Thailand to pursue free trade agreement with Britain

1 FTA3With the goal of expanding Thailand’s exports and boosting its economy, Thai officials said last week they are planning talks on a free-trade agreement with Great Britain to account for its exit from the European Union, as India, Pakistan and Turkey also said they will accelerate discussions and negotiations to conclude free-trade agreements with the Kingdom.

Thailand’s economic competitiveness and development in modern times have been built on a consistent openness to trade and investment. Despite many changes in government and leaders with a variety of viewpoints and ideologies, that welcoming approach to trade and investment has been a constant, offering potential investors and partners a track record of reliability as far as free and fair trade are concerned.

Thailand and Great Britain have agreed in principle to begin talks that will pave the way for a free-trade agreement between the two countries, as well as establishing a Thai-UK Business Leadership Council, said Deputy Minister of Commerce Suvit Maesincee upon returning from Great Britain last week having led a Thai trade delegation there.

During the visit, Suvit met with executives of Rolls-Royce in an effort to convince them to move the company’smanufacturing base to Thailand. The Thai government’s investment incentives for both the aviation and automobile sectors – the two chief fields in which Rolls-Royce competes – would make Thailand an ideal home for the company’s plants, according to the Deputy Minister.

In addition, Suvit proposed a possible leading role for Rolls-Royce on the Thai-UK Business Leadership Council, along with partially privatized Thai energy giant PTT.

Britain is Thailand’s 19th-largest trading partner and its second-largest trading partner in Europe. The value of the Kingdom’s trade with Britain in 2015 was $6.4 billion, down 6.1 percent from $6.8 billion in 2014. During the first five months of this year, two-way trade between Thailand and Britain reached $2.24 billion, with exports from Thailand accounting for $1.49 billion.

The recent turmoil in Britain over Brexit paled in comparison to the coup attempt in Turkey last week, nonetheless the situation in Turkey isn’t proving to be a major obstacle to trade negotiations with Thailand. A Thai trade delegation was dispatched to Ankara last week for the first round of talks aimed at producing a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

Despite recent events, Thai and Turkish officials said they hoped to conclude an agreement by the end of this year. Bilateral trade in 2014 was valued at $1.37 billion.

Talks were also ongoing last week between Thai and Pakistani officials, and they also said they hoped to conclude a free-trade agreement by the end of 2016. Bilateral trade was $973 million in 2015.

Last week also marked the 30th round of discussions on a long-delayed Thailand-India free trade pact. Sirinart Chaimun of the Trade Negotiations Department said she and her Indian counterparts agreed that the Thai-Indian Free Trade Agreement should be finalized soon.