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EU, Thailand launch FTA negotiations

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-07 13:43

EU, Thailand launch FTA negotiations

European Commission President Jose Barroso (R) and Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra hold a press briefing at EU's headquaters in Brussels, capital of Belgium, on March 6, 2013. EU and Thailand announced on Wednesday the launch of negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA), seeking to boost bilateral trade which already amounted almost 30 billion euros in 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS - The President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra launched negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and Thailand in Brussels on Wednesday.

"The ambition is to conclude a comprehensive agreement covering tariffs, non-tariff barriers and other trade-related issues, such as services, investment, procurement, regulatory issues, competition, and sustainable development," said a joint statement.

"The first negotiating round is expected to take place before the summer break," said the statement.

"The launch of FTA negotiations marks an important step in EU-Thai relations, already strengthened by a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement," it said.

Thailand is the EU's third largest trading partner inside ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the EU is Thailand's third largest trading partner, with trade between them in 2012 reaching nearly 32 billion euros ($41.6 billion).

The EU is one of the largest investors in Thailand with a total investment value of over 14 billion euros in 2011.

According to the statement, the FTA with Thailand should deliver substantial economic gains and put the EU on a par with countries which have already concluded FTAs with Thailand, including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, etc.

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