BANGKOK (Reuters) - The European Union aims to resume negotiations with Thailand on a free trade agreement (FTA), the Council of the European Union said in a statement, after suspending trade talks following a 2014 military coup.
Thailand held general elections in March and a pro-army coalition of parties has formed a government, officially ending five years of military rule.
“The Council now considers it appropriate for the EU to take steps towards broadening its engagement with Thailand,” it said in a statement late on Monday.
Part of this effort includes preparations to sign a Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA), which was aimed at closer economic and political ties with Thailand, and resuming trade negotiations with Southeast Asia second-largest economy.
“The Council also stresses the importance of taking steps towards the resumption of negotiations on an ambitious and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement,” it said.
Trade between the EU and Thailand is valued at about 38 billion euros ($42 billion) in 2018, according to the European Commission.
The EU is Thailand’s third-largest export market, with Thailand selling 22.9 billion euros worth of goods and services to it, mainly machinery and transport equipment.
After the military overthrew a civilian government in 2014, the EU said it would keep its relations with Thailand under review and put on hold the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the FTA.
The EU resumed political contact with Thailand in 2017.
Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Robert Birsel