BANGKOK, Sep 18 – The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and India will provide tax privilege benefits to at least another 900 Thai items for goods categorised under ‘Product Specific Rules’ (PRS) and merchandise needing Rules of Origin requirements, according to Thailand’s Trade Negotiations Department director-general.
Thai representatives, led by Director-General Srirat Rastapana, recently went to India for to meet their Indian counterparts at the 21th Thailand-India Trade Negotiating Committee in the capital, New Delhi, to negotiate free trade, services, investment, and other economic cooperation between the two nations.
Other benefits from the negotiation included creative economy, construction, tourism, and the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Beginning in 2004, the Thailand-India Free Trade Agreement covered trade in goods by 2010. To speed up tariff reductions, both countries agreed to implement an Early Harvest Program (EHS) for 82 items of merchandise which had tariffs reduced to 0 per cent –entirely removed– since Sept 2006.
Bilateral negotiations later stopped, as India needed to prioritise its free trade with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Thailand and India resumed negotiations in Dec 2010 and agreed the bilateral FTA with improved benefits to the ASEAN-India FTA, complying with Thailand’s goal to become India’s partner at a strategic level, for instance, increasing number of goods to penetrate market and the period of tax reduction and/or cancellation faster to that of the ASEAN-India FTA.
India is Thailand’s number one trading partner in South Asia and is the door for Thailand to other markets in the region such as Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. In the world market, India is Thailand’s 17th ranked trading partner and number 11 as an export market.
Bilateral trade between the countries in the first half of 2010 was valued at US$4.1 billion, a 29 per cent increase year-on-year. Of the total, Thailand’s exports to India were worth $2.6 billion, while its imports from India were $1.5 billion.