THE MINISTRY of Commerce will host the first Asean Senior Economic Officials’ Meeting (SEOM) in Bangkok form January 12-18 to push for economic issues and to conclude negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year.
Oramon Sapthaweetham, director-general of Department of Trade Negotiations, said that 12 economic issues will be proposed in the meeting, from the preparation to handle the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), promotion of micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the expansion of Asean Single Window Customs System to include all 10 Asean countries, the promotion of food tourism in Asean to the promotion of sustainable fishery.
Currently, the Asean Single Window Customs System is available for only Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
In the meeting, the Asean senior economic officials will review the Asean free trade agreement, the system for self-certification on the country of origin and Asean mutual recognition arrangements (MRA) for automotive products, she said.
The meeting will also discuss the framework for cooperation with Asean's 11 dialogue partners including the United States, the European Union, China, Japan, Korea, Russia and India, trade facilitation with a focus on solution to non-trade barriers, and sustainable capital market development, she said.
RCEP is set to reach conclusion this year and Asean countries will discuss on the matter on whether or not they agree with the Thai proposal and the conclusion will be forwarded to Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) for approval.
Oramon said that this year, Thailand will finalise its free trade agreements with Turkey, Sri Lanka and Pakistan within 2020 and prepare to become a member of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) which is expected after the new government.
The department will also prepare to make negotiations for FTA with the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), she said. So far, EFTA is the intergovernmental organisation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland for the promotion of free trade and economic integration between its members.
Thailand will also expedite its economic partnership with its trading countries including China, Cambodia and Laos, she said.