'Made in Thailand' poised for comeback
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'Made in Thailand' poised for comeback

Businesses are calling on the government to reintroduce the Made in Thailand campaign to persuade Thais to eat and use Thai products in an effort to recreate the drive's success of three decades ago.

They also called on the government to procure more locally made products.

Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said after a meeting with Commerce Ministry officials that the Made in Thailand campaign would greatly benefit small and medium-sized enterprises that not only face technological disruption but also shrinking sales and mushrooming non-tariff barriers.

According to Mr Supant, despite this year's growing economic prospects, concerns still exist such as volatile foreign exchange and oil prices, not to mention natural disasters such as the floods that are ravaging several provinces in the country.

"We're asking for cooperation from the ministry to help revitalise the Made in Thailand campaign to promote not only the consumption and use of more Thai products, but also Thai consumer awareness that a number of Thai products boast high quality on a par with international goods," he said. "The campaign will also help boost sales for Thai SMEs."

Mr Supant said the FTI also pledged to set up a working panel to study the rules, regulations and feasibility of promoting the Made in Thailand campaign for all industrial sectors, while the Commerce Ministry is tasked with studying whether the campaign, if reintroduced, would impinge upon World Trade Organization rules.

All studies should be completed this year, so that the government can kick-start the campaign in the final quarter of this year, he said.

According to Mr Supant, the FTI has also proposed two working panels be set up: one to promote industry and trade and another to work with Commerce Ministry officials to tackle trade and investment issues.

The proposal will be made at today's meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking.

According to Mr Supant, the FTI on Monday also expressed concerns about Thailand's plan to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a newly formed bloc of 11 Pacific Rim nations excluding the US.

He said that while the private sector had agreed in principle to participate, the FTI needs to do a more in-depth study of the possible impact on Thai industries, determine which industries would be subject to the greatest impact and decide how remedy measures would be introduced for the affected industries.

The Commerce Ministry said recently that it would host the first public hearing in Bangkok in August to let stakeholders air concerns about the new trade bloc before the country moves ahead with any decisions on membership.

The department will later hold similar public hearings in every region of the country until September.

On March 8, 11 Pacific Rim countries signed the CPTPP, 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 welcomed interest from other economies wishing to join the trade bloc.

Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said recently that the department would hire a research institute to study the benefits and impacts of the CPTPP on Thailand.

Mrs Auramon said the Commerce Ministry will also hold a second meeting of a working group on CPTPP, to be chaired by Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong this month, to consider the comments of 25 government agencies, analyses and all proposals.

The department estimates that joining the CPTPP will benefit more than harm Thailand, as sensitive TPP issues that concern Thailand, particularly regarding investment and intellectual property, were suspended, Mrs Auramon said.

The CPTPP incorporates the original TPP agreement, pledging to slash tariffs on 95% of trade in goods, along with covering a host of trade topics including technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, competition policy, and intellectual property rights.

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