New Zealand urges Thailand to join TPP
New Zealand’s ambassador to Thailand urged the Kingdom last week to consider joining the United States-led Trans Pacific Partnership trade grouping, noting that Thailand’s economy would benefit from membership as it would help to boost the country’s exports.
As a country heavily dependent upon exports – overseas shipments account for roughly 70 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product, or GDP – the trade agreements would increase opportunities for the Kingdom and help ensure its future growth at a time when many economies are facing issues of sustainability.
“We [New Zealand] see the opportunity from the TPP, as it includes many large markets, mainly the U.S. and Japan, and other countries. For Thailand, I think the opportunity is also waiting for the country to see the [benefits of the] agreement, as all TPP members will need to go through the public scrutiny process and get parliamentary approval,’’ Ambassador Reuben Levermore told The Nation newspaper.
Levermore’s advocacy for free trade was not limited, however, to the TPP. He advised Thailand to integrate itself further into the global economy by joining as many trade groupings as possible. He praised Thailand’s steps to become part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a 16-member regional trade bloc including all 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. But he also cautioned that membership in the RCEP could not compensate for benefits lost by not participating in the TPP.
“Thailand can take this chance to study and see the details of the agreement, and consider whether to join the TPP,” said the ambassador.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that was exactly his intention, telling reporters that he has not yet made any decision on whether Thailand should join the TPP. Previously, the Prime Minister said that he must take the views of all sectors of society into account when considering the matter. Public health advocates and farmers groups have voiced concerns and opposition to the TPP because of market access and intellectual property issues.
Prayut said the he believes Thailand still has one or two years to weigh the pros and cons of possible TPP membership.
U.S. business groups have called on Thailand to join the TPP, including the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, which brought dozens of leading corporate executives to meet the Prime Minister and his economic ministers in Bangkok earlier this year.
Ambassador Levermore said the concerns of some sectors “should not be seen as major issues since the TPP would help enhance closer cooperation and develop sectors in which there were different playing fields.”
Thailand Focus Week of October 26, 2015
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