Japanese private sector urged to help Thai trade talks

Japanese private sector urged to help Thai trade talks

With Thailand planning to focus on strategic partnerships rather than just trade agreements, Japan's private sector is being urged to function as an intermediary in speeding up trade and investment talks between the countries.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said yesterday that despite the presence of a free trade pact between Thailand and Japan under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA), Thai officials want to discuss more strategic partnerships.

"Instead of the whole pact, talks should concentrate on targeted industries that Thailand and Japan mutually agree to underline for partnership," Mr Somkid said after meeting Shingo Sato, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Bangkok.

"The private sector is seen as vital to help speed up talks between state officials of the two countries."

The JTEPA was signed in Tokyo in 2007 and came into force on Nov 1, 2007. It covers trade in goods and services, rules of origin, investment and movement of persons.

Talks to extend the partnership have stalled since 2009 amid internal political problems in both countries.

Mr Somkid urged Japanese investors to make the best use of Thailand as a gateway to the CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries and China.

He also placated investors' concerns about differences between the Revenue Department and the Board of Investment (BoI) over corporate income tax.

The Revenue Department said earlier this month that it wanted 40 companies that won BoI tax privileges to pay an additional 2-3 billion baht in corporate tax.

Some 800 companies are enjoying BoI tax incentives but 40 made incorrect calculations for corporate tax because accounting firms gave bad advice, director-general Prasong Poontaneat said last week.

The department will allow payment by Aug 1 without fines.

Mr Prasong said tax disputes between the department and the 40 companies followed different tax calculation methods for BoI-promoted projects.

The companies computed their taxable income separately for each BoI project, while the Revenue Code requires companies to combine profits and losses from all BoI-promoted projects with non-BoI projects.

Mr Prasong said the Revenue Department followed the Supreme Court's ruling requiring companies to combine profits and losses from all BoI-promoted projects.

The department's policy did not conflict with the provisions of the BoI because the latter is related to tax exemptions while the former is associated with tax payment.

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