AMCHAM Membership Meeting with Ms. Auramon Supthaweethum, Director General, Department of Trade Negotiations

AMCHAM Membership Meeting with Ms. Auramon Supthaweethum, Director General, Department of Trade Negotiations

On January 19, AMCHAM Thailand hosted its first Membership Meeting of 2021 with Ms. Auramon Supthaweethum, Director General of the Department of Trade Negotiations in Thailand, who presented to nearly 70 attendees. Tibor Pandi, AMCHAM Vice President and Country Head of Citi, introduced the keynote speaker and spoke about the Chamber’s mission to connect businesses and provide a platform to exchange ideas and address the oncoming challenges.

Ms. Auramon spoke about the status of several trade agreements that Thailand has in progress and shared detailed information on what the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement means for members. She highlighted the importance of the Thai-U.S. partnership. As long-standing friends and business partners, the Treaty of Amity was signed in 1833 and as a result, trading between the two countries took off. In 2020, the trade value was 4.5 billion U.S. Dollars which accounted for over 11percent of the total value of Thailand’s trade, making the U.S. one of Thailand’s top three most important trading partner. On a global scale, Thailand is currently in 13 trade agreements with 18 other trading partners including the 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, China, Chile, and Peru. ­

In November last year, Thailand signed the RCEP (agreement along with 15 other nations and is currently in the works to ratify it with the parliament’s approval. Director General Auramon noted that Thailand considers this regional grouping to be extremely important, especially  during Covid- 19, since over two thirds of their trade belong to this grouping. As ASEAN was one of the central focus of RCEP, the average tariff elimination between ASEAN and other members in the agreement was considerably higher at 90-92 percent of total tariff lines as compared to 80-86 percent between other members. Moreover, Thailand managed to negotiate additional tariff eliminations in several key products including processed foods, electronics, plastic, chemicals, auto parts, agricultural products, etc.

E-commerce was a main chapter discussed during the negotiation of the RCEP agreement as one of the fastest-growing sectors in ASEAN. The agreement committed member companies to facilitate the trade of cross-border e-commerce and create a conducive environment for the sector in the region, mainly by providing the necessary rules and regulations on online consumer protection and online personal information protection. In addition, the Intellectual Property chapter discusses how RCEP members are required to adopt appropriate measures to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights, but also in a way that it does not prohibit legal or legitimate trade. Finally, some other focuses of the agreement were on competition law, Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs), economic and technical cooperation, and government procurement.

Director General Auramon explained that the Minster of Commerce has instructed her department to work on launching new Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with EU, EFTA, UK, EAEU and Canada. If order to launch FTAs with any new countries, her department would have to commission an external research institute to conduct a study on the proposed FTA as well as a public hearing to get comments from stakeholders (private sector and civil society). Once both these steps are completed, they may submit the FTA to be approved by the Cabinet.

The session ended with a Questions and Answers session, moderated by AMCHAM Executive Director, Heidi Gallant. AMCHAM members questioned the Director General on topics ranging from the FTA with Pakistan, the status and Thailand’s next step for CPTPP, updated Cabinet decision on Thai-EU FTA, liberation of service sector due to RCEP, and cross-border e-commerce tax and duties policy.




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