European Union trade and cooperation pact with Thailand to be finalised this year. It will include visa-free access for Thai passport holders. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin plans to visit France and Italy next week as the kingdom cements closer ties with the bloc.

The government is confident that a new trade and cooperation framework will be unveiled this year with the European Union. Among the provisions will be visa-free access to the Schengen zone for Thai passport holders. It will also include a free trade agreement, which will boost Thailand’s efforts to attract inward investment. The news comes ahead of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s visit to France and Italy this week.

The announcement came from Prime Minister’s Office Minister Jakkapong Sangmanee, who attended an event hosted by the European Union at the Conrad Hotel in Bangkok. European Union Ambassador David Daly (left) addressed the gathering. Mr Jakkapong said an agreement between Thailand and the 27-member bloc would be unveiled this year. It would include Schengen Zone visa-free access for Thai passport holders.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister’s Office Minister Jakkapong Sangmanee announced that Thailand hoped to finalise a free trade pact with the European Union this year.

Talks with the 27-member bloc commenced in September in Brussels. Afterwards, the second leg of the talks was held in Bangkok in January 2024. The final stage of talks is due to take place within the European Union in June.

Minister Jakkapong was formerly deputy minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the end of April cabinet reshuffle.

Thailand-EU Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation pact to include a provision for Thai nationals to enjoy visa-free access to the EU Schengen zone

In addition to the trade aspect, the minister talked of Thailand ratifying a Thailand-EU Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement this year. Part of this pact will be the green light for Thai passport holders to access the Schengen zone without a visa.

The Schengen zone includes 26 European Union countries and Iceland. In particular, it excludes Ireland which has a Common Travel Area with the United Kingdom.

PM and Macron discuss visa-free access for Thai nationals in the European Union’s Schengen zone

‘The FTA will not only stimulate economic growth in both regions but also benefit their businesses and supply chain,’ Minister Jakkapong explained. He was attending an event organised by the European Union in Thailand to mark Europe Day on May 9th.

‘To allow more convenient people-to-people connectivity, Thailand hopes for support from the EU to allow Thai nationals to enter the Schengen zone without the visa requirement.’

Thailand needs European Union access to compete for investment with Vietnam. Lack of access to the key market has impeded the kingdom’s efforts since 2020

In addition, a free trade pact and easier access to the European Union market will help Thailand attract inward investment. Since the 2020 pact between the European Union and Vietnam, Thailand has been at a disadvantage against its key competitor for inward investment.

The news came at the event last Wednesday, in Bangkok at the Conrad Hotel.

Mr David Daly, the European Union ambassador to Thailand, addressed a business and diplomatic gathering. In short, it was to celebrate Europe Day. At length, he explained the background to the occasion.

It was to celebrate 74 years since the Schuman Declaration. This was issued by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman, on May 9th, 1950.

In short, it was an agreement among the founders of the European Coal and Steel Community. The members of the 6 nation alliance agreed to work together and pool resources in relation to coal and steel production.

The founding countries were France, West Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Afterwards, the European Economic Community emerged and expanded from this alliance in 1957.

In turn, this entity grew and changed its name to become the 27-member European Union bloc today.

Bilateral trade between European Union and Thailand worth €1 billion a week or ฿39.7 billion

On Wednesday, Mr Daly revealed that bilateral trade between Thailand and the European Union now amounted to €1 billion a week or ฿39.7 billion. He is confident that a new free trade pact will certainly boost this figure.

At the same time, the European Union bloc is also, at this time, Thailand’s third-largest source of inbound investment. In short, the 27-member bloc has created over 160,000 jobs in Thailand.

In addition, it is the kingdom’s second most important tourism market after China.

The European Union ambassador especially praised Thailand’s diplomatic efforts to bring peace to Myanmar. He also praised the kingdom’s ongoing campaign to prevent illegal fishing and stamp out labour abuses within the industry.

Prime Minister set to visit Europe on a 6-day trip

The news comes ahead of a 6-day visit to Europe this week from May 15th to 21st by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. The focus of the PM’s visit will be France and Italy.

On a previous trip in March, Mr Srettha developed a strong rapport with French President Emmanuel Macron. On this trip, the French leader will convene the Thailand-France Business Forum.

The Thai leader will promote the government’s ‘Ignite Thailand 2025’ initiative in both countries.

Later in May, Mr Srettha will again visit Japan to meet key business leaders and participate in the Nikkei Forum.

That visit will be from May 22nd to 24th. This is a speaking forum which will be held this year in Tokyo. The theme will be ‘Asian leadership in an uncertain world’.

The Prime Minister is expected to meet many key business leaders and industrialists.

‘It is a good opportunity to encourage further investment in Thailand,’ Mr. Srettha explained to his followers on the social media site X.

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