THE NATION | May 29, 2009
Asean-Japan FTA will enhance JTEPA
By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
The Asean-Japan Free-Trade Agreement will take effect for Thailand early next month, and the Kingdom will see enhanced benefits on top of its own bilateral trade pact, a senior commercial officer said yesterday.
Trade Negotiations Department director-general Nuntawan Sakuntanaga said the pact recently became the first international agreement ratified by Parliament in accordance with Article 190 of the Constitution. It has already been in effect with six Asean members since last December: Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Malaysia and Brunei.
Nuntawan said the FTA would widen benefits for the Kingdom found in the bilateral Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement. She urged enterprises to take advantage of the new pact early on, in order to ensure Thai exporters and businesses benefited the same as other Asean members.
"The country will receive greater investment cooperation and more technology transfers from Japan, as well as enjoy more tariff reductions and rules-of-origin benefits for agricultural goods exported there.
Tariffs for more than 90 per cent of trade in goods among Asean and Japan will be eliminated immediately after the pact’s implementation.
Export value from Asean to Japan is expected to reach US$81.28 billion (Bt2.78 trillion), an increase of $20.63 billion from the present level. Imports will be worth $80.49 billion.
Fish and fish products, bananas, processed foods, chemical products and wood will have their import tariffs, worth a combined $53 million, immediately cut by Japan.
Thailand will also gain rules-of-origin benefits under the Asean-Japan FTA for such goods as non-woven textiles, alcohol, processed meat, aquacultural foods, instant cereals, milk, fruits and vegetables.
Asean and Thailand will enjoy greater cooperation and technology transfers from Japan in 14 areas, including trade facilitation, energy, information technology and human-resource development.
Meanwhile, trade under Thailand’s bilateral partnerships dropped slightly in the first quarter, due to the impact of the global economic crunch.
To stimulate trade growth, Nuntawan said the department was mulling new strategies to stimulate greater use of Thailand’s FTAs.
The government is also considering expanding its FTAs with Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the Southern Common Market nations of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The department reported that under the Kingdom’s FTA with Australia, exports to that country grew 15.5 per cent to $2.12 billion in the first quarter, while imports dropped 36.3 per cent to $665.8 million. Exports to New Zealand plunged 37 per cent to $115.2 million, but imports dropped 70.7 per cent to $53.8 million.
Exports to India declined 17 per cent to $352.3 million, but Thailand still enjoyed a trade surplus of $246.6 million with that country.
Exports to Japan dropped 26.1 per cent to $3.5 billion, and the Kingdom had a trade deficit of $1.47 billion. Exports to China were down 27.6 per cent to $3.37 billion, with Thailand recording a trade deficit of $381.7 billion.