In November 2013, Thailand and the EU negotiated and concluded a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (APC) that will provide a comprehensive framework for EU-Thailand relations and provide broad opportunities for enhanced cooperation. The EU`s comprehensive approach to bilateral relations with Thailand is set out in the December 2017 Council conclusions. The Kingdom of Thailand is classified as a middle-income country in Southeast Asia. The country ranked 57th out of 132 countries in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Enabling Trade Index (2012), which measures institutions, policies and services to facilitate trade in countries. Despite the financial crisis, natural disasters and political turmoil, the country has maintained a robust and open economy, particularly as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The effectiveness of import and export procedures and the country`s attractiveness to foreign investors are a competitive advantage, as the country continues to impose high import duties and limited market entry. The country`s national strategy aims to strengthen competitiveness in international markets by increasing productivity and preparing for regional economic integration (WEF 2012). Austrade can help Australian companies become familiar with local market conditions and help develop export opportunities through a number of market and Australian services. Thailand`s average MFN tariff, in effect in 2011, was 9.8%. While the average tariff on agricultural products is higher than that applied to non-agricultural products, high average tariffs have been applied for beverages and tobacco, clothing and fruits, vegetables and plants. Although Thai exporters have few trade barriers, the country`s high import tariffs, even applied to small domestic production, serve as trade barriers (Shiino, K. 2012).
The country has imposed a number of regional trade agreements. Among them, Thailand is a founding member of ASEAN, the third largest trading bloc in the world after the European Union (EU), which aims to become an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. During the process, ASEAN-6 member states, including Thailand, have eliminated almost all import duties, with a few exceptions, and other ASEAN-4 countries will introduce tariff reductions by 2015.