India-Thai FTA talks makes slow progress

Thailand keen to seal India-Thai free trade pact

The Dollar Business Bureau

In the wake of the slow progress of the much anticipated India-Thai free trade pact, India has been urged to step up the comprehensive talks with Thailand.

Thailand first wants to resolve the key details of the pact, leaving aside the minor vexing issues for further discussions, said Thai Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn after holding a meeting with the Indian ambassador to Thailand, Bhagwant Singh Bishnoi.

In 2003, India and Thailand inked a framework agreement encompassing the liberalization of trade. Both the sides agreed to commence talks for the pact and establish FTA by 2010. However, the talks were stalled for almost a decade. In 2015, the FTA talks were resumed by Prayut Chan-o-cha government of Thailand.

The talks in June 2015 brought a new twist with India requesting to remove sugar and rubber gaskets from the proposed tariff cuts and Thailand proposing to cover petrochemicals and textiles in the plan.

Both, Thailand and India, also agreed to act on the Early Harvest Scheme, which means agreements on one or more issues must be settled before the scheduled conclusion of multi-issue round.

The agreement gave out the details of tariff reductions under EHS for about 82 items including processed food products, fruits, jewellery and gems, steel and iron products, electronics.

India is the 15th biggest trade partner for Thailand. In the last five years, the trade between the two countries accounted for US$8.47 billion.

In 2015, Thailand enjoyed surplus trade of $2.67 billion with India.

The Dollar Business Bureau - May 18, 2016 12:00 IST