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NEWS UPDATES 10 January 2010

Thailand sets up FTA hotline to help business operators

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In order to facilitate business operators and exporters regarding any doubts about the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) enforced since January 1, Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce has established an Afta Hotline, using the number 1385, so that government officials can receive and answer questions on a daily basis, according to national news agency TNA.

Commerce Minister Pornthiva Nakasai said after presiding at the opening of the Asean Hotline 1385 on Friday that the establishment of the service was made following an order given by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to help business operators and to answer questions from the general public.

Pornthiva said the Thai government has also set up a special fund to help business operators negatively affected by Afta so that they could compete more effectively in the world market.

Currently, the Asean market is the key market for Thai export products, and it is expected that it will replace major import markets including the United States, Japan and the European Union in the future, she said.

This year, the commerce ministry projects that exports to Asean will grow between 10-15 per cent, Pornthiva said. Afta is now enforced in six out of 10 Asean member countries. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar which joined the regional grouping later will implement their free trade zone in 2015.

Director-General Vichak Visetnoi of the ministry’s Foreign Trade Department said he was optimistic that Thailand would benefit from Afta and in order to help business operators fully understand the benefit, the ministry would hold a major seminar in February so that operators can apply the advantages offered as much as possible.

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