The EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) undertook a four-day official visit to Thailand from 5 to 9 September 2022. The aim of the visit was to lend political support to the conclusion of a modern and comprehensive free trade agreement between EFTA and Thailand. It followed the formal resumption of the negotiations on 20 June 2022 in Borgarnes, Iceland.
The EFTA delegation composed of 10 parliamentarians from all EFTA countries was led by Ingibjörg Ólöf Isaksen (the Icelandic Parliament). Reto Wyss joined them, who represented the EFTA Consultative Committee, a forum for trade unions and business associations from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
The EFTA PC first met with Sinit Lertkrai, the Deputy Minister of Commerce of Thailand and with Thani Thongphakdi, Thailand’s Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Referring to the disruption of global value chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Isaksen stressed that “trade and cooperation can help our economic operators to find alternatives in their sourcing and exports and ultimately make our economies more resilient”.
“Thailand is changing its way of thinking by investing in renewables and the circular economy. EFTA countries have the technology to help Thailand modernise and green its economy” opined Mr Thongphakdi.
With the aim of fostering the parliamentary dimension of EFTA’s trade relations, the delegation also met with Chuan Leekpai, the President of the Thai National Assembly and with Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, the President of the Thai Senate. Both were accompanied by several Standing Committee chairs from their respective houses.
Referring to the post-pandemic outlook, Mr Leekpai opined that “Thailand has top medical staff and expertise in the health sector. We need more capacity and technology in the future. Trade and cooperation with EFTA countries can contribute to this objective.”
The working visit also offered the opportunity for EFTA parliamentarians to meet with Thailand’s business organisations, labour associations, civil society representatives and government agencies. The delegation for example met with the Eastern Economic Corridor, a government agency aiming at modernising and greening the Thai economy. Opportunities for exchanging knowledge and best practices between EFTA countries and Thailand were thoroughly discussed.
The EFTA PC also visited the premises and operational facilities of two important EFTA-based companies with a view to discuss the Thai business environment, the companies’ challenges, and their views on the prospects of concluding a trade agreement between EFTA and Thailand.
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.
We are in Bangkok 🇹🇭 this week with #EFTA parliamentarians as part of the ongoing free trade negotiations.— EFTA Secretariat (@EFTAsecretariat) September 5, 2022
To kick off the visit, Norway’s Ambassador hosts 🇮🇸🇱🇮 🇳🇴🇨🇭 parliamentarians for a seminar on Thailand’s political and economic dynamics.
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