Thailand, Italy agree to expand bilateral export markets

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BANGKOK, Dec 5 – Thailand and Italy agreed to accelerate implementation the Thai-European Union free trade agreement to replace the expiring generalised system of preferences (GSP).  

Thai Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisarn held talks yesterday with Italian Minister for International Trade Carlo Calenta on bilateral trade including Thailand’s GSP with EU which is due to gradually expire from early next year.

Italy is taking the role of EU chairman later next year.

Mr Niwatthamrong proposed tax exemption for Thai products to EU countries until the free trade agreement (FTA) is reached.

The two ministers agreed that the Thai-EU FTA should be wrapped up earlier than late next year, as originally scheduled, and the FTA could replace GSP which is due to expire soon.

The two ministers also discussed preparations for an upcoming visit of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano who will be accompanied by 200 businessmen next July.

Mr Calenta asked Thailand to relax the new industrial standards which will be enforced next year, saying the standards were partly too tough for Italian traders to follow.

On the second day of the World Trade Organisation meeting yesterday, Mr Niwatthamrong announced Thailand’s intention to help least development countries by exempting tax for nearly 7,000 items of products which have been subject to a 73 per cent tax.