Thailand, Bangladesh to kick off FTA talks next week hinh anh 1Thai deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhanadirek. (Photo: The Nation)

Bangkok (VNA) Thailand and Bangladesh will kick off talks to establish a free trade agreement (FTA) during their 5th Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting next week.

The two countries will begin negotiations to reduce trade barriers at the January 8 – 9 meeting in Bangkok, deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhanadirek said shortly after the Thai cabinet approved the Ministry of Commerce’s proposal to host the 5th JTC meeting.

The two countries have already conducted a joint feasibility study on the FTA, Rachada added.

If the two sides are able to seal an FTA, it will greatly benefit Thailand's trade and investment because Bangladesh is one of 57 countries that are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Bangladesh is Thailand's third-largest trade partner in South Asia, behind India and Pakistan.

The Thai cabinet has also approved the Ministry of Commerce’s proposal to sign an FTA with Turkey this year, Rachada said.

Thailand looks to improve FTAs under the ASEAN framework in 2020, aiming to extend tariff cuts to cover more products, particularly sensitive items.

ASEAN has FTAs with Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Hong Kong (China). The grouping is in the process of negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with partners.

On a bilateral basis, Thailand has 12 FTAs in place, with 17 trading partners.

In the first 10 months of last year, Thailand's trade value with all 17 FTA partners amounted to 241 billion USD, with exports worth 118 billion USD and imports 123 billion USD.

The trading partners that generated the highest trade value for Thailand were ASEAN (90.7 billion USD), China (65.2 billion USD), Japan (47.7 billion USD), Australia (12.2 billion USD) and the RoK (11.3 billion USD)./.