Top Thai team to Russia to boost trade

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Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday led a top public and private sector delegation on an official visit to Russia and Belarus with plans to promote trade and investment as well as to push for possible negotiations concerning the planned Free Trade Area (FTA).

Gen Prawit was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusriphitak on the official visit from February 23 – 26.

This visit is in preparation for Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s official visit scheduled for May 18 – 19 where he will be attending the Russia – ASEAN summit.

This meeting is an important one as it also represents the 20 year anniversary of Thailand’s membership in the Russia – ASEAN partnership.

Commerce Minister Aphiradee Tantraphorn stated that 60 members from the Thai private sector were on the trip.

They will be negotiating trade and investment agreements as well as to see if any obstacles to trade can be overcome. This is especially so for Thai livestock produce exports to Russia where in the past it took a long time before they were approved.

Talks will be aimed at finding ways to possibly shorten protocols so that Thai livestock produce can enter the country much faster, she said.

In the past bi-lateral trade between Russia and Thailand amounted to approximately US$2.4 billion a year with Russia enjoying a significant balance of trade advantage.

At present however Russia’s economy has stalled due to the massive slump in global oil prices.

This in turn will pose a certain degree of difficulty for accurate valuation of trade between both nations.

On top of this, the team will also be focusing on negotiating Free Trade Area trade agreements with the Eurasian Economic Union which is made up of Russia Federation, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic Kazakhstan, the Republic of Armenia and the Kyrgyzstan Republic.

In all, these countries contain a total of 180 million in population and Russia has expressed its desire for Thailand to enter into negotiations with its members.

It is expected that when the FTA is officially established, both countries will enjoy mutual benefits, she added.