First Round of Trade Talks Between the EU and Thailand Conclude

First Round of Trade Talks Between the EU and Thailand Conclude

On the 6th of March 2013, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced the start of negotiations on a free trade deal between the EU and Thailand. Thailand is the latest of several ASEAN member countries to seek a trade pact with the EU. The EU concluded an FTA with Singapore at the end of 2012 and talks with Malaysia and Vietnam have been ongoing since 2010 and 2012 respectively. Thailand is the EU’s largest trade partner within the ASEAN community – their trade relationship was valued at €31.7 billion in 2012.

EU - Thailand Trade Year on Year

Total Trade
(millions of euro)
Evolution in the trade of goods and services between the EU and Thailand from 2009 to 2012.

The latest round of talks was recently held in Brussels between the  27th and the 31st of May. Any deal is expected to include a decision on tariff as well as non-tariff barriers as well as agreements on other trade related issues such as services, investment, procurement, regulatory issues, competition, and sustainable development.

Negotiations are being carried out in close consultation with NGOs and corporate leaders on both sides. In preparation for the first round of talks, the European ASEAN Business Centre in Thailand conducted surveys with representatives from the manufacturing industry as well as with fishery operators. Canned goods (and tuna in particular) have come up as a potential flashpoint in the negotiations. Spain and Portugal – who together produce 75 percent of the EU’s canned tuna – have expressed their concern that an FTA with Thailand might pose a serious threat to a domestic industry which is already battered.

The EU is also an important trade partner for Thailand – its third largest after Japan and China. The South East Asian kingdom is particularly keen on forging an FTA as its current preferential trade arrangement with the EU is set to expire in 2015. If allowed to lapse, some estimate that almost 39 percent of Thailand’s exports to the EU will be affected.

Both parties hope to conclude negotiations within 18 months. In total, seven rounds of talks have been planned with 24 working groups which will study individual aspects of the agreement.

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(Wikimedia Commons image courtesy of edwin11_79)

About the Author:

Sebastian Andrei is NABATAEANS’ editor for EU - Middle East Trade and Political Relations. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Vienna, where he majored in journalism with minors in political science as well as business and economics. Sebastian is responsible for reporting on the European Union’s external trade relations. He also writes about economic development and investment opportunities in Europe as well as about policy changes which affect the EU common market.

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