Somkid: Thailand eyes becoming CPTPP member
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Somkid: Thailand eyes becoming CPTPP member

Thailand is set to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) this year, a newly formed bloc of 11 Pacific Rim nations excluding the US, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Speaking after a discussion with high-ranking officials of the Commerce Ministry yesterday, Mr Somkid ordered the ministry to speed up analysis of the CPTPP as soon as possible so that Thailand could join the trade bloc within this year.

"CPTPP is much less rigid on medicine patents, a sticking point for Thailand in the original TPP," he said.

Thailand will seek support from Japan to help Thailand become a member of the new trade bloc.

Eleven Pacific Rim countries signed the CPTPP on March 8, which was revised after the US withdrew from the previous TPP agreement in January 2017.

The signatories are Singapore, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.

The CPTPP members also welcomed interest shown by a number of other economies wishing to join the trade bloc.

The CPTPP, also known as TPP 11, will go into effect 60 days after at least six countries complete domestic approval procedures.

Members were expected to speed up implementation of the pact this year.

The 11 CPTPP countries combined had US$10.2 trillion (319 trillion baht) in GDP in 2017, making up 13.5% of the world's GDP.

The signatories have a combined population of 495 million, or 6.8% of the world's total.

In 2017, Thailand's two-way trade with those 11 countries amounted to $134.6 billion, with exports from Thailand contributing $70.3 billion, accounting for 29.7% of Thailand's exports.

Thailand had a trade surplus worth $6 billion with the 11 CPTPP members last year.

In a related development, Mr Somkid said Thailand is looking to overhaul a free-trade pact under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA).

He said the 10-year-old trade pact needs to be revised to cover not only import tax reduction but also more cooperation on innovation, artificial intelligence and digital development between the two countries in order to expand trade and investment in the future.

The JTEPA was signed in Tokyo in 2007 and came into force on Nov 1, 2007, covering trade in goods and services, rules of origin, investment and movement of people.

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