Framework for EU FTA imminent
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Framework for EU FTA imminent

The Trade Negotiations Department is scheduled to propose a framework for the long-awaited free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) and the outcome of public hearings on the pact's impact to the commerce minister for consideration early in the second quarter of this year.

Director-general Auramon Supthaweethum said the framework is nearly finished following the completion of public hearings on market access, trade in services, investment, trade remedies, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), a technical trade barrier to trade (TBT), e-commerce and intellectual property under the pact.

Once the framework passes the commerce minister's reading, the following steps include the consideration of the international trade policy committee and the cabinet's approval.

Mrs Auramon said the department also expects talks with the bloc could commence sometime within this year, with the talks concluding over the next 2-3 years at the earliest. She said there are still lots of lingering concerns on the impact of the pact, particularly in the areas of intellectual property, public procurement and the farm sector, which is required to comply with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991) requirements.

Thailand is not yet a signatory of UPOV 1991. The country instead has the Plant Varieties Protection Act, supervised by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry.

The UPOV 1991 regulations may call for Thailand to let other signatory countries make use of the seeds of native plants from Thailand for research and create new plant species and have them patented as their own and resell them to Thai farmers. Farmers are not allowed to collect the plant seeds to reproduce them in the next planting season, except for small cereals grown on the farmers' land for subsistence alone.

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