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EU and Thailand strengthen ties in SME policy, sustainable tourism

On 6 March, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra launched negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. Two rounds have taken place (May and September 2013) and the next round will take place at the beginning of December in Brussels.

BANGKOK – The European Union (EU) and Thailand today strengthened their bilateral ties in Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Policy Dialogue and Sustainable Tourism. Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry Antonio Tajani signed two Letters of Intent for the promotion of business links in these fields. Thai signatories were the Minister of Industry H.E. Mr Prasert Boonchaisuk and the Minister of Tourism and Sports H.E. Mr Somsak Pureesrisak.

In the Letters of Intent, Thailand and the EU pledge to work together towards increased cooperation and exchange of best practices in creating SME-friendly legislation as well as promoting the internationalisation of SMEs, and in promoting sustainable tourism and the overall quality of their tourism services. The signing ceremony followed a meeting between Vice President Tajani and H.E. Mr Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce of Thailand, in which the two discussed topics such as sustainable growth, industrial policy and innovation.

Vice President Tajani’s visit to Thailand is part of a sequence of three ‘Missions for Growth’ in ASEAN that also includes Myanmar and Vietnam. These Missions aim to help European enterprises, especially SMEs, profit from fast-growing international markets. Thailand is one of the most advanced economies in the ASEAN region and an expansion of European companies into its market would bring great benefits to enterprises on both sides. EU enterprises are world leaders in such fields as construction, energy and transportation, in which Thailand has many investment needs.

EU Mission for Growth delegation in Thailand
Vice-President Tajani is accompanied by 40 companies and business associations from 15 EU member states, nearly half of them SMEs. The combined turnover of these companies is € 96 billion (appr. THB 4 trillion) and they employ nearly 500,000 people. The participating business associations represent more than 20 million EU companies with a combined turnover of more than € 41 billion (appr. THB 1.7 trillion). The schedule of the visit also includes a business lunch organised by the European industry in Thailand, European ASEAN Business Centre (EABC), followed by a business matchmaking event organised by the Thai-European Business Association (TEBA).

In 2012, EU-Thailand trade amounted to close to € 32 billion (appr. THB 1.3 trillion). Thailand is the EU’s third largest trading partner within ASEAN (after Singapore and Malaysia) and the EU is Thailand’s third largest trading partner overall (after Japan and China). The EU is also the second largest source of foreign direct investment in Thailand (after Japan).

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