Thai Prime Minister Wants Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement Concluded

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Thailand hopes to conclude a free trade zone agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the country’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said during his speech at the recent Far Eastern Economic Forum at the beginning of September.

“We hope that we will be able to conclude a number of free trade agreements with other key economies in various regions, including the EAEU. No doubt that the EAEU has very great potential as a market in the Eurasian region. Thailand intends to continue constructive dialogue with the EAEU member states, including Russia and Kazakhstan, so that we can move together on such an important and urgent agenda,” he said.

He also pointed to the prospects of the Far East as a link between Russia and the Asia-Pacific region. Chan-o-cha stressed that the Far Eastern region fits well into the Russian concept of creating a Greater Eurasian Partnership.

“In this regard, I see a large number of opportunities for further cooperation to strengthen ties in the spheres of infrastructure, trade, investment, exchange of experience in the development of tourism and the creation of special economic zones,” the Prime Minister added.

In addition, he said that Thailand is actively developing the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which is located along the east coast of the kingdom and is a popular tourist destination. Chan-o-cha mentioned the similarity of this region to the Russian Far East, adding that they both have enormous potential. He called on foreign investors to invest their capital in digital technologies, healthcare, and smart logistics in the EEC, noting that the region has excellent infrastructure and modern mechanisms to stimulate investment.

The EAEU is a Eurasian Free Trade bloc including Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Observer status has been granted to Moldova, Uzbekistan, and Cuba. The EAEU has already signed free trade agreements in ASEAN with Vietnam and Singapore, with another 50 proposals received from various countries and associations to establish free trade with the EAEU.

Russia-Thai bilateral trade is currently running at about US$4 billion, although the two governments have expressed a desire to increase that to US$10 billion by 2023.  Thai exports to Russia in 2020 totaled US$958 million, with key export items including automobiles, auto components and rubber, while imports from Russia accounted for US$2.17 billion, led by crude oil, steel, arms, and fertilizers.

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