Thai Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit (R) (Source: VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) – Thai Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit on August 7 pledged to speed up negotiations on bilateral and regional free trade agreement (FTAs), including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the EU-Thailand FTA.

He affirmed that accelerating FTA negotiations is one of the top priorities of the commerce ministry, stressing those on the RCEP need to be completed within this year so that the pact can be ratified by the middle of next year.

The next target is to restart the Thai-EU FTA that has been stalled for years because of political problems, he said, adding that FTA negotiations between Thailand and the EU, the country’s third-largest trading partner, have been put on hold for about five years.

Jurin also revealed he had assigned the officials involved to study the pros and cons of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a newly formed bloc of 11 Pacific Rim nations excluding the US.

The commerce ministry will also give priority to other issues, such as ensuring income for farmers in the fields of palm oil, rubber, rice, tapioca and corn; stepping up the export of farm products, garments, gems and jewellery; and developing service business such as restaurants, spas and elderly care.-VNA