The EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) met online with Thai representatives on 23 and 27 November 2020 to discuss the possible resumption of the negotiations of an EFTA-Thailand free trade agreement. On 23 November the EFTA PC met with Honourable Chuan Leekpai, President of the National Assembly and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Thailand as well as with several Committee Chairs from the House of Representatives. On 27 November, the EFTA PC met with Dr Sansern Samalapa, the Thai Vice Minister of Commerce. The EFTA delegation was led by Mr Svein Roald Hansen, Chair of the EFTA PC.
In his statements, Mr Hansen said that the EFTA PC “supports the resumption of the negotiations and believes that a free trade agreement would provide new opportunities for both Thai and EFTA companies and businesses, as well as for EFTA and Thai people to cooperate”. He further stressed that “EFTA parliamentarians express their full support for the process. We commit to engage in our respective parliaments as well as with the civil society in our home country”.
Honourable Chuan Leekpai said “following the general elections of March 2019, we are now back on track to resume the negotiations”. “I can assure you that the Thai parliament will expedite the ratification process of an EFTA-Thailand Free Trade Agreement when it will be presented to the parliament in due course”, he added.
Mr Samalapa, the Vice Minister of Commerce, stressed that “EFTA and Thailand are important trade partners with trade patterns complementing each other. There are ample opportunities to expand further bilateral trade and investment”. He further added that consultations were currently ongoing and that “we expect that by mid-2021, the Ministry of Commerce will propose a revised negotiation mandate to be endorsed by the cabinet of Ministers”.
The negotiations towards a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand were launched in October 2005. Two rounds of negotiations were concluded until their interruption due to the political situation in Thailand. In December 2019, EFTA formally proposed to Thailand that negotiations be resumed. First exploratory talks took place in March 2020. The EFTA PC intends to undertake a formal working visit to Thailand in 2021 if the situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic allows.
The EFTA Parliamentary Committee is a forum for parliamentarians from the four Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The role of the Committee is to advise EFTA States on all issues relevant to EFTA such as its relations with trade partners worldwide.
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