PM urges caution on Thailand joining TPP

PM urges caution on Thailand joining TPP

Thailand will carefully consider if it is necessary to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backed by the United States, as the country is in talks regarding another major trade pact involving China, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says.

Speaking during his weekly televised address on Friday night, Gen Prayut said the Commerce Ministry recently invited representatives from three major private sector organisations to discuss the impact of the TPP which comprises 12 countries.

The private organisations are the Thai Bankers' Association, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and the Federation of Thai Industries.

The ministry said the organisations agreed that Thailand should join the TPP as it would benefit the country, particularly in terms of investment, despite the fact that some business operators harboured concerns over the impact on some goods exports, Gen Prayut said.

However, Gen Prayut said, of the 12 TPP members, nine have bilateral trade agreements with Thailand. The US, Canada and Mexico do not.

Thailand is also in comprehensive talks regarding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is an economic and trade pact between 10 Asean members and six other countries: China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

The pact will cover up to 3.5 billion people, or almost half the world's population, Gen Prayut said.

As a result, he said, he ordered all relevant agencies to study the pros and cons of the matter from all aspects.

He said Thailand still has until 2017 to make a decision on whether to join the TPP.

"We will not close off the chance [of joining] but we need to consider this matter carefully," the premier said.

A government source said the acceleration of the TPP by the US would spur China to hasten talks about the RCEP.

The RCEP was an initiative launched in November 2012.

Negotiations are due to conclude this year for the world's largest regional trading bloc, accounting for 45% of the global population with a combined GDP of US$21.4 trillion.

Thailand exported goods worth $127 billion to RCEP countries in 2014, making up 56% of its export value.

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