By PHUWIT LIMVIPHUWAT
“We want to finish all the CPTPP entry assessments by the end of this year”, Auramon Supthaweethum, who took over as director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations at the beginning of the year, told The Nation yesterday in an exclusive interview.
The entry assessment or “gap study” is aimed at evaluating Thailand’s readiness to fulfil the legislative requirements and standards of the CPTPP, such as international trade and state procurement policies, she said.
It is important to conclude the assessment by the end of this year because timing is very important when entering the CPTPP, as there are also other countries that have expressed interest in joining the CPTPP such as Indonesia, Colombia and the United Kingdom, she explained.
“If we enter the group after these countries, there will be even more negotiations to go through,” she said.
Furthermore, the CPTPP will accept new members only if at least half of its existing members ratify the new members, Auramon explained.
“Currently CPTPP has been guaranteed ratification by four countries, and needs backing from only two more members,” she said.
“Thus, if the assessment is delayed and other interested parties join the CPTPP before Thailand, we will need to seek ratification from even more countries in order to join the CPTPP,” Auramon said.
The CPTPP is a trade agreement between 11 countries, including Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Canada. The agreement is a revival of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was suspended after the United States announced its withdrawal in January 2017. Provisions within the CPTPP include issues regarding reduction of trade barriers, environmental protection, human rights protection and labour standards.
“Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has said that Thailand is interested in joining the CPTPP,” Auramon said.
The Department of Trade Negotiations has created a working panel whilst working with 30 other state organisations to evaluate Thailand’s readiness to join the CPTPP.
The CPTPP agreement comprises 30 sections, running into more than 8000 pages, hence the department cannot work through the agreement alone, Auramon said.
To facilitate smooth working, the working panel has distributed each section of the agreement to the relevant government organisation. For example, issues concerning public health have been given to the Ministry of Public Health to evaluate, and issues concerning hygiene standards of agricultural goods have been given to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, she said.