The European Union and Thailand on Wednesday announced the launch of talks on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), seeking to boost annual commerce already worth some 30 billion euros.
"We are delighted to announce today the launch of free-trade negotiations between the EU and Thailand," European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso said alongside Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Brussels.
Barroso presented a certificate to Thailand's first woman head a government, recognising Thai rice as protected under World Trade Organisation geographical indicators - a first for products from southeast Asia.
Yingluck, who later meets EU President Herman Van Rompuy after talks with Parliament head Martin Schulz, said "Thailand hopes for quick conclusions" to the FTA.
The EU accounts for 10 percent of Thailand's external trade and some 5.5 million people visit the country each year from Europe, Yingluck noted.
"We look forward to extending cooperation in other areas," she added at a press briefing.