Thailand, Germany agree to speed up EU-Thai free trade agreement


BERLIN, July 19 – The leaders of Thailand and Germany have agreed to accelerate negotiations to conclude a free trade agreement between Thailand and the European Union (EU) as a key mechanism to boost mutual trade and investment.

The decision was made as visiting Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra met German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery on Wednesday, the first day of her official visit marking the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Germany.

“ASEAN has a free trade agreement with China. This makes it even more important that the European Union reaches a free trade agreement with Thailand, and potentially with the whole of ASEAN too,” the DPA news agency quoted the German chancellor as saying.

Ms Yingluck emphasised that Thai-German partnership would contribute to sustainable growth and employment.

Bilateral trade and investment would be a mechanism to strengthen the partnership.

European Union products and technology are necessary for the development of Thailand and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, the Thai premier said.

Thailand is investing in post-flood infrastructure development, Ms Yingluck said. German investors are welcome to invest in Thailand’s infrastructure development and other industries such as auto, autoparts and machinery manufacturing.

The two countries planned to increase trade and investment value through bilateral cooperative mechanisms such as the Joint Thai-German Economic Committee (JEC).

German Economic Minister Philipp Roesler will visit Thailand in September for negotiations to boost trade and investment.

The Thai premier is also seeking German cooperation in product quality certification and standardisation by setting up a joint quality control centre to screen Thai exports to Europe. That will help cut losses on transportation incurred from returning Thai goods failing to meet EU standards.

In addition, Thailand plans to develop its Green Economy in cooperation with Germany. The first talks on shared environmental strategies between the two countries are expected to be held this year, Ms Yingluck said.

The Thai government supports renewable energy and plans to boost its use to 25 per cent of all energy use within ten years. Thailand also promotes environmentally-friendly industries such as bioplastics in close cooperation with Germany in terms of technology transfer.