At Trump meeting, activists fear chemical lobby

At Trump meeting, activists fear chemical lobby

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha escorts US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross Jr at Government House after a courtesy call and trade talks on next Monday's meeting between Gen Prayut and President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha escorts US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross Jr at Government House after a courtesy call and trade talks on next Monday's meeting between Gen Prayut and President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

An activist group has voiced concerns that Thailand will be forced to allow the use of more dangerous pesticides after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's trip to the US next week.

FTA Watch coordinator Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul said the US does not want Thailand to prohibit paraquat and chlorpyrifos, or limit the use of the herbicide glyphosate, all of which have been banned by many countries.

"Thailand announced a goal of being the world's kitchen but it ranks as the No 6 importer of paraquat globally. Giant American companies may take the chance to pressure Thailand not to ban it," she said.

She also said the US had pressured Thailand to amend its laws on intellectual property rights to accept registration of patents too easily, even when they lack innovation, while the US dominates pharmaceutical intellectual property rights.

"Just these two issues can ruin Thailand's research and development and increase the burden on public health. It will also destroy Thailand's competitiveness. We hope the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] government will not trade the lives of people with the acceptance of the US," she said.

Gen Prayut, also chief of the NCPO, is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday (Thailand time).

The premier said Wednesday he had discussed trade and investment with visiting US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

To resolve the trade imbalance, the two countries will see what can be fixed. A small country such as Thailand can gain in some areas and lose in others, he said.

"We will talk based on friendship. We have 200 years of relations, the longest in Asean," he said.

"The world changes, governments change, and we then have to discuss again how to develop our relationship. We cannot leave each other. We have deep relationships with all countries," he said.

Deputy spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said Gen Prayut told Mr Ross the government had worked hard to solve human trafficking and violations of intellectual property rights while also boosting aviation standards to meet international norms. Besides promoting the economy, he said the government is following its roadmap to a general election -- expected late next year -- "with the appropriate timing".

Mr Trump earlier announced his intention to address US trade deficits with 16 countries including Thailand.

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