By PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI
THAILAND will benefit from whichever trade bloc it chooses to belong to, whether or not it joins the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the United States' ambassador says.
US Ambassador Glyn Davies said every trade pact was good as they all help bring down tariffs and trade barriers to stimulate the economic growth of partner countries. For instance, the TPP is a very high-standard trade agreement that, if the Kingdom decides to join it, should increase the standards of many sectors such as infrastructure, governance, regulatory regimes and others in the long term.
The TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Asia-Pacific Free-Trade Agreement are not in competition with one another, he said yesterday during a press conference. “TPP is about business, not political components. Every trade pact can help benefit the economy, employment, and trade growth. Thus I hope Thailand will be able to weigh on its own [whether] to join any trade pact, as all pacts could help improve trade and enhance its ability to [take] another step [in its] development,” he said.
The ambassador said the TPP was not about the US competing with China for influence. He is glad that Thailand has a good relationship with China, while Thailand has also long had good relations with the US.
He said he hoped that Thailand would get back to democracy as the current military-led regime has promised, and that the economy will continue to grow as in the past, when Thailand managed to drive economic growth amid many negative factors.
Davies said the TPP was not a club for the United States, but would involve all 12 members, increasing market penetration so they all benefit from the agreement. The TPP members are in the ratifying process and every country can take this time to adjust and prepare for the pact’s implementation in the future.
Like other non-TPP countries during the ratifying procedure of the current member states, Thailand can take this time to study the couple of thousand pages of details on the pact and decide whether to join it in the future. The US also needs to study trade information from the other TPP member states. The ambassador said that if Thailand wanted to join the pact, the US would be prompted to form a closer collaboration with this country in all areas.
“We want to deepen and continue our collaboration with Thailand in all areas, in trade, economic and other issues such as IT and technology, coping with climate change and others.”
The envoy also claimed that despite Thailand being categorised in Tier 3 – the lowest level – of the United States’ “Trafficking in Persons” report, this point should not be an obstruction for the Kingdom joining the TPP.
Asked about the issues of concern on intellectual-property rights for pharmaceutical companies and genetically modified organisms, the US Embassy’s economic counsellor, Kristina Kvien, said Thailand could study such details before deciding whether to join the TPP.
The ambassador added that despite the fact that Thailand’s pharmaceutical sector was not large, the country had made some developments in the industry and the IPR protections under the TPP should enhance that.
The government will make a decision on whether to join the TPP during the International Trade Promotion Committee meeting on Friday. Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maesincee said the ministry was wrapping up its study on the TPP and weighing the pros and cons carefully, as Thailand would need to pay more for joining the pact later than other countries.