“After TAFTA was signed, our countries enjoyed an even stronger relationship” said HE Mr Sommai Phasee, Thai Minister of Finance, in his keynote address. The bilateral trade relationship still has much potential, particularly with Thailand as a gateway for Australian trade and investment into ASEAN.
Over 100 guests from the private and public sectors discussed leveraging the commercial relationship in ways to contribute to both countries’ economic prosperity.
Mr Innes Willox, CEO of the Australian Industry Group, told the forum “Ten years on, now is the perfect timing for TAFTA to be revisited, analysed again and re-examined in the paradigm of the new global economy”. He added “the challenge of Australia and Thai trade negotiators and businesses is to reinvigorate TAFTA in a way that is relevant to businesses today and the needs of both countries.”
Mr Niels Strazdins, Head Research Manager of the Export Council of Australia, said Thailand was a market ripe for Australian expertise in education and training, healthcare, human resources and staffing, IT and supply chain services. “Greater regional integration may be the catalyst which attracts more Australian business to Thailand and the region. TAFTA and the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement provide the foundation that can underpin this route” he told the forum.
“AustCham’s forum was an important gathering. Our trade policy settings could be updated to provide better access to the markets of both countries across a number of sectors, but with a particular focus on services and agricultural sectors, as well as investment, as identified to us by industry. The business perspectives we heard at AustCham’s forum should play an important part in how both Governments approach our free trade agreements,” Australian Ambassador to Thailand HE Mr Paul Robilliard said.
The forum was supported by the Australian Embassy Bangkok, the Australian Trade Commission, and the Australia-Thailand Institute.