Exploratory discussions towards a Canada-Thailand free trade agreement
On March 23, 2012, Canada and Thailand announced they will pursue exploratory talks to examine the potential economic benefits of a free trade agreement. Such an agreement would enhance the existing relationship between the two countries, and would help Canadian exporters establish a stronger commercial presence and compete more effectively in a region of rapid economic expansion. The Government will ensure the interests and concerns of Canadian stakeholders are taken into account during the exploratory discussions.
Thailand is Canada’s largest bilateral merchandise trading partner within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It has a population of almost 66 million and an economy that experienced significant economic growth in 2010, expanding by 7.8 percent. Thailand's geographic position at the centre of ASEAN, its strong transport infrastructure, and its focus on foreign investment have made it a regional manufacturing hub and home to a significant petrochemical industry.
In 2011, Canada’s bilateral merchandise trade with Thailand totalled nearly $3.5 billion, an increase of 14.8 percent over 2010. Canadian exports to Thailand were valued at $839 million, and consisted mainly of wood pulp, cereal and fertilizer. That same year, merchandise imports from Thailand were valued at $2.7 billion and included electrical and electronic equipment, machinery, meat and fish preparations.
In 2010, Canadian direct investment in Thailand was valued at $890 million. Canadian companies are active in the Thai market in a number of sectors, including information and communication technology, agriculture, aerospace and clean technology, and in recent years, Canadian companies have made significant investments in Thailand. Most notable investments in Thailand are in the financial services and electronics manufacturing sectors.
In 2010, Thai investment in Canada was valued at $2 million. However, Statistics Canada’s methodology for recording direct investment does not capture indirect investments of Canadian companies in Thailand and vice versa, suggesting that the actual figure for overall bilateral investment between the two countries is much higher. For example, in November 2010, an announcement was made regarding a $2.3 billion investment by the Thai state-owned oil firm PTT in an Alberta oil sands project.
Canada and Thailand have a strong relationship with deepening links between the countries, particularly in areas related to trade and investment, and security. Last year, more than 23,000 Thais visited Canada for tourism, study, or work while 193,000 Canadians visited Thailand. An estimated 5,000 Canadians live in Thailand.