State urged to join growing trade pact to boost exports

State urged to join growing trade pact to boost exports

Country would be 12th group member

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) said it continued to support Thailand's participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to expand its export markets and boost the economy.

Kriengkrai Thiennukul, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), reiterated the JSCCIB's stance following a news report that China was eager to apply for membership of the free-trade pact.

FTI believes China's participation will benefit CPTPP, which currently consists of 11 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Mr Kriengkrai said the JSCCIB supports the government in pushing ahead with a plan to join CPTPP as it will help Thailand better gain access to markets of the member countries.

"The FTI is monitoring the CPTPP issue closely and expects the government will consider taking part in the pact," said Mr Kriengkrai.

Vietnam has already started to benefit from membership of the CPTPP. Foreign direct investment in the country has continued to increase over the past 2-3 years, at a rate three times higher than that of Thailand, said Mr Kriengkrai.

The CPTPP has prompted investors to expand their investments into Vietnam partly because of bright export prospects, which were assisted by the pact.

Vietnam also has inexpensive labour costs and a large population.

Many foreign investors told the FTI that CPTPP and Vietnam's free-trade agreement with the European Union gave Vietnam international trade opportunities in 53 countries, compared with 18 countries under Thailand's free-trade pacts with its partners, said Mr Kriengkrai.

"This enables Vietnam to offer more business opportunities in the export sector than Thailand," he said.

Last year the JSCCIB published a thorough study of CPTPP, to help the government make a careful decision on participating in the trade pact.

CPTPP sparked a conflict with protesters, who raised concerns over its negative impact on the agriculture industry since members are required to reduce import tariffs on farm products.

The protesters have also worried that the pact will force Thailand to import medicines at higher prices.

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