[Ip-health] Scholar urges TPP member plan rethink

Jockey jockey.kit at gmail.com
Wed Nov 14 02:14:29 PST 2012


 Scholar urges TPP member plan rethink

   - Published:
12:00 AM
   - Newspaper section:

      The government should think twice before pressing ahead with its plan
to seek membership of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a leading
academic warned yesterday.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has members on both sides of the Pacific, but
it has plenty of sceptics in the US (photo) and every member country as

The cabinet on Monday approved a proposal for the government to hold
negotiations with the US over the possibility that Thailand might become a
new member of the TPP.

The negotiations are expected to be held during the two-day official visit
by the US President Barack Obama on Saturday and Sunday.

One major concern is that Thailand's service sector is not ready to become
a part of the TPP as it is not competitive enough, said Aat Pisanwanich,
dean of the School of Economics at the University of the Thai Chamber of

Financial institutions in particular would be adversely affected by free
trade in the service sector under the TPP. The technology sector also lacks
the ability to compete in this free trade setting, said Mr Aat.

The TPP is a significantly expanded version of the 2005 Trans-Pacific
Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, which works to further liberalise
the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

The TPP now has 11 members, namely Brunei, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand,
the US, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico and Canada.

It would, however, not be easy for Thailand to gain TPP membership as all
member nations would have to unanimously approve Thailand's request, said a
source at the Finance Ministry.

Piramol Charoenpao, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department,
said Thailand would benefit from joining the TPP. As a member, the country
would have to sharpen its competitive edge against other countries and
improve government procurement standards, she said.

Fierce competition would be unavoidable and that would make Thailand
stronger, she added.

During Mr Obama's visit, the government will hold a press conference to
formally affirm its commitment to seek membership of the TPP, said a
Commerce Ministry source.

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