Thailand has witnessed a significant uptick in its exports under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) during the first seven months of 2023, reaching an impressive 74% utilization rate, as disclosed by the Director General of the Department of Foreign Trade within the Ministry of Commerce.
The utilization of trade benefits through FTAs from January to July 2023 amounted to a staggering US$46,183.48 million, representing nearly three-quarters of rights exercised. The statistics reveal that among the FTAs, the top five with the highest exercise of rights are as follows:
1. ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (US$16,487.78 million): This agreement recorded a utilization rate of 72.72%, with the highest exports being directed to Indonesia (valued at US$4,186.74 million), followed by Malaysia (US$4,022.77 million), Vietnam (US$3,663.11 million), and the Philippines (US$2,850.93 million). The FTA includes vital products such as vehicles for transporting goods (weighing not exceeding 5 tons), sugar, petroleum and bituminous mineral oils, and cars for transporting people (1,500-2,500 cc) and air conditioners.
2. ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) (US$14,264.86 million): ACFTA reported a substantial utilization rate of 93.97%. Notably, this agreement covers important products such as fresh durian, synthetic rubber products mixed with natural rubber, cassava, sugars (including chemically pure lactose, maltose, glucose, and fructose), guava, mango, and mangosteen.
3. Thailand-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) (US$3,758.38 million): JTEPA boasted a utilization rate of 71.66% and included products like frozen chicken meat, dextrin, modified starch, copper wire, and cable, oil lighter sacks and bags made from polyethylene polymers, and flavored shrimp.
4. Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) (US$3,344.63 million): TAFTA achieved a utilization rate of 60.68%. Notable products in this agreement include automobiles and other vehicles (with diesel engine or semi-diesel), personal transport vehicles of 2,500 cc or more, air conditioning components, flavored tuna, and personal transport vehicles sized 1,000-1,500 cc.
5. ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA) (US$3,085.65 million): AIFTA recorded a utilization rate of 67.44% and included products like copper wire, organo-inorganic compounds, receivers for radio broadcasting, air conditioner components, and polymers of vinyl chloride or of halogenated olefins.
Additionally, for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during January-July 2023, exports were directed to 10 countries, including Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Myanmar. The total exercise value of US$810.35 million represented a 54.22% expansion compared to the same period in the previous year. Important export products under the RCEP agreement include lubricating oil, energy drinks, canned tuna, cassava strips, spark plugs, and optical objects such as lenses, prisms, and mirrors.
The Director General of the Department of Foreign Trade emphasized that Thailand is party to agreements under 14 FTAs with 18 trading partners. Utilizing the rights provided by these agreements is essential for Thai exporters to reduce or exempt import customs duties in the destination country, thereby creating a competitive advantage and stimulating orders. However, exporters are reminded to comply with the various regulations and measures associated with the rules of origin of goods to fully realize these rights.