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FTA Watch warns government about its violation of the constitution if the DTN goes ahead with the Thai-EU FTA negotiations

posted 9-November-2012

FTA Watch Press Release | 6 November 2012

FTA Watch warns government about its violation of the constitution if the
DTN goes ahead with the Thai-EU FTA negotiations

At the focus of the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem9) summit in Laos is the trade
and investment relations. On 4 November, Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra informed Mr José Manuel Barroso, president of the European
Commission that Thailand was ready to continue its FTA negotiations with
the EU since Thailand has already removed its internal obstacles and could
start the negotiations at the beginning of next year.

Mr Jacques-Chai Chomthongdee, coordinator of the FTA Watch group pointed
out that a number of leading European think tanks have analyzed that the
Eurozone crisis would result in dramatic changes in the EU trade positions,
not to mention the decreasing economic and purchasing power that will
diminish the benefits to be gained by the FTA partners accordingly. Such
view is in agreement with the interview previously given by Dr Supachai
Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of UNCTAD. Of greater concern is the
Ministry of Commerce’s FTA negotiations framework that is still based on
the impact study conducted before the outbreak of the Eurozone crisis, so
it cannot account for the current affairs of the situation. Therefore, the
government should conduct a new comprehensive and updated impact study as fast as possible.

Moreover, critical attention should be given to the negotiation procedure.
If the government is determined to continue its FTA negotiations with the
EU, it should properly follow the constitutional requirements, particularly
Section 190 paragraph 3, which requires that “Council of Ministers shall
provide information and cause to be conducted public hearings” so that such
trade negotiations will actually benefit the country and wider society.

“So far, the government through the Ministry of Commerce’s Department of
Trade Negotiations has not properly followed constitutional procedure,
which is neither obstructive nor difficult at all. On the contrary, the
procedure will verify that the trade negotiations actually benefit the
nation and wider society without concentrating the benefits on a limited
circle but widely spreading the adverse effects as before.

“In fact, what the DTN did during 2010 were the public hearings that had
provided no information so that the participants could not voice their
views about the government’s positions or contents of the negotiations
framework. In addition, the focus group sessions organized by the DTN last
September could not be considered as public hearings. Though some part of
the draft positions of the DTN were presented for discussion, the
organizing of the focus groups was too specific and the participants were
informed of the sessions at short notice. More importantly, no
consultations were made with major stakeholders concerning such issues as
alcoholic beverages and tobacco.

“So if the government is about to present the draft negotiations to
parliament without conducting public hearings, it is at high risk of
violating the constitution, which will badly affect the government and the
country. Therefore it is urgently necessary that the government conducts
public hearings on the draft negotiations framework before presenting it to
parliament, which won’t be time-consuming at all,” said the FTA Watch
coordinator.

Mr Nimitr Tian-Udom, director of AIDS Access Foundation added that the
potential impacts on access to medicines could affect national budget to
the amount of at least 80,000 million baht a year.

“The DTN as secretary of the negotiating team did not refer to any academic
studies in its preparation of the framework and even tried to prevent the
Food and Drug Administration and Department of Intellectual Property, which
are most knowledgeable about the issues, to participate in the preparation”

The civil society sector has complained to concerned committees of the
House of Representatives and the Senate. This issue will be placed before
Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on 7 November 2012.

For more detail, please contact:
- Jacques-Chai Chomthongdee (Eng-Thai) jacques-chai@focusweb.org
- Nimitr Tian-Udom (Thai) nimit@aidsaccess.com

keywords : actions | resistanceEUThailand source : FTA Watch

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