Aggressive response suggested to US push

Bangkok Post, 1o September 2005

Aggressive response suggested to US push

ACHARA ASHAYAGACHAT

Thailand should be more aggressive in its response to the US push for environmental and labour protection under the bilateral free trade area (FTA) agreement, a seminar sponsored by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) was told. "We should not consider only the benefits or impact of one particular issue but should look at the overall impact on other sectors," said Asst Prof Chumnong Sorapipatana, adviser to the TRF research project on Thai-US FTA. Asst Prof Chumnong said Thailand needed to regulate investment that might affect its obligations under multilateral environmental agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, or concerns by other countries on issues such as genetically modified organisms.

"If we use US vegetable oil produced with GMO-corn or bean in EU-bound canned tuna exports, that might be a problem. We should be more aggressive than we are now," said the lecturer from King Mongkut Institute’s Bang Mot Campus.

Thailand should abide by obligations under international environment agreements such as the Basel treaty, which promotes cleaner manufacturing, curbs on hazardous waste and controls on the movement of these wastes to prevent possible dumping through disguised exports of recycled products.

Asst Prof Chumnong said Thailand should ignore the US request that bans on tobacco advertising should be revoked to protect American investors.

"Health warnings on tobacco packets are for the benefit of health safety, and we should not let the US use the investment protection clause as a tool to overturn our health regulations," he said.

Thanphuying Suthawan Sathirathai, the research project head, expressed concern the US might exploit legal loopholes and export used goods that could be hazardous to the environment, as Thailand still lacked proper legal tools and enforcement in handling industrial waste.

She was relieved the Thai negotiating team had listened to her team’s recommendations, especially on the issue that Thailand’s obligations under multilateral environmental agreements should also be respected by its American counterparts.

source: Bangkok Post