A meeting between EFTA and Thailand was held in Bangkok on July 2, to assess the possibility of reopening negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA). The EFTA delegation was led by Ambassador Martin Eyjolfsson from Iceland. Mr. Somkiat Triratpan, Deputy Director-General at the Department of Trade Negotiations, led the Thai delegation. Both parties agreed that negotiations should be resumed as soon as possible. Thai authorities plan to propose a draft for a mandate to the EFTA negotiations to the Parliament at the next Parliamentary session, starting on August 1 this year.
Thailand and EFTA initiated negotiations for an FTA on the fall of 2005, but the negotiations were put on hold in 2006 because of the political situation in Thailand at the time. At the EFTA ministerial meeting in Trondheim on June 24 this year, the EFTA ministers of trade unanimously expressed a strong wish to see a reopening of the negotiations in the near future. The need for an FTA with Thailand was further strengthened when Thailand and the European Union recently entered into negotiations about a comprehensive FTA.
Norway’s trade with Thailand has seen an increase in recent years, and in 2012 the total trade in goods exceeded NOK 5 billion (about THB 25 billion) for the first time. Norwegian exports to Thailand are primarily fertilizers, machinery and fish, while the imports are primarily electronics, cars, seafood, rice, fruit and vegetables. The FTA will aim for a removal of tariffs for as many goods as possible for both Thailand and the EFTA countries. Norway has also got significant interests regarding trade in services, especially telecommunication.