ASEAN AND Hong Kong are set to wrap up their free-trade agreement negotiations this year, with the aim of promoting trade, services and investment between the two sides.
Ronnarong Phoolpipat, deputy director-general to the Trade Negotiations Department, is leading the Thai negotiation team and co-chairing the seventh Asean-Hong Kong Trade Negotiating Committee and related meetings in Hong Kong that started yesterday and concludes on Thursday.
This step is crucial, as there will be only one more meeting in August.
“This round of talks should come up with many agreements including trade in goods, trade in services, investment, rules of origin and rules and laws, as Asean and Hong Kong aim to finalise the agreement within the end of this year,” Ronnarong said.
Following six rounds of negotiations, both sides agreed on four areas – customs procedures and trade facilitation, sanitary and psytosanitary, technical trade barriers, and economic and academic cooperations.
Ronnarong said that the Asean-Hong Kong FTA would create great benefits for Thailand and Asean in many ways.
He said they would include increased opportunities for investors to access funds in Hong Kong, upgrading service standards and encouraging Thailand to become a distribution centre for Hong Kong and Asean.
He said the pact would also help increase market-access opportunities in China as Hong Kong was an efficiency gateway to mainland China.
Last year, more than 90 per cent of goods imports to Hong Kong were re-exported to the mainland market.
Hong Kong is also seen as being able to help develop infrastructure in Asean.
Hong Kong has proposed providing HK$25 million (Bt115 million) to Asean under an economic and academic cooperation.
Hong Kong is currently Thailand’s seventh-largest trading partner with average bilateral trade of US$14.26 billion (Bt509.6 billion) between 2011-2015.
In the first four months of this year, two-way trade was worth $4.08 billion, down 6.66 per cent on the same period last year.