Thailand advocating for free-trade deal at APEC

Thailand will use its role as the host country of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to press for a four-year action plan to create an APEC free-trade area when the group’s leaders meet for a summit in Bangkok in November.

“The plan centers on overcoming trade and investment obstacles to enhance the competitiveness of APEC member economies,” said Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General of the Trade Negotiations Department, Ministry of Commerce. “The plan aims to address the world’s economic riddles in terms of trade, investment, innovation and digitalization.”

Thailand’s economy relies on exports and investment, and so the Kingdom actively pursues trade deals and free-trade agreements with as many partners as possible. To date, Thailand has 14 free-trade agreements with 18 countries. The European Union is the latest to announce its intension to resume negotiations with Thailand for a free-trade agreement.

APEC has been considering creating a free-trade area for many years. The Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) would encompass the 21 Pacific Rim member economies that form APEC. The group is diverse and encompasses wealthy economies such as the U.S., Japan and Singapore along with emerging economies such as Papua New Guinea. Most APEC member economies are at either an advanced stage of development or in middle-income status.

APEC is home to 2.9 billion people, accounting for 38 percent of the global population, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) worth $52 trillion, equivalent to 62 percent of the world’s GDP.

Should APEC proceed and form a free-trade area, trade volume among APEC member economies would increase by 200 to 400 percent, according to Thailand’s Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.

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