LEADING THE WAY
Thailand and the European Union opened the first round of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations in May this year. A number of Thai businesses now enjoying low or zero import duties in the 28-country EU market (Croatia joined on July 1) hope the FTA will help them maintain their competitiveness in the EU market.
The FTA talks have taken on some urgency because Thai products will no longer enjoy favourable duty treatment under the EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from 2015, as Thailand will be deemed sufficiently developed to not need preferential access to the market. Other exporters that do not currently benefit from GSP will be expecting to gain a benefit for their exports as well.
Some of the concerns in Thailand are intellectual property protection related to access to medicines and opening the market for sensitive EU exports. However, there is still a looming issue that has not been as widely publicised and would affect almost all Thai exporters using the EU FTA. In short, the rules required by the EU in FTAs differ from those in other FTAs that Thailand has signed.
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