Thailand and EU resume FTA talks
Thailand and the EU will sign a draft Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Agreement to promote bilateral trade and investment in the future as free trade agreement talks resume now that the Thailand has held elections. The talks were put on hold after the coup in 2014. Two-way trade between Thailand and the EU trade rose by 6.5 percent to US$47.3 billion in 2018, accounting for 9.4 percent of the total trading volume. Thai exports to the EU rose 5.2 percent to US$25 billion and imports rose 8.17 percent to US$22.3 billion. Computer parts and components, automobile parts, gems and jewelry, electrical circuits, rubber products, air conditioners and their parts, and processed chicken were key export items to the EU. The EU is seeking to see the service sector opened up through the FTA along with certain goods.
Despite a contraction in exports overseas due to the US – China trade war and a strengthening baht, cross border trade has continued to grow. Malaysia remains the number one trading partner with 270 billion baht in trade, followed by Myanmar at 100 billion baht, Laos at 99 billion baht and Cambodia at 8 billion baht. China continues to be the top partner for through-border trade with 59.54 billion baht in trade, a 39.45 percent increase, followed by Vietnam at 38.565 billion baht, and Singapore at 34.908 billion baht. The most popular products for export to neighboring countries include steel, industrial goods, processed oil, automobile and construction materials. Border and through-border trade is predicted to continue to grow in the second half, the Commerce Ministry predicts it will hit 1.6 trillion baht for the year.
Restaurants are facing transformation as online food delivery continues to grow in Thailand. KResearch predicts that the food delivery business in 2019 will reach 33-35 billion baht, up 14 percent from last year and will account for up to 8 percent of total restaurant business. More and more restaurants are signing up for online food delivery apps as more customers change their dining habits. A survey found that 63 percent of respondents said that online delivery apps have changed their eating habits.