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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
8 Oct: mobilisation in Luxembourg against CETA - contact
8-15 oct: October of resistance against TTIP and CETA in Spain - contact
15 Oct: mobilisation in Paris against CETA - contact
10-15 Oct: regional week of action against RCEP in Asia-Pacific - contact
22 Oct: mobilisation in Amsterdam against CETA - contact
27-28 Oct: mobilisation in Brussels against CETA - contact
Any edits, please contact us
News from the movements
28-Sep-2016 Global Labour ColumnFor decades, labour has been fighting purely defensive battles against the neo-liberal trade and investment agenda; we lack an agenda of our own. Lost ground will not be reclaimed on what is fundamentally hostile territory, argues Peter Rossmann of the IUF.
26-Sep-2016 No al TTIP
Aprobada en Les Corts Valencianes una iniciativa para instar al Gobierno central a no autorizar la firma del Acuerdo Económico y Comercial Global (CETA)Un total de 32 ayuntamientos valencianos, que aglutinan a más de un millón de personas, han rechazado este acuerdo.
23-Sep-2016 La DiariaSuplemento especial elaborado por La Diaria, Uruguay, dedicado a los Tratados de Libre Comercio.
23-Sep-2016 TeleSurDozens of Indigenous people in Peru have been absolved of accusations that they were responsible for a massacre seven years ago that killed at least 32 people, due to intense conflict triggered by the country’s free trade agreements.
22-Sep-2016 CADTMIl est urgent de lever le silence qui entoure cette question dans notre pays et de présenter des éléments de réflexion critique et de débat sur ce sujet
21-Sep-2016 El EconomistaMiles de personas se manifestaron hoy (20-9) en el barrio europeo de Bruselas contra el TTIP y el pacto comercial ya cerrado con Canadá (conocido por CETA), aún pendiente de ratificación.
21-Sep-2016 EurActivThousands of protesters marched through Brussels to demand the European Union abandon planned transatlantic free trade deals.
21-Sep-2016 Le MondePlusieurs milliers de personnes manifestaient à Bruxelles pour dénoncer le traité de libre-échange transatlantique que l’UE négocie avec les Etats-Unis (TTIP) et son équivalent avec le Canada (CETA).
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