Somkid: Call on CPTPP due in 3 months

Somkid: Call on CPTPP due in 3 months

Study on bloc's impact ongoing

The cabinet is expected to make a decision by April or May on whether Thailand will join 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, who yesterday chaired a meeting of the International Economic Policy Committee, said the Commerce Ministry's Trade Negotiations Department will prepare a proposal once a study on the pros and cons of the CPTPP impact is complete.

The study by Bolliger & Company Thailand, which was hired by the Trade Negotiations Department, found participation in the CPTPP would boost Thailand's GDP by 0.12 percentage points or 13.3 billion baht in revenue a year.

Without the CPTPP participation, Thailand is estimated to lose 26.6 billion baht worth of revenue, causing the GDP to contract by 0.25 percentage points a year.

Mr Somkid said if the cabinet approves the proposal by the Commerce Ministry, Thailand will submit a formal request to join the CPTPP, possibly sometime ahead of CPTPP members' meeting in August.

"We expect Thailand will benefit from joining the new pact and the government pledges to come up with measures for sectors that are adversely impacted by the CPTPP," he said.

Mr Somkid said the public should not be concerned with the pact as patented medicines are not covered.

The government also pledged to introduce aid measures for farmers if the agreement covers seeds.

Thai farmers and civil society organisations expressed their concerns about the impact of the new pact's IP (intellectual property) chapter, which prevents them from saving and reusing seeds that contain patented plant materials. Officials insist farmers would still have the right to collect and reuse seeds, but only for non-commercial purposes.

The CPTPP is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The pact came about from the demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which never came into force after the US withdrew.

Mr Somkid said the International Economic Policy Committee yesterday assigned trade negotiators to accelerate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU.

FTA negotiations between Thailand and the EU were put on hold after the 2014 coup and subsequent military rule.

The EU protested the suspension of democracy.

Thailand held general elections in March, and a pro-army coalition of parties formed a government, officially ending five years of military rule.

The Trade Negotiations Department has been speeding up studies of opportunities and challenges in reviving long-delayed trade talks between Thailand and the EU after the EU Council made a statement that the bloc aims to resume FTA negotiations with Thailand.

The department organised public hearings nationwide in September and November of last year.

The EU is Thailand's fourth-largest trading partner in the world and forms the fourth largest investment segment domestically.

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