Thailand and the United Kingdom are eying a new bilateral free trade agreement in a bid to maintain economic ties following Britain’s recent referendum vote which could see it exit the European Union.
According to Thai government data, the UK is Thailand’s second-largest trading partner among EU members and 19th globally. Thailand’s trade value with Britain was at $6.4 billion in 2015, down 6.1 percent from $6.8 billion in 2014.
Following a recent visit to Britain July 11-14, Thailand’s Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maisincee said the two countries had committed to stepping up talks to boost trade and investment. As part of this, he said they were considering a new trade pact to ensure that ‘Brexit’ would not affect trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
“The FTA should help promote trade and investment growth between the two sides though the UK will exit the EU. The UK is one of our major export markets among EU countries. Thailand will try to ensure market access under the bilateral trade pact with the UK after its exit from the European Union,” Suvit said according to the Thai newspaper The Nation.
Beyond the FTA, the two countries have also agreed to set up the Thai-UK Business Leadership Council to improve cooperation between their private sectors and to facilitate trade and investment growth. The ceremony to set up the Council was witnessed by UK Rolls-Royce’s International Advisory Board and Thailand’s PTT Plc chief executive officer Tevin Vongvanich.
Thailand is set to host the first meeting of the Council in September or October this year.
Suvit said he had used his trip as an opportunity to encourage Rolls-Royce to move its production base to Thailand, where the government is promoting a range of incentives to woo businesses to boost the country’s economic prospects. Thailand’s ruling junta has identified a list of ten targeted industries being promoted as clusters, part of what is being termed a new economic model called Thailand 4.0.