THE Department of Foreign Trade aims to increase the percentage of Thai businesses cashing in on tax incentives under the Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta) to 70 per cent this year, up from 63.04 per cent in 2017.
“Our job is to let Thai people know that they have the opportunity to export to other Asean countries with tax incentives under the Afta agreement,” said Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Commerce.
Adul said if businesses export without certification that their goods are from Thailand, they will not be eligible for tariff reduction under Afta.
The department aims to get the message out to Thai businesses that if they want to export to other Asean countries and benefit from the Afta tax incentive, they will need a certificate of origin.
There are many types of certificates of origin, but the one used for intra-Asean trade is called “Form D”, he explained.
The total value of Thai exports that have benefited from the Afta tax incentive has increased from US$19.46 billion (Bt634.1 billion) in 2015 to $23.8 billion (Bt775.5 billion) in 2017.
However, the total value of exports that would have been eligible for the Afta tax incentive in 2017 was worth $37.76 billion (Bt1.23 trillion), according to the Department of Foreign Trade. This figure shows a large number of businesses in Thailand that were eligible to exercise their Afta rights did not do so, Adul said.
The Department of Foreign Trade is promoting greater trade between Thailand and other Asean countries through the Young Entrepreneur Network Development (YEN-D) Programme.
“Business matching alone will not suffice to promote long-term business relationships between countries. No matter how good the roads and bridges are, it is of no use if there is no sense of community or close connectivity between investors of different countries,” Adul said.
The YEN-D programme is meant to facilitate the development of close friendship and ties between entrepreneurs and investors in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand (CLMVT) in order to foster healthy and long-term trade and investments between Thailand and its Asean neighbours, Adul explained. In the first season in 2015, 30 entrepreneurs from Thailand and 30 entrepreneurs from a neighbouring country were selected to enter the YEN-D programme together, participating in group activities and project competitions with each group containing members from both countries, he said.
“Within just four days of the programme, entrepreneurs from both countries had become close friends as they cooperated in group projects and group activities,” Adul said.
The process was then repeated until entrepreneurs from each neighbouring country got the opportunity to join the YEN-D programme along with Thai entrepreneurs, from Thailand-Laos, Thailand-Cambodia and Thailand-Myanmar. In the first season, up to 240 entrepreneurs from Thailand and neighbouring Asean countries participated, he said.
The programme now has four seasons, with up to 1,200 entrepreneurs in the YEN-D network, Adul says.
“In the past four years, the YEN-D programme has generated up to Bt3 billion in investment and trading value,” he said.