Thailand hopes to resume talks with EU on FTA

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Thailand hopes to resume talks with EU on FTA

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The Commerce Ministry of Thailand is seeking the resumption of negotiations on free trade between the country and the European Union to compensate for the loss of tariff privileges in that market.

The EU is ending the generalized scheme of preferences (GSP) on 1 January 2015, and over 6,200 Thai products will be withdrawn.

The scheme provides developing country exporters with reduced or nil duties on exports to the EU until they are regarded as competitive enough to no longer need such support.

The duty on frozen shrimp exports to the EU will triple from 4.2 percent to 12 percent, as shrimp production in 2014 is expected by the Thai Frozen Foods Association to recover to approximately half of the annual average before the 2012 outbreak of early mortality syndrome (EMS), Asean Briefing reported.

As for tuna, the duty will increase from 18.5 to 22 per cent.

Countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that still benefit from the GSP are the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, India and Pakistan.

The department and Thai Trade Office in Brussels are seeking for remedial measures in the meanwhile, such as asking EU importers to propose to their governments a temporary waiver of tariffs for agricultural and industrial products, or a quota for imports.

In addition, benefiting from rules of origin, some exports from third countries, which are temporarily stored in Thailand in bonded warehouses or free zones before being re-exported to the EU, may not be affected by the change. Thus, a high duty may be avoided.

The products exported from Thailand to the EU that will lose tariff privileges as the GSP system is reformed include meat, fish, precious stones, pearls, tuna, shrimp and rubber products.

The talks over a potential free trade agreement between the EU and Thailand were formally suspended in 2014. Photo: Stock File

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