Thailand wants to work with India for conclusion of negotiations for the comprehensive free trade agreement which aims to promote economic cooperation between the two nations.
Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said, “We really want to work with Indian government to have free trade agreement (FTA) together even though we had some obstacles in the past but I think we can keep that off.”
The two countries have already abolished duties on 82 items under an ‘Early Harvest Scheme’ launched in 2004, which include products like fruits, processed food, gems and jewellery, iron and steel, auto parts and electronic goods.
It was the initial phase of the proposed comprehensive FTA, which is to be upgraded to a full-fledged arrangement for reduction and elimination of duties on about 90 per cent of goods traded between the countries.
The FTA would also cover opening up of trade in services, an area of interest to India. Issues like significant cut in duties on number of products and movement of professionals are yet to be resolved by both sides.
Jatusripitak said there is a need to accelerate the process of the FTA talks. India and Thailand are also members of the mega trade deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
When asked about the progress of this pact, he said, “It is one of the best opportunities that we have and we are ready to join any kind of FTA agreement of the regional (nature).”
RCEP members are meeting in Japan later this month to fast-track the negotiations. The members would discuss finalising the maximum number of goods on which duties will either be eliminated or reduced drastically.
RCEP aims at covering goods, services, investments, economic and technical cooperation and competition. The 16-member bloc RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN members and India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.