by Surasak Tumcharoen
BANGKOK, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Thailand and the European Union will open formal talk on Free Trade Area agreements early next month.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is scheduled to leave for the Belgian capital of Brussels, which locates the EU headquarters, on March 6 and 7 to lead a Thai delegation in the starting up of the negotiations on the FTA dealings which might probably take a two-year time, according to Thailand's Department of Trade Negotiations chief Piramon Charoenpao.
Bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU is expected to increase in volume and value due to FTA dealings, which seek to cut trade tariffs and promote investments, Piramon said.
The FTA agreements will do more favors for Thai exporters than the General System of Preferences currently provided for the Thai goods destined for the EU markets, she said.
The FTA talk is apparently following the United States' reported plan to also open an FTA talk with the EU in near future and a recent approval from the Thai legislative branch for the Yingluck government to proceed with the time-consuming talk.
"As a matter of fact, Singapore and Vietnam have already held FTA talks with the EU separately. We'll have to follow suit in prompt fashion for optimum interests of our country," said the Thai department chief.
Bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU has amounted to 30 billion euros with the Thai side enjoying a trade surplus totaling about 5.5 billion euros.
Thai products exported to the EU included foods, fruit, farm products, animal feeds and jewelry items while European goods for the Southeast Asian country included machinery, construction and medical equipment, clothing and drugs, among others.
Piramon added that plans to hold FTA talks between the ASEAN community and the EU had been indefinitely put off, because the Europeans preferred separate dealings with individual countries to the whole bloc.