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The visit of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee to Thailand

The visit of the EFTA Parliamentary Committee to ThailandEFTA parliamentarians keen on fostering trade with Thailand.

The EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) undertook a four-day official visit to Thailand from 5 to 9 September 2022. The aim of the visit was to lend political support to the conclusion of a modern and comprehensive free trade agreement between EFTA and Thailand. It followed the formal resumption of the negotiations on 20 June 2022 in Borgarnes, Iceland.

The EFTA delegation composed of 10 parliamentarians from all EFTA countries was led by Ingibj√∂rg √ďl√∂f Isaksen (the Icelandic Parliament). Reto Wyss joined them, who represented the EFTA Consultative Committee, a forum for trade unions and business associations from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

The delegation to the EFTA Parliamentary Committee visited the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand on 6 September and was welcomed by Dr Visit Limlurcha, Vice Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, as the Chairman of the European Committee of the Board of Trade of Thailand. Moreover, the Board of Directors of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, including Mr Jiraphant Asvatanakul, Vice Chairman, and Dr Sombat Thiratrakoolchai, Vice Chairman, as well as the Board of Directors of the Board of Trade of Thailand, including Dr Chanintr Chalisarapong, Director of Executive Board, Mr Wiboon Supakornpongkul, Vice Chairman of European Committee, Ms Noppawan Chalongphantharat, Vice Chairwoman of International Trade Agreement Negotiation Committee, together with Ms Vibeke Lyssand Leirvåg, Chairwoman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce and Mr Axel Blom, President of the Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, also participated in this occasion. In this regard, various issues were proposed during the discussion including the development of the migrant workforce management system in the Thai industrial sector, specifically in the fisheries sector, sustainable industrial development in line with Carbon Neutrality, the technology exchange, especially in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and the policy to protect foreign investors within Thailand.

Apart from that, the EFTA PC first met with Sinit Lertkrai, the Deputy Minister of Commerce of Thailand, and with¬†Thani Thongphakdi, Thailand‚Äôs Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Referring to the disruption of global value chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Isaksen stressed that ‚Äútrade and cooperation can help our economic operators to find alternatives in their sourcing and exports and ultimately make our economies more resilient.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThailand is changing its way of thinking by investing in renewables and the circular economy. EFTA countries have the technology to help Thailand modernise and green its economy‚ÄĚ opined Mr Thongphakdi.

With the aim of fostering the parliamentary dimension of EFTA’s trade relations, the delegation also met with Chuan Leekpai, the President of the Thai National Assembly, and with Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, the President of the Thai Senate. Both were accompanied by several Standing Committee chairs from their respective houses.

Referring to the post-pandemic outlook, Mr Leekpai opined that ‚ÄúThailand has top medical staff and expertise in the health sector. We need more capacity and technology in the future. Trade and cooperation with EFTA countries can contribute to this objective.‚ÄĚ

The working visit also offered the opportunity for EFTA parliamentarians to meet with Norwegian and Swiss business organisations in Thailand, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), labour associations, civil society representatives, and government agencies aiming at modernising and greening the Thai economy such as the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI). Opportunities for exchanging knowledge and best practices between EFTA countries and Thailand were thoroughly discussed.

The EFTA PC also visited the premises and operational facilities of two important EFTA-based companies, including Nestlé Purina PetCare Factory, one of members of the Swiss-Thai Chamber of Commerce and Aibel Thailand Laem Chabang yard, one of premium members of the Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, with a view to discuss the Thai business environment, the companies’ challenges, and their views on the prospects of concluding a trade agreement between EFTA and Thailand.

The EFTA Parliamentary Committee is a forum for parliamentarians from the four Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The role of the Committee is to advise EFTA States on all issues relevant to EFTA such as its relations with trade partners worldwide.

Reference
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand

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