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Last Updated:[03-03-2009 06:53:49 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

The EU Prods Thailand to be Proactive on FTA

tradenews European Commission Trade Director-General and Chief Negotiator, Philippe Meyer said in Bangkok at the sidelines of ASEAN Business Investment Summit that the EU was keen on inking a free trade deal with Thailand if they took proactive measures. Meyer described the next round of the ASEAN-EU joint committee meeting which would be held this month in Kuala Lumpur was expected to be a platform to push individual FTA with Thailand and other interested countries in the region.

According to the EU, the 10 member ASEAN’s likely completion of a deal with the EU by 2018 is a protracted one especially in current economic conditions. The EU is trying to engage for an individual FTA with like-minded countries in the region before the prolonged comprehensive FTA with the ASEAN materialized. In the forthcoming summit in Thailand, the countries interested to engage individually with the EU will likely attempt to earn a mandate for the same.

Meyer pointed out that despite six rounds of talks with the ASEAN since last May have not yielded any headway as the members were with diverse interests. Therefore, Thailand should seize the opportunity to go ahead with individual plans as both parties would immensely benefit from such a deal, he added.

Later he said that rapid action and co-operation are needed in halting the global downturn from all like-minded countries. Apart from Thailand, the EU is interested in signing deals outside the ASEAN with Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam.

Meyer unambiguously stated that they would move with those who were ready, and did not see any reason why Thai businesses had to wait for the readiness of other countries. Experts say that the EU’s strong stance would prompt many ASEAN members to yield to the pressure as the nations in the region mostly rely on their exports and are witnessing severe slump in recent months.

According to the Thailand Ministry of Commerce, the exports to 25 countries of the EU reached $23.39bn last year, up by 7.86 percent from 2007 and imports on the other hand recorded 19.35 percent growth to $14.2bn during the same period. Europe is one of the largest trading partners of Thailand outside the ASEAN group.

By Jose Roy

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