Thailand to host Apec trade ministers' meeting from May 19-22


BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network):Thailand will host a meeting of Apec Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) from May 19 to 22 to push for the digital economy and post-Covid economic revival among several goals, a senior Commerce Ministry official said on Thursday (May 5).

Oramon Sapthaweetham, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN), said Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit will chair the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation MRT meeting.

The meeting will discuss several issues, including the push for Bio-Circular-Green Model economy, cooperation to ease trade and investment restrictions, tourism promotion, free trade agreements, and the push for implementation of a digital economy and society, Oramon said.

During the meeting, ministers of the member nations will also discuss cooperation for sustainability in food production and "new normal" trade that will be suitable for the post-Covid era, she added.

The member nations will be asked to help support access to vaccines and necessary goods, she said.

In another development, Oramon announced the five-year (2022-2027) vision to mark the DTN’s 80th anniversary this year.

Among other things, the DTN will push for more FTA agreements to cover up to 80 per cent of Thailand’s trading partners.

Currently, the FTA ratio of Thailand with trading partners stands at 64 per cent, while Singapore’s FTA ratio is 96 per cent, Vietnam 73 per cent and the Philippines 71 per cent.

“This year, the DTN plans to complete pending FTA talks, such as Thailand-Turkey FTA, Thailand-Sri Lanka FTA, and Thailand-Pakistan FTA,” Oramon said.

She is confident that the FTA talks with Turkey will be concluded this year and Thailand will then hold talks with the European Free Trade Association as well as with the European Union.

The DTN will also push for an upgrade of Asean-Dialogue Partners’ FTA, covering China, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Oramon said.

The DTN will gradually hold talks of the joint trade committee (JTC) with key trade partners.

This year, Thailand hosted a JTC meeting with Vietnam and Bhutan in April and will hold more JTC meetings with Singapore, the United Kingdom, Maldives, China and Bangladesh, Oramon added.

She said the DTN has also drafted action plans to help Thai farmers and manufacturers to benefit from current FTA agreements.

For example, the DTN will hold a fair to promote the operations of its provincial FTA centre in Phayao province from May 27 to 29, and in Nakhon Si Thammarat province from June 10 to 12, she said.

The DTN will hold the second fair to promote products of the four southern border provinces to Asean FTA markets in Narathiwat province from June 16 to 18, Oramon said.

The DTN will join hands with the Thai Agricultural Council to hold an event in Mae Hong Son from August 18 to 20 to improve farmers’ capacities to be prepared for exporting products to FTA markets, Oramon said.

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