Industry titans want clarity on CPTPP

Industry titans want clarity on CPTPP

Interest from other nations a concern

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (Thai Chamber of Commerce photo)
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (Thai Chamber of Commerce photo)

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) is calling for a chat with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thailand's much-delayed decision to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) after China, Taiwan and Britain divulged their eagerness to take part in this free-trade pact.

The CPTPP and economic stimulus packages are two issues up for discussion in a meeting with Gen Prayut, said the JSCCIB, which is preparing to submit the meeting request to the premier this week.

Thailand may lose benefits if it makes a late decision to join CPTPP, said Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, a key member of the JSCCIB.

"We want the government to speed up the decision-making process now that China, Taiwan and Britain have shown interest in joining the pact," he said.

If Thailand tries to join CPTPP too late, it may face more membership conditions after the three countries are granted entry, said Mr Sanan. This could lead to lengthy negotiations and more delays regarding requirements for becoming a CPTPP member.

At present, the 11 CPTPP members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The JSCCIB plans to ask the Commerce and Foreign Affairs ministries to consider the findings of its study on the effects of CPTPP on the Thai economy.

Protesters against the pact raised concerns over its negative impact on the agriculture industry as members are required to reduce import tariffs on farm products.

Another sticking point for critics is whether the pact will force Thailand to import medicines at higher prices.

The JSCCIB also wants to talk with Gen Prayut about stimulus measures, which the committee believes need some adjustment. One such measure is the co-payment scheme, in which the government pays for half of goods purchased worth up to 300 baht per person per day, capped at 3,000 baht per person. The group wants the government to increase the limit to 6,000 baht.

The committee revised its economic growth forecast for this year to 0-1% because of easing lockdown restrictions.

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