Oct 15, 2012

Thailand - Panel to tackle non-tariff trade barriers in region

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The Foreign Trade Department plans to set up a committee to monitor and eliminate non-tariff barriers (NTBs), which are emerging in increasing numbers amid a blossoming of free-trade agreements (FTAs).

The panel will prioritise the monitoring of NTBs in the Asean Free-Trade Area (Afta) following the 2015 launch of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) to ensure that the goal of a seamless market is not be hindered by such trade barriers.

Piramol Charoenpao, director-general of the department, said the government would cooperate with private-sector organisations to set up a special panel to monitor the rise of NTBs in the trade of farm and industrial goods, and in the service sector, to ensure sufficient penetration of trading partners' markets.

"The financial crunch and the slowing recovery of the world economy have caused a rise in the number of non-tariff barriers. Despite the FTAs, Thailand's exports could be impacted by measures imposed by many countries that want to reduce trade deficits and protect domestic manufacturers," Piramol said.

The committee will closely watch for NTBs. Where it finds them, it will call for clarification from trading partners for the reasons for the NTB and call for the elimination of the barrier if possible. If that process does not work, the NTB issue would be raised at meetings of economic ministers with the trading partner in question in order to get rid of those barriers and facilitate trade growth.

After setting up panels to monitor NTBs under Afta, the panel will expand the scope of its work to other FTAs entered into by Thailand. In addition, the department has urged Thai enterprises to maximise the benefits they reap from the FTAs, saying that the pacts will help facilitate export growth.

So far, about 55 per cent of Thai enterprises export goods under FTAs. The remainder have failed to exercise their FTA privileges because of a lack of knowledge about the benefits of each pact, according to the department.


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