Industry leaders support Thailand joining free-trade pact

One of the most prominent organizations of business leaders in Thailand said last week that it supports the Kingdom joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade group among countries in the Pacific Rim.

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) arrived at its position after conducting a study with the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. The JSCCIB also urged the government to lift restrictions on foreign investors traveling to the Kingdom. Thailand’s borders are closed until July because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The JSCCIB consists of Thailand’s captains of industry and finance. The government takes the views and policy positions of the committee seriously.

The government’s economic czar Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is a proponent of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but the government as a whole has yet to reach a decision.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was founded as a free-trade grouping of countries to, in part, provide a counterbalance to China. The United States led the efforts to form the group, but the administration of President Donald Trump reversed course, and the U.S. did not join.

The group is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It has 11 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

China leads another trade group, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and Thailand is a member of that bloc. The Kingdom strives to keep balanced and good relations with all countries, including the great powers.

Some groups in Thailand have opposed joining the CPTPP because of concerns over food security and agricultural and trade policies and about access to certain pharmaceuticals.

The JSCCIB said the study concluded the benefits of joining outweighed any possible negative consequences.

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