Pakistan and Thailand to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) by May next year, which will help Pakistan, enhance its access to ASEAN region and Thailand to enhance its trade with the South Asian states as well as with the Central Asian states. Pakistan is already its second largest trading partner after India in the region.
The two countries plan to use the FTA as a springboard for gaining access in the ASEAN and South and Central Asian regions respectively.
An official source said that consensus on FTA was developed at the meeting of the Pakistan-Thailand Trade Negotiating Committee held on January 25 to 27. Both countries want to conclude the first phase of FTA by May 2017 and it would cover trade in goods only with substantial coverage.
After the signing of the first phase of FTA, both countries want to embark upon negotiations on services, investment and competition. To conclude the FTA, the two countries have set up working groups for trade in goods, rules of origin, legal and institutional issues, customs procedures and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and photo-sanitary measures and trade remedies.
The source said that the negotiations were held with emphasis on tariff reductions, customs procedures, and cooperation in sanitary standards and trade remedy measures. The agreement should also eliminate both tariff and non-tariff barriers as well as increase investment opportunities for both countries.
The bilateral trade between the two states was over $1 billion in 2014, with the trade balance in Thailandâ€™s favour as its exports amounted to $874 million. Major import products from Thailand include fabrics, textiles, vehicles and parts, air-conditioners and parts, plastics, and chemical goods.
Pakistan wants to have FTA with Thailand as it already has an FTA with Malaysia in the same region, which has been operational since 2008 as well as a PTA with Indonesia active since September 2013. Government quarters believe that in addition to textile and clothing sector, agriculture and food group products can also be easily exported to the ASEAN region.
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