TRADE officials expect bilateral trade with Turkey to reach US$2 billion in 2020 as they expressed confidence that a free-trade deal with Ankara can be wrapped up early next year.
The talks have seen an increased focus on issues such as technical challenges and rules of trade.
The fifth meeting between Thailand and Turkey from April 10-12 in Ankara yielded solid progress, Auramon Supthaweethum, the director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN), said. Progress was made in drafting the articles for trade in goods, customs procedures, hygiene measures and trade facilitation, she said.
The next meeting this August in Thailand will see a focus on drafting articles regarding
technical challenges to trade and the rules of origin, which were also discussed at last week’s meeting.
The two sides also discussed reducing or removing tariff barriers for a list of goods traded between the two countries, along with clarifying the particular goods that each country wants their trading partner to further open up to.
For example, Thailand asked Turkey to further open up its markets for fruits and vegetables, processed agricultural products, plastics and electrical appliances.
Both sides agreed that the Thailand-Turkey FTA will be an important mechanism to help each country expand its trade benefits amid the uncertain global economic conditions, Auramon said.
For Turkey, a newly negotiated FTA with Thailand could be leveraged as a gateway to enter the wider Asean market.
Thailand could use a future agreement with Turkey, which is located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, to expand trade in these regions, she explained.
The director-general also met with Turkey’s private sector and Thai investors in Turkey. She told them that Turkey’s market offered many opportunities to grow given its population of around 80 million, and is a strategic location for distributing Thai products to the surrounding region. The private sector has sounded their support for a Thai-Turkey FTA and hopes that the negotiations will be able to soon reach a conclusion, she claimed.
Additionally, a market survey found that Turkey’s market has a demand for Thai agricultural and industrial goods.
One current obstacle to trade is the continuing presence of high tariffs on Thai exports entering Turkey. Auramon said she is confident the FTA will help Turkey further open its market to Thai products.
In 2018, Turkey was Thailand’s 36th largest trading partner in the world, and the fourth largest in the Middle East.
Last year’s trade value between Thailand and Turkey stood at $1.427 billion (Bt45.34 billion), with Thailand exporting $1.082 billion (Bt34.38 billion) worth of goods to Turkey and importing $344 million (Bt10.93 billion), according to the Commerce Ministry, which oversees the Department of Trade Negotiations.
The Kingdom’s key exports to Turkey are cars, equipment and parts, air conditioners, rubber and plastics.