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Thailand considers move to slash top import duty from 80% to 20%

Government petitioned to dramatically lower tariffs in order to boost international trade and competitiveness.

Photo: AFTA: Thailand gets ready.
AFTA: Thailand gets ready.

Thailand is considering a proposal to reduce import duties from outside the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) from the current maximum of 80% to below 20%. The move follows the country's Customs Department petitioning the governing National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to make the change in a bid to boost the competitiveness of Thai businesses.

Currently, Thailand imports some 8,000 categories of goods from outside AFTA. The free trade zone agreement specifies a zero-tariff for importing machinery for capital goods, 1% for capital goods, 5% for partially manufactured products, 10% for manufactured products and 20% for protected goods. These agreements have been designed to foster trade relations among the ASEAN community, with any further reduction likely to prove conducive to increased levels of trading.

According to Rakop Srisupaat, the Director General of the Customs Department, Thailand needs to upgrade its customs protocols in line with its economic strategy of liberalising the market and nurturing international trade. In order to meet the anticipated increase in trade volumes following the official 2015 launch of the ASEAN Economic Community, the Customs Department is seeking investment of THB633 million (US$19.5 million) for the provision of 33 new entry points across Thailand.

The Director General said that although several such construction projects were already underway, the department still requires additional equipment – notably portable and fixed x-ray machines – in order to properly process the increased level of imports. The additional funding requirement is currently under discussion between the department, the NCPO and the Public Debt Management Office (PDMO).

Kate Duangrat, Bangkok Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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