[Ip-health] Activists take TPP protest to airport

Jockey jockey.kit at gmail.com
Mon Nov 19 01:31:33 PST 2012

Activists take TPP protest to airport

   - Published:
12:00 AM
   - Newspaper section:

      Activists from 14 non-governmental organisations and consumer
advocacy groups gathered outside Don Mueang airport yesterday to protest
against the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement (TPP).

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had said she would not give a commitment
on the trade deal to US President Barack Obama, who arrived at Don Mueang
yesterday for a whirlwind Bangkok visit.

Nimit Thiam-udom, director of the Aids Access Foundation, said any trade
agreement should be made in the public interest rather than to favour
business groups, particularly exporters who have been pressuring the prime
minister to support the US deal.

The government should seek public comment and consider the deal carefully,
not merely do the Americans' bidding.

Saree Aongsomwang, secretary-general of the Foundation for Consumers, said
Thailand has to pay more than 100 billion baht each year to buy medicines
for the public health system.

If the TPP is signed, Thailand will have to pay about 80 billion baht more
to purchase the same medicines from foreign countries, Ms Saree said.

The trade agreement specifies that Thailand cannot bargain for the prices
of pharmaceuticals, she added.

Samlee Jaidee, an academic at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of
pharmaceutical sciences, said the TPP would also have adverse repercussions
on the domestic pharmaceutical industry.

She said the agreement would allow major foreign companies to increase the
prices of medicines, wield monopolistic control over the industry, and curb
Thailand's bargaining power.

The Commerce Ministry's Department of Trade yesterday defended the
government's position on the TPP.

It said the government would only express Thailand's intention to enter TPP
negotiations, but would not commit to signing the agreement.

There are procedures involved in studying and approving any decision to
join foreign trade deals, as required by Section 190 of the constitution,
the department said.

Section 190 requires any international treaty that could affect national
security or the economy to be endorsed by parliament.

The Commerce Ministry said it will study the benefits and consequences of
the pact and gather public input before drawing up a framework for
negotiations to present to the cabinet and to parliament for consideration.

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