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Thailand to start talks soon on trade deal with Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union

By William Stewart
26 February 2018

Trade could triple to $10 billion a year in ‘win-win’ deal, say Thai experts.

Picture: Alexander Korolkov/RG.

A deal with the bloc would lower tariffs and sharply  increase trade which currently stands at $3.3 billion annually, said Timur Akhametzhanov, a diplomat with the Kazakh Embassy in Bangkok.

Vietnam was the first country in Southeast Asia to conclude a pact with the group, helping lift trade by 32% in 2017.  

The Eurasian Economic Union comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. 

The bloc's combined gross domestic product, at $4 trillion, is equal to around 3% of global GDP.

A deal for Thailand was first mooted by Russian premier Dmitry Medvedev when prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha visited Moscow two years ago. 

A number of Thai companies have already invested in the bloc’s countries.

Agricultural conglomerate CPF bought Russian poultry dealer Agro-Invest Brinky B.V. in 2015.

There has been investment  in spas, chemicals and food-processing in the union in the past few years.

Forecasting a tripling in trade to $10 billion by 2020, Oramon Sapthaweetham, director-general of Thailand’s Trade Negotiations Department, said FTA will also spur inbound investment from the EEU, particularly Russian investment in Thailand’s  Eastern Economic Corridor. 

The special economic zone, which spans three coastal provinces east of Bangkok, is designed to host high-tech industries.

Recently, a group of Russian representatives visited the corridor and signed a memorandum of understanding for a feasibility study, said Oramon.

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