Bangkok Post - 18 February 2019
Thailand seeks Indian support for new RCEP regional trade bloc
Thailand is looking for India’s support to help settle talks and conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of this year.
Chutima Bunyapraphasara, the acting commerce minister, said that at the fourth India-Asean Expo and Summit, scheduled for New Delhi during Feb 22-23, she will meet with Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, Asean secretary-general Paduka Lim Jock Hoi and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu to discuss Indian support to conclude the RCEP this year.
The talks will also focus on a backlog of issues, including the market access package on the exchange of goods and service items.
Other issues on the agenda are trade obstacles, the rule of origins, and e-commerce and intellectual trade competition.
"Thailand is ready to host the meeting on the backlog issues so that the RCEP negotiations can be concluded within this year," Ms Chutima said.
The RCEP was launched in November 2012 with the aim of establishing deeper economic cooperation between the 10 members of Asean and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, with a focus on trade in goods, services and investment.
If signed, the agreement will create an economic bloc with a combined population of 3.5 billion and trade volume of UScopy0.7 billion, accounting for nearly 30% of global trade.
The fourth India-Asean Expo and Summit will also conduct business matching between the Thai and Indian private sectors, including construction/logistics, electronics and rubber tyres.
In 2018, bilateral trade between Thailand and India amounted to UScopy2.46 billion, a rise of 20.2% from the year before.
Exports from Thailand represented $7.6 billion, with key shipments including plastic pellets, chemicals, automotive and auto parts, gems and and jewellery, and machinery and parts.