Published on November 1, 2007
Thai exporters have expressed overwhelming interest in reaping maximum benefits from the Japan-Thailand Economic Partner-ship Agreement (Jtepa).
Requests for Rules of Origin application forms doubled in October ahead of the implementation of the trade pact today.
Apiradi Tantraporn, director-general of the Foreign Trade De-partment, said 243 exporters had applied for origin certification for exporting to Japan from October 11-30.
They included manufacturers of plastic products, jewellery, garments, wood and wooden furniture, aluminium products, sports equipment, leather goods, chemical products, tapioca starch, rubber goods and electrical wiring.
"The large number of application forms shows that exporters want to take advantage of duty-free accession to Japan, the Kingdom's second-largest export destination," Apiradi said.
Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet said exports to Japan should increase significantly after the implementation of the pact.
The ministry predicts exports to Japan will grow by 12 per cent to US$19.3 billion (Bt656 billion) next year, thanks to the benefits of the Jtepa.
Despite exports to Japan falling by 1.3 per cent in September, Krirk-krai is confident they will rise signi-ficantly following implementation of the pact. Exports to Japan decreased slightly because exporters are look-
ing forward to using bene-
fits from the agreement, he added.
Five sectors that will enjoy immediate tariff
elimination are food, jewellery and ornaments, textiles and garments, petrochemicals and plastics.
Pornsilp Patcha-rintanakul, vice chairman of the Board of Trade, said exporters were keen to utilise benefits from the pact because of high competition.
"The Jtepa is a major hope for exporters. Although many export rivals are also expecting to wrap up free-trade pacts with Japan, further implementation will ensure that Thai exports will not be hurt if others also achieve a final trade deal," he said.
Thamrong Tritiprasert, chairman of the Footwear Industry Club of the Federa-tion of Thai Industries, said footwear exporters expected sales to Japan to grow by 10-15 per cent in the first year of the deal.
China currently provides 80 per cent of Japan's footwear imports but the decrease in tariffs will boost Thailand's market share, he added.
Chana Kanaratanadilok, deputy director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said that under the Jtepa, Thailand would allow Japanese investors to hold a share of not more than 51 per cent in a logistics consultancy.
But the Thai government will not make any commitment to Japanese investors over logistics provision, he reaffirmed.
Meanwhile, the Customs Department announced zero import tariffs for 40 per cent of products listed in the pact. The Japanese goods include apples, peaches, pears, prunes, chemicals, textiles and garments, hot-rolled steel, buses that carry more than 30 passengers, golf carts, ambulances and bicycles.
Tariffs for remaining goods under the agreement will be gradually reduced to zero by April 2017. These include plastics, rubber, leather goods, shoes, glassware, machinery, electrical appliances, trucks below five tonnes, motorcycles with engines about 250cc, wristwatches and musical instruments.
Cars with engines above 3,000cc will have tariffs reduced from 80 per cent to 60 per cent by 2010; buses that carry 10-30 passengers will have tariffs cut from 40 per cent to 20 per cent by 2017; and trucks over five tonnes will have tariffs halved from 40 per cent to 20 per cent by 2017.
The tariff reductions do not include tobacco and raw silk.