Health activists are calling on the government to make public the negotiating framework for the Thailand-European Union free trade agreement (FTA).
Aphiwat Kwangkaew, president of the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids, said the group had heard that the negotiating framework would be submitted to the cabinet today as the government gears up for the Thai-EU FTA talks expected in January.
He said the network is worried the so-called Trips-plus provisions would be included in the talks, which would prevent Thais from gaining access to life-saving medicines at affordable prices.
Trips-plus refers to additional provisions that are more stringent than the World Trade Organisation's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) agreement.
They include data exclusivity, the extension of drug patent protection periods, and stricter intellectual property protection enforcement.
"The public has not seen the negotiation framework yet," Mr Aphiwat said.
The framework should be revealed to the public before it goes to cabinet, he said. "We are afraid the government will make the wrong decision."
FTA Watch coordinator Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul said activist networks would monitor today's cabinet meeting closely.
She said if the talks harm the public interest, the group would complain to the authorities, including the Administrative Court.
She said the cabinet's approval of the framework would violate Section 190 of the constitution which requires public hearings for any international agreement which could harm the public interest.
Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said that he did not know whether the framework would be discussed by the cabinet or not.
The government would not allow the Thai-EU FTA to block Thais from obtaining low-cost drugs, he said.
About the author
Writer: Paritta Wangkiat