Thailand is set to join talks on a multilateral trade agreement proposed by the United States, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).
The decision will allow Thailand to join other nations that have expressed an interest in negotiating rules and procedures for the IPEF. Some ASEAN members – such as Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia – have already indicated their intentions to become IPEF founding members.
On Friday (20 May), Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit met with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai on the sidelines of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting in Bangkok.
According to Jurin, the U.S. asked Thailand to support the IPEF, which will be announced in France next month. He said he told Tai that the Cabinet on Tuesday agreed on a statement on the IPEF, which is not legally binding but expresses the kingdom’s intention to join the talks.
The Cabinet also explained that the talks on the IPEF will focus on promoting regional economic security and sustainable development, with priorities that include trade, production chain resilience, clean energy, reduction of carbon dioxide, infrastructure, taxation and combating corruption.
Thailand has seven free trade agreements. The latest and largest is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was signed in 2021 and took effect in January of this year.