Thailand has announced the resumption of negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to improve trade, services and investments.
According to Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of Thailand’s Trade Negotiations Department, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit planned to start the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with EFTA in Iceland on June 20.
EFTA comprises Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
EFTA is one of Thailand’s targets for an FTA as the group has adopted a free trade policy and has a high level of purchasing power and economic strength. They are leaders in innovations and technologies in addition to having significant investors, Auramon said.
She said EFTA has specialised manufacturing for heavy-duty industrial machinery and high-tech industries, especially in the fields of food, medicine, pharmaceutical products, biotechnology and oil and natural gas.
EFTA has relatively high standards and trade regulations, meaning Thai entrepreneurs wanting to trade with this bloc need to develop or upgrade their production in line with international standards, she said.
Auramon said this serves as an opportunity for Thailand to raise standards and regulations to be in line with international levels, which will benefit the country.
According to data from the Board of Investment (BoI) of Thailand, EFTA investors applied for BoI promotions in 16 projects valued at 12.9 billion THB (366 million USD), ranking eighth among total FDI applications in Thailand.
It is projected that Thai exports to EFTA would increase by 38 percent to 262 million USD, while imports from EFTA would increase by 14.8 percent to 210 million USD.
EFTA was the 17th largest trade partner of Thailand in 2021, wth two-way trade reaching 7.5 billion USD, accounting for 1.29 percent of the Southeast Asian nation’s total trade value.