Published on February 21, 2008
Since free-trade agreements with China and Japan have generated lower interest among local exporters than similar pacts with other trade partners, the Commerce Ministry is planning to promote better understanding and greater utilisation of them.
The move came after Com-merce Minister Mingkwan Sangsuwan ordered the Trade Negotiations Department to review existing free-trade pacts to see whether the country was maximising benefits from them.
For instance, Thai exporters have applied for only 10 per cent of potential tariff privileges under the Thailand-China FTA since its early-harvest scheme for mainly agricultural products was implemented in January 2005.
The wide-ranging Japan-Thailand Economic Partner-ship (Jtepa) only went into effect last November, so it is still quite new.
Chutima Bunyapraphasara, director-general of the department, said yesterday that the department had found that some FTAs have lower recognition among exporters, particularly the Thailand-China FTA and the Jtepa.
The agency plans to orga-nise workshops for exporters to gain a better understand-ing of the FTAs' export benefits. They are scheduled to
start early next month for
the Japan, Asean-China and Thailand-India agreements.
The Jtepa will create opportunities for Thai products to enter both Japan and third countries. Farm and processed food, textile and jewellery exports to Japan are expected to grow 30 per cent each year.
Under the agreement, duties on Thai durian, papaya, coconut, mangosteen, peanuts, pumpkins, mangoes, shrimp, cooked shrimp and processed shrimp have been eliminated.
Duties have been reduced on garments to 2.7-13.4 per cent, on food and frozen food products to 5 per cent, on gems and jewellery to 2.7-10 per cent, and on petroleum and plastics to 2.5-21.3 per cent.
Thailand will also enjoy
bigger import quotas for some products like molasses, tapioca starch, bananas, pork and pineapple.
The Jtepa will also facilitate Thai services and employees in businesses such as advertising and travel agencies and in vocations including tour guides, hotel operators, tailors and designers, as well as legal, architectural and engineering consulting.
The department will also encourage exporters and investors to tap other FTAs, including those that went into effect with Australia in January 2005, New Zealand in July 2005 and India for an early-harvest programme of 82 products in September 2004.
The Asean-China pact
is another one involving Thailand. It went into effect in July 2005.