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Business leaders urge Thailand to join Asia-Pacific trade pact talks

11 June 2020

A group of leading Thai business associations says that Thailand should take part in Asia-Pacific trade agreement talks in August to help decide if it will join the pact.

Reuters reports that Thailand has previously said it could seek membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as commercial competition in agriculture and electronics intensifies from economic rivals like Vietnam and Malaysia.

Some civil society groups and opposition parties opposed membership in the trade pact, believing that it could harm the farm and healthcare sectors.

However Predee Daochai, chairman of a joint standing committee on commerce, industry and banking, told a briefing that joining the talks will help Thailand learn more about the pact so it can adjust to competition.

"The process of seeking membership will take at least four years and Thailand can withdraw at any stage if found unbeneficial," he said.

Member countries, including Japan and Canada, signed the CPTPP deal in 2018 without the United States. The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when President Donald Trump withdrew from it.

Thailand's commerce ministry has said membership would boost the country's economy, helping to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Members of parliament are planning to form a committee to study the impact of the trade pact as they debated the issue at Wednesday's parliamentary session.

"Does the CPTPP answer the goals for the development of the country?" said Jiraporn Sinthuprai of the opposition Pheu Thai Party. "This study has to be done to maintain national interests that benefit a majority of Thais".

Some members said Thailand did not need to rush to join the pact. Membership will need parliamentary approval.

Read more about this story here.



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