The Nation | September 19, 2011
Free-trade talks with Pakistan planned
By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Thailand will soon launch free-trade negotiations with Pakistan, pursuing its second bilateral pact with a South Asian nation following an existing agreement with India.
Thailand and Pakistan are in the process of setting up a Joint Trade Committee (JTC) to strengthen trade ties, said Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department.
"The prospects for a bilateral trade pact are high. Pakistan is a potential market for Thai exports and we should see closer economic cooperation in the near future," she said.
The Thailand-Pakistan JTC is expected to hold its first meeting before the end of the year.
Thailand and India, meanwhile, have agreed to conclude talks on a comprehensive free-trade agreement (FTA) by the end of this year covering 5,000 items.
After joining the 21st Thailand-India Trade Negotiating Committee in New Delhi last week, Srirat said the Thailand-India FTA would give Thai exporters an advantage over their Asean competitors.
She said exporters of as many as 900 Thai products stood to benefit from the pact, includ-ing producers of garments, farm goods and electrical appliances.
The negotiations also cover cooperation on other issues, including the creative economy initiative, construction, tourism and the development of small and medium-sized enter-|prises.
Srirat said closer cooperation with India under the trade pact is expected to see bilateral trade rise to US$13 billion (Bt390 billion) by 2014.
India is Thailand’s largest trading partner in South Asia. Two-way trade was worth $4.16 billion in the first half |of this year, an increase of 29 per cent from the previous year. Thai exports to India were up 23.1 per cent to $2.62 billion.
In 2006, an "early-harvest" programme was implemented to liberalise trade in 82 items. India has bilateral pacts with Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Asean on trade in goods, and is ne-gotiating agreements with Australia and the European Union.