Thailand hopes to start official bilateral free-trade talks with the European Union early next year, with a view to making the country the EU’s trade and investment hub in Asean as well as compensating for expected lost export privileges under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

After a meeting with Belgium’s ambassador to Thailand, Marc Michielsen, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom yesterday said the government had reaffirmed to Belgium that the Kingdom would be ready in a few months to begin talks with the EU, as the draft negotiating plan would soon be proposed to Parliament.

“Once we get the green light from Parliament under Article 190 of the Constitution, Thailand and the EU should officially start negotiations to promote economic growth and closer cooperation,” said the minister.

A free-trade agreement (FTA) should not be against the country’s interests as the government would continue to be responsive to concerns from private enterprises and non-governmental organisations, he added.

The Trade Negotiations Department reported that the Commerce Ministry had already conducted a focus group discussion about a Thailand-EU FTA with seven key sectors. The following broad sectors took part in the consultation: electronics and electrical appliances, automobiles and auto parts, and steel; fashion goods, including textiles and garments, jewellery and ornaments, footwear and leather goods; medicines; banking and finance, tourism and animation; agriculture and foods; alcoholic beverages; and environmental and plant protection.

via Thailand-EU free-trade talks likely early next year – The Nation.

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