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Government plans safeguards for farmers
- Cartoon books with information about free trade have been circulated to farmers.
Bangkok Post 28-12-2009
Government plans safeguards for farmers
Thai authorities are taking precautions to shield businesses and farmers from the fall in farm product prices after tariffs are cut under the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) at the start of 2010.
Thailand is set to liberalise the market for 23 farm items, although four products - cut flowers, potatoes, coconut meat and coffee beans - have been excluded to protect Thai farmers, said Supaporn Pimonlikit, deputy secretary-general of the Office of Agricultural Economics.
The four items are among 93 on Asean members’ lists of sensitive items, although an open market will be established next year for another 8,300 agricultural and industrial products between Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. New members Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam will join the agreement in 2015.
The relevant ministries have discussed ways to assist farmers and operators, said Ms Supaporn.
"Some limits on imports during harvesting periods of each farm product are being considered. Tight checks on sanitation or any presence of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] will be applied," she said.
In her view, these procedures would be routine and not a form of trade barrier.
The most critical item is rice, which has political significance as it involves more than 20 million farmers.
Despite Thailand’s strong competitiveness in the rice sector, which has made it the world’s leading exporter, imports are a sensitive issue.
As well as implementing measures to buffer the free trade agreement’s impact on farmers, the government must improve farmers’ understanding of the agreement, she said.
Many government agencies have held seminars throughout the country in recent years. The Office of Agricultural Economics has held four seminars this month in the provinces of Sa Kaeo, Nong Khai, Chiang Rai and Krabi to prepare farmers and traders for the changes.
These provinces border neighbouring countries, from which rice and some farm products could flood in, she said.
"Farmers will also learn about the FTA pact from easy-to-understand cartoon books," said Ms Supaporn.
Many copies of the books have been circulated to farmers nationwide to ensure they are ready for the trade liberalisation, and appreciate the benefits for Thailand. The free trade pact is expected to stimulate consumption and growth in Asean, which has 580 million people, she said.
For sectors likely to suffer from liberalisation, the government has set aside about 200 million baht for an FTA fund to improve the competitiveness of some products.
The Commerce Ministry expects half of the 23 farm products affected by the FTA to see a negative impact from the agreement. They include garlic, onions, rice, tobacco, maize and palm oil.
Farmers in groups or co-operatives have been encouraged to apply for support from the fund, which so far has not been greatly used.
Upcoming days of action
Oct to Nov: autumn of action against CETA in Europe incl. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Netherland, Slovenia, Spain... - details
27-28 Oct: mobilisation in Brussels against CETA - contact
03-05 Nov: mobilisation in Brussels against TTIP - contact
4 Nov: Continental day for democracy and against FTAs & neoliberalism in Latin America - contact
Any edits, please contact us
News from the movements
27-Oct-2016 ITFGlobal trade union leaders meeting in Panama have united in condemnation of TiSA (the Trade in Services Agreement) and CETA (the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement), highlighting the risks that both trade agreements pose to jobs and job security.
27-Oct-2016 PSIOn 12 October, the closing day of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Fukuoka, around 250 delegates representing more than 70 PSI affiliates from 18 countries resolved to intensify the struggle against the ambitious Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership under negotiation among 16 countries in the region.
20-Oct-2016 El DiarioHoy es un día clave en la defensa de la democracia tal y como la hemos entendido hasta ahora.
20-Oct-2016 Bangkok PostAccess to affordable medicine and farmers’ control over seeds could be undermined by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership being negotiated between Asean member countries and six other trade partners, says FTA Watch in Thailand
20-Oct-2016 CEOA close look at the controversial EU-Canada trade deal shows that concerns blocking its ratification are well-founded.
19-Oct-2016 Telesur“We don’t want what happened to us to happen to the people in Dakota,” Piaguaje told teleSUR.
18-Oct-2016 Peoples WorldIn protests billed as “anti-colonial” demonstrations, Peruvians hit the streets on 12 October against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement
17-Oct-2016 No al TTIPEn el marco de una semana repleta de protestas para detener la aprobación del tratado de libre comercio entre la Unión Europea y Estados Unidos (TTIP) y la ratificación del CETA (el acuerdo de la Unión Europea con Canadá), la plataforma estatal ‘No al TTIP’ ha movilizado este sábado a miles de personas a lo largo de la geografía española y muy especialmente en la capital de España.
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