Thailand giving serious thought to join TPP

Photo Credit: Graphic by US Senate, Somkid photo by Post Today


Writer: Chayada Polpan

Among ASEAN Countries, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam are already the members of TPP, while Indonesia and the Philippines have said they intended to join the agreement.

Thailand is actively considering joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact because the agreement would not only benefit trade and investment but also extend the connectivity in Asia to other regions in the world.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-Ocha assigned the Ministry of Commerce to carry out an extensive study of the positive and negative outcomes of membership of TPP. Concerns include the effects on Thailand’s pharmaceutical sector, labor, environment, government procurement, and agriculture.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak preceded the former’s assignment by restructuring the working committee studying the TPP such as the areas of labor, agriculture, public health, and foreign affairs.

During a trip in Japan, he received concerns from the Japanese government not wanting Thailand to be left out of Global supply chain if not join TPP. Japan is Thailand’s top foreign investor. Trade volume between the two countries during the first nine months of this year exceeded $39 billion, according to the Thai Commerce Ministry

At a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on November 27, 2015, Mr. Somkid said Japan had pledged to support Thailand joining a US-led Pacific trade accord. Japan has offered to help Thailand study the impacts of TPP membership including its benefits, and the challenges Thailand needs to prepare for.

During the talk with Mr. Abe, Thailand also called for Japanese investment in 10 targeted industries being promoted as clusters, the rail development of three long – distance railways and small and medium enterprise enhancements.

Mr. Somkid updated the situation of Thailand’s economy to Japanese investors at a seminar titled “Thailand: Moving Forward to Sustainable Growth” that the overall outlook for the Thai economy is strong. Thailand’s foreign reserves are estimated at US$157 billion compared with short-term foreign debt of US$55 billion, a public debt to GDP ratio of only 43%, low inflation, and unemployment at only 0.9%.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on the same day signed three memorandums of understanding with the Japan External Trade Organization, Japan Association of Travel and TV Asahi Corporation on tourism cooperation to boost Japanese tourist arrivals to two million by 2020. Japanese visitors are likely to bring in revenue of 54.9 billion baht this year and 61 billion baht in revenue next year.