Another 3 months of studies, followed by CPTPP decision
The government plans to take three months to decide whether Thailand should apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), according to the International Economic Policy Committee.
Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai, chairman of the committee, said Friday's committee meeting acknowledged the studies of the house standing panels.
The cabinet agreed in May last year to set up house standing panels to look into and consider whether Thailand should sign up to the controversial Asia-Pacific trade agreement, amid widespread concerns of harm to the agriculture sector.
The decision came after it decided in April last year to shelve a decision on CPTPP membership following stiff opposition from politicians, civil society groups and prominent social figures who said it would hurt the economy, particularly the agricultural and healthcare sectors.
The panels were required to submit their studies within 30 days. They were supposed to submit their studies in early July last year, but they asked for another 60-day extension. The new deadline was in early September.
According to Mr Don, despite the studies by the house standing panels, the government still requires all related agencies to conduct more in-depth studies themselves, as suggested by the panels.
"The government feels there is time to re-examine the impact before making any decisions," he said.
"Decisions on whether to join the pact should be made by the government before August, which is when the CPTPP meeting is scheduled."
The CPTPP was launched in 2019 to remove trade barriers among the 11 nations representing nearly 500 million consumers in the Asia-Pacific region.
The pact replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a similar trade pact that included the US until the Trump administration decided to withdraw.
A source from Government House who requested anonymity said studies by the house standing panels showed the CPTPP would deal a heavy blow to small-scale Thai farmers if Thailand becomes a member of The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), as required by the CPTPP.
The government should speed up upgrading laws and regulations to protect varieties of Thai plants and biodiversity, the source said.
The panels' studies also found funds to remedy the impact of free trade agreements continue to be insufficient to cover all segments that would be affected by the pact.
The panels also expressed concerns about opening the market for remanufactured goods, which may result in Thailand importing low-quality medical equipment.