Thailand Free Trade Agreements

In addition to these rules, exporters must be able to accurately specify their product billings and understand their trade flows. This was a difficult undertaking for Thai companies, as experienced when they were modified the new version (2012) of Thailand`s HS code. Thai Customs asked the exporter (and importer) to indicate the classification of the goods under the new version, which was sometimes different from the previous version. During this period and according to the rules, country of origin (C/O) forms still required the old version of the HS code (2007), which had different references in the customs declaration. The obligation for Thai companies was to meet the requirements of a 2012 tariff change with outdated documentation of 5 years. As the process was difficult, some exporters did not wait for the C/O to be issued on time and skipped the process. What has recently been discussed in Thailand in many sectors and companies is the second largest free trade bloc in the world. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is expected to account for about 40% of Thailand`s trade value. Ten percent of this value will come directly from the three U.S. economies: the United States, Canada and Mexico. None of these countries are currently partners in the free trade agreement with the Thai Free Trade Agreement, making the adoption of the TPP more attractive.

(iii) However, as has been noted worldwide, Thailand`s private sector is concerned that Thailand may lose its competitiveness in terms of import, export and investment attractiveness to other current members of the TPP, which could adversely affect the country`s growth; already noted in recent years in the slow movement. According to the Ministry of Commerce, China (including Hong Kong) is by far Thailand`s largest trading partner, with a total trading value of $79 billion in 2015, with a trade value of $79 billion, followed by Japan with $51 billion and the United States with $38 billion. The other trading partners in the top ten are all Thailand`s neighbors in ASEAN and Asia-Pacific: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and Vietnam. [i] Thailand has signed 12 agreements (6 bilateral and 6 multilateral agreements) with 9 free trade agreements being negotiated or being signed. These agreements could have a huge impact on Thailand`s trade and investment in the years to come. In addition to these examples, there is a specific FTA term called the “Ratchet Mechanism”[1] or “Unilateral liberalisation of new services automatically engages within the framework of this specific agreement.” This mechanism, if included in the free trade clause, is only one way to prevent, particularly for trade in services and investment parties, from modifying or improving national legislation, directives or regulations and not being replaced by more restrictive amendments than previous conditions.

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