Somkid: Japan backs Thai CPTPP bid

Somkid: Japan backs Thai CPTPP bid

Mr Somkid shakes hands with Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, during Thursday's meeting of high-level officials in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Government House
Mr Somkid shakes hands with Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, during Thursday's meeting of high-level officials in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Government House

Tokyo: Japan has agreed to support Thailand becoming a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a newly formed bloc of 11 Pacific Rim nations excluding the US.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak led high-ranking Thai officials in a meeting Thursday with Japanese counterparts led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo.

Mr Somkid said Japan has agreed to Thailand's request and is willing to support Thailand becoming a member of CPTPP. Thailand plans to apply for membership later this year.

On March 8, 11 Pacific Rim countries signed the CPTPP, which was revised after the US withdrew from the previous TPP agreement in January 2017. The signatories are Singapore, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam. The CPTPP members welcomed interest from other economies wishing to join the trade bloc.

The pact is set to go into effect 60 days after at least six countries complete domestic approval procedures. Members are expected to speed up implementation of the pact this year.

The 11 CPTPP countries combined had US$10.2 trillion (319 trillion baht) in GDP in 2017, making up 13.5% of the global total.

Mr Somkid said CPTPP membership will enhance the competitiveness of Thai entrepreneurs.

In a related development, the deputy prime minister said Japan has pledged to help accelerate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) so that talks can be concluded by the end of this year.

The RCEP was launched in November 2012 with the aim of establishing deeper economic cooperation among the 10 Asean members and six dialogue partners (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand). Member countries represent 29% of global trade and have a combined population of 3.35 billion.

Mr Somkid expects trade and investment to flood in once RCEP is implemented.

At the High-Level Joint Commission meeting between Thailand and Japan, the two countries also agreed to revise the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) to enhance in-depth cooperation.

"JTEPA focuses largely on import tariff cuts," he said. "We're looking to overhaul the 10-year pact to cover greater cooperation."

Mr Somkid said the government also agrees with Japan's proposal to speed up the Shinkansen-like high-speed railway from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The Transport Ministry is scheduled to propose the development for cabinet approval in August.

The cabinet has approved in principle a feasibility study of the 670-kilometre bullet train route worth 420 billion baht. He said the investment cost is relatively high because of the use of Shinkansen technology.

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