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Thailand touts FTA benefits

March 11, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59An early conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) for South and Southeast Asia is essential to stimulate regional trade and enhance integration between its members, Thailand has told the third Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit.

Permanent secretary for Foreign Affairs Sihasak Phuangketkeow told the BIMSTEC summit, which ended on Tuesday in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, that a BIMSTEC FTA would unlock the full benefits of economic ties and help rebalance Asian growth toward domestic and regional markets.

BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand. The FTA is a key tool for developing regional trade and investment but member states are not all at the same stage of readiness to adopt it.

Thailand has been trying to push BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement negotiations. It has also played a key role in developing good agricultural practices, including organic agriculture, promoting energy security and cooperation, and in combating terrorism and transnational crime. image

Mr Sihasak represented caretaker premier Yingluck Shinawatra and caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul at the ministerial level.

He also urged BIMSTEC to embrace green growth, while accelerating the dissemination of green technology as a way to ensure sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development.

The summit, under the theme “Partnership for Harmony and Prosperity”, was attended by the leaders of the other BIMSTEC member countries.

Thailand suggested BIMSTEC also look into technology promotion and knowledge transfer in areas of food security, environment and health. It also supported the role of the BIMSTEC Business Forum in promoting cooperation in the private sector, which will result in economic development and reduce poverty and development gaps in the region, Mr Sihasak said.

He said the region also needs to boost resilience against natural disasters and climate change which have triggered new threats and could derail economic growth.

Written by : Andrew J Wood

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