Today (Tuesday 21 June) the UK and Thailand held the first Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO). JETCO provides an important new opportunity to improve bilateral trade, including addressing trade barriers affecting business activity in both countries. The first meeting was hosted by the UK.
UK Minister of State for Trade Policy Penny Mordaunt and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Jurin Laksanawisit had positive and productive talks in London to explore ways to increase bilateral trade and to engage in an ambitious business relationship. They signed a program of work, including government-to-government and government-to-business activities, to advance opportunities for increased trade over the next 12 to 18 months.
Demonstrating the importance of the UK-Thailand trade relationship and building on the productive work done to date, Ministers agreed to develop an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) going forward. This will launch a more ambitious work program aimed at increasing trade across multiple sectors, including undertaking trade policy cooperation, tackling trade barriers and promoting trade and commerce. The ETP could be a first step in laying the groundwork for a potential future FTA.
Ministers established a working group on trade cooperation, to build on the work of the recently completed joint trade review, identifying and removing obstacles to trade and promoting political and commercial cooperation projects.
Minister Jurin and Minister Mordaunt welcomed the progress made in the negotiations and the convening of MC12 in Geneva, and pledged to discuss the outcome of the conference at their next meeting, including reform efforts and modernization of the WTO.
Private sector results
Ministers welcomed the partnership between the Thai-UK Business Leadership Council and the new Thai-UK Business Council as well as the round table organized by the UK-ASEAN Business Council. They agreed to set up a business engagement program to explore the UK and Thailand’s business landscapes, investment programs and national rules and regulations.
Ministers were pleased to note that a Letter of Intent on Digital Cooperation has been signed between the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Thai Department for Digital Economy and Society . This will strengthen digital and technology ties and facilitate opportunities for dialogue between the UK and Thailand on digital cooperation, between the UK and Thailand, enabling our economies to harness the benefits of digital technologies and an open and competitive digital economy.
With a view to advancing agricultural trade relations, ministers welcomed an agreement to sign a memorandum of understanding between Thailand’s Department of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the UK Department of Environment, food and rural affairs to establish a government-to-government agricultural dialogue. This will be an annual technical dialogue to address market access, promote policy exchange and develop other areas of collaboration.
Food and drink
Ministers noted the strong potential of the food and beverage sector to contribute to bilateral trade between the two countries. Considering the will of the two parties to strengthen trade in this sector, the ministers considered that trade and economic cooperation should be encouraged, with relevant discussions and activities to be jointly explored.
The two ministers agree that Thailand and the UK should explore opportunities for dialogue to exchange information and better understand the rules and regulations relating to the approval and importation of health products and other related products. The possibility of business twinning in areas of mutual interest was also suggested.
Both sides expressed strong support for conducting a dialogue between government and business to support trade in financial services.
The Thai side expressed its intention to see its central bank deepen its multilateral engagement in the area of innovation and financial standards, including by strengthening cooperation with global regulators and supervisors helping to shape the approaches to innovation and global standards.
The UK is committed to continuing its longstanding partnership with Thai financial regulators on fintech and sustainable finance. We have agreed on a work program for this year and beyond that builds on the experiences of the UK to support the continued development of the financial services sector in Thailand. The UK and Thailand also continue to explore broader opportunities to increase bilateral trade and investment in financial services.
Trade promotion and investment activities
Ministers welcomed the depth and breadth of the UK-Thailand trade relationship and pledged to continue trade and investment promotion activities in various sectors including education, infrastructure and energy.
Bilateral economic relationship
In 2021, the value of trade between Thailand and the UK was £4.8 billion for goods and services. Thailand was the UK’s 40th largest trading partner in 2021, accounting for 0.4% of total UK trade. Thailand was also the UK’s 38th largest importer, accounting for 0.4% of total UK imports and the 46th largest export market, accounting for 0.3% of UK exports. The UK was Thailand’s 22nd largest trading partner in 2021, accounting for 1.0% of total Thai trade. The UK was the 25th largest importer in Thailand, accounting for 0.8% of Thai imports and the 19th largest export market, accounting for 1.3% of Thai exports.
The new UK-Thailand JETCO places greater emphasis on the UK’s deep relationship in the wider Asia-Pacific region. As ASEAN’s newest dialogue partner, the UK is committed to further deepening its engagement with the region, through multilateral and bilateral forums, including those with Thailand.
JETCO will be followed by the fourth UK-Thailand Strategic Dialogue on June 30, further highlighting the strength of the economic relationship.