ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand's private sector urged to use FTAs
According to Thawatchai Sophastienphong, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the World Trade Organization (WTO) said Thailand had currently become a full-fledged international trader as the ratio of the country's international trade to its gross domestic product (GDP) is as high as 106.9 per cent.
Speaking at a panel discussion on "The Direction of World Trade in the Next Decade" held to provide advice and knowledge to small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), he at the same time he cautioned that the dependence on international trade would expose Thailand to external volatilities.
However, Thailand's export structure had changed as it relied more on developing countries as export destinations.
At present, the country's exports to existing major destinations such as the United States, the European Union and Japan have dropped to 33.1 per cent from 53.2 per cent of the total shipments in 1999.
At the same time, exports to developing countries have increased to 34.9 per cent from 22.5 per cent in 1999.
He said the shift of the export destinations is consistent with Thailand's trade negotiations with a focus on making FTA agreements within the bilateral framework with ASEAN and with such countries as Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.
He also advised that the Thai private sector focus on cashing in on existing FTA agreements with many countries to gain trade benefits and boost the country's competitiveness.
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