EU and Thailand Resume Talks on Free Trade Agreement

The European Union and ASEAN member state Thailand re-launched on March 15 negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with a focus on sustainability. 

The trade talks could pave the way for deeper trade ties with the second largest economy in Southeast Asia and further strengthen the EU’s strategic engagement with this region, the European Commission said in a statement.

The EU and Thailand first launched negotiations for an FTA in 2013, but these were put on hold in 2014, following the military takeover in the Southeast Asian country.

Now the EU and Thailand will aim, via the FTA, to boost trade and investment by addressing a wide range of issues including market access for goods, services, investment, and government procurement; swift and effective Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary procedures; the protection of intellectual property rights including Geographical Indications, and the removal of obstacles to digital trade and trade in energy and raw materials, thereby supporting the digital and green transitions.

Sustainability will also be at the heart of this agreement, with robust and enforceable disciplines on Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD), the Commission said.

The EU and Thailand already have well-established trade relations, as the EU is Thailand’s 4th largest trade partner. The EU-Thailand trade in goods was worth over €42 billion in 2022, while trade in services was worth over €8 billion in 2020.

Thailand, the second largest economy in the ASEAN region, is the EU’s 4th most important trading partner in the region (and 25th worldwide). The EU is also the third largest investor in Thailand, representing around 10 percent of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country, and the second largest destination of Thai FDI, accounting for nearly 14 percent of total Thai FDI.