appliances, automobiles and spare parts.

The next FTA to be finalised is expected to be with Sri Lanka next year, after six rounds of negotiations, said Auramon, adding that Sri Lanka is strategically located on the major shipping route in the Indian Ocean, linking East Asia andSoutheast Asia with the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The country is also rich in natural resources.

Sri Lanka, she said, is ideal as a production base for Thai investments in processed food, textiles and jewellery for export to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Thai exports, which are expected to benefit from an FTA with Sri Lanka are, among others, automobiles and spare parts, machinery, electrical appliances, sugar and plastic pellets.

Six rounds of negotiations have been held between Thailand and the EFTA and it is expected that an FTA can be finalised in the middle of next year, said Auramon, adding that Thai products with the potential in this huge market include farm products, rice, sweet corn, processed food, dog and cat food, tropical fruits, processed chicken, canned fruits, fruit juice, garments, automobiles and parts, jewellery and ornaments.

Service businesses, such as tourism, wellness and medical services, clean energy, finance and telecommunications, will also benefit from an FTA with Europe, she added.