Govt to set up 14 panels before EU FTA talks

Economy March 23, 2013 00:00

By Petchanet Pratruangkrai

The

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Thailand has agreed to set up 14 subcommittees to consider various issues in talks for the Thailand-European Union Free-Trade Agreement in order to ensure the greatest benefits for the Kingdom.



The first round of talks will be held in May.

Olarn Chaipravat, chief of the Thailand Trade Representative who heads the Thai negotiating team with the EU, said that the 14 panels will carefully consider all issues, including the liberalisation of trade in goods, services and investments.

It will also consider sensitive issues that have been a cause of worry for the public and non-governmental organisations. Among the worrying issues are tariff cut on cigarettes, alcohol, and the intellectual property rights. The working committee consisting of government, private-sector and civil-society representatives will consider issues of concern to prevent negative impacts on some sectors from an FTA.

"The panels will carefully consider all issues to ensure maximum benefit and the least losses for the Kingdom. The panel should have the study outcome by May 15 before I lead the first round of talks in Belgium," said Olarn.

The Thai-EU free trade agreement is scheduled to be concluded within two years of talks, by 2015. The first round of talks will be held in Brussels on May 27. This year, about three rounds of talks will be held.

The 14 issues include: liberalisation of trade in goods, rules of origin, custom procedure and trade facilitation, technical barrier to trade, trade remedies, sanitary and psyto-sanitary, services, investment, public procurement, intellectual property rights, competition policy, dispute settlement, sustainable development, and transparency and general, institutional.

Piramol Charoenpao, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said that Thailand’s gains would exceed its losses from this FTA. It will ensure that Thai exports do not fall after the Kingdom loses the tax privileges from the EU’s revision of its GSP by 2014.