Should we trade poor people's lives with trade benefits for agro-industry corporations? This question has been posed by civic groups to the Yingluck Shinawatra government concerning the free-trade agreement negotiations between Thailand and the European Union. It is not the only question that needs to be answered, however.
The first round of the Thai-EU FTA negotiations will start next week in Belgium. Yet the public still knows little about how seriously this comprehensive trade package will affect the prices of medicines, seeds and other farm products now under the monopoly of pharma and agro industries.
The trade deal also poses a problematic issue for Thailand's sovereign rights if the government can be sued for issuing public interest laws that are perceived by big business to hurt their profits.