[Ip-health] Civic groups warn against pact with EU

Jockey jockey.kit at gmail.com
Mon Mar 4 02:11:17 PST 2013


Civic groups warn against pact with EU

   - Published: 1 Mar
   - Newspaper section:

     Twenty-eight civic groups have warned the government against entering
into a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union.

They have asked authorities to avoid controversial issues and seek House
approval before signing any deal.

About 1,500 members of the groups under the umbrella network of FTA Watch
gathered outside Government House yesterday to voice their concerns.

The network said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and prime ministerial
adviser Olarn Chaipravat, who is the FTA chief negotiator, should pay full
attention to their demands.

The premier will lead the Thai delegates to discuss FTA-related issues with
European Union representatives in Belgium on Wednesday and Thursday.

Many members of the network, including a Thai HIV-patient group known as
Thaiplus and anti-alcohol and alternative farming groups, are worried the
talks could make medicine for serious diseases more expensive and enhance
the trade in alcohol and tobacco which is harmful to health, FTA Watch
leader Kannika Kittiwetchakun said.

The issue of how to settle conflicts between the government and foreign
companies through international arbitration, especially those concerning
state policies to protect public interests and the environment, also needs
careful consideration, she said.

Any FTA talks regarding these issues must be approved by the parliament
under Section 190 of the constitution, she said.

Section 190 requires House approval for international agreements that can
affect national sovereignty and social and economic security.

The group said the government must not allow investments that endanger
natural resources and threaten food security.

Mr Olarn gave his assurance yesterday that the deal will be considered with
the public interest in mind. Mr Olarn was speaking after talks with FTA
Watch representatives.

FTA Watch coordinator Chakchai Chomthongdi said Mr Olarn agreed that after
each round of talks, the negotiating team must brief FTA Watch on what was
discussed with the EU.

The team must also collect public input before it negotiates each round.

Experts and FTA Watch will also be allowed a say in issues to be put up for

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