Thailand: Export marketing, partner talks making progress

The government looks set to organise as many as 343 marketing activities both in and outside Thailand and accelerate free trade agreement (FTA) talks with several potential partners including the European Union (EU), the UK, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the European Free Trade Association (Efta).

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said on Wednesday the ministry in close partnership with the private sector has already completed promotional and stimulus plans for exports, which include marketing events and trade pacts.

Of the planned 343 marketing events, some 135 will be held in Thailand and the remaining 208 are scheduled to be organised in foreign countries.

Mr Jurin said the Commerce Ministry has been revving up international trade negotiations to give Thai products a competitive edge, noting the ministry has already completed the study on the impact of the planned Thai-EU FTA, which will go to the cabinet to receive approval to proceed with trade talks.

Next year, he said the ministry also looks set to speed up talks on the FTAs with the UK, the EU, the EAEU and Efta.

The EAEU consists of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, while Efta comprises four European countries — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Thailand has kick-started efforts to forge an FTA with Efta in September this year. The Commerce Ministry’s Trade Negotiations Department also hired the Institute of Future Studies for Development to study the impacts of a Thai-Efta FTA.

Negotiations between Efta and Thailand were launched in October 2005. Two rounds were held, but talks have been on hold since 2006.

According to Mr Jurin, the ministry also plans to apply an innovative approach to forge deepened trade partnership deals or the so-called “mini FTAs” with prospective regions in China and India such as Hainan province in China, Telangana state in India and Gyeonggi province in South Korea.

“The talks on mini FTAs with Hainan, Telangana and Gyeonggi are about to finish,” said Mr Jurin. “We do hope that the deepened partnership with the three cities will help create more opportunities for trade and investment for Thai entrepreneurs.”

Mr Jurin said the ministry also plans to promote sales of Thai products via famous online platforms such as Amazon in Singapore and the US, Lotte in South Korea, Tmall in China, Bigbasket in India and in Cambodia.

The Commerce Ministry said despite a slew of negative factors, most notably the outbreak, Thailand has done quite well in exports compared with other countries, noting Thailand’s exports have witnessed a recovery on a monthly basis, with figures expected to see only 7% contraction for the entirety of 2020.

Next year, he said, Thailand is expected to see export growth of 4%.

Mr Jurin said the ministry’s most urgent task is to tackle border trade, which has been impeded by the closure of certain border checkpoints.