Thailand to support farmers, entrepreneurs in tapping RCEP potential

July 29, 2020

Thailand's Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday that it will begin to train farmers and entrepreneurs on how to tap into the benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year.

"We will need to quickly train our farmers and entrepreneurs before the RCEP agreement is signed by member nations in November in Vietnam," Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Ministry's Department of Trade Negotiations.

The RCEP involves 16 countries, including the 10 ASEAN members, plus 6 countries where ASEAN has free trade agreements with, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand.

Auramon confirmed however that India will not be signing the RCEP agreement as of now.

She said Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit had instructed her department to come up with measures to maximize the benefits that Thailand will get from the RCEP agreement.

The Department of Trade Negotiations has surveyed Thai export markets and found that such products as fruit, vegetable oil, cereal, tapioca starch, seafood, processed food and fruit juice will benefit from tax exemption under RCEP, she said.

"The department will notify Thai farmers and entrepreneurs of business opportunities in the manufacturing and exporting of these products as well as negotiate with business partners to expand export markets in RCEP member countries," Auramon said.

"Products from Thailand have been positively welcomed by many countries during the COVID-19 situation as we are one of the few countries who are able to control the outbreak with minimal impact on the agricultural sector."

The Department of Trade Negotiations released latest data, indicating that in 2019 Thailand exported agricultural products worth 25.2 billion U.S. dollars to 16 RCEP member countries.

In the first five months of 2020, exports in this category to RCEP nations were estimated at 10.8 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 2.4 percent year-on-year.

Products that have seen greater demand this year include fresh and frozen fruit, fresh and frozen chicken, canned and processed fruit and fruit juice.