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CP urges firms to tap low tariffs under trade pacts

Bangkok Post | 12/03/2010

CP urges firms to tap low tariffs under trade pacts

Thai entrepreneurs need to make the best use of tariff cuts under free trade agreements, says Charoen Pokphand Group, Thailand’s leading agricultural conglomerate.

Agriculture, food and tourism offer the best opportunities due to the country’s strength in those sectors, said Pornsil Patchrintanakul, vice-president for trade rules and regulations.

"We have to put the focus first on the industries where we’re are very strong such as the farm sector, food and tourism, as we have our own technology," said Mr Pornsil.

"[This would be more effective than emphasising] other industries such as automobiles, which are tough for Thailand to become a leader."

Thai industrial and agricultural producers are also being urged to upgrade and enhance the quality of their products and reduce production costs to ensure they stay competitive.

Cheaper goods are expected to flood into the country now that the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) agreement is in full effect.

Mr Pornsil said that government must maintain its subsidy programmes for agricultural products to cushion farmers against the negative impact from the free trade agreements.

More importantly, the government should set up funds to enable local industries to adjust to the changing competitive landscape, he said.

To improve the quality of local products, more funding should be channelled into science and technology, while promotional privileges should be granted for investing in research and development, he said.

"The government and private sector should pay special attention particularly to Asean Economic Community (AEC). Even though the AEC is due to take effect in 2015, little information has been so far disseminated to small-scale operators and consumers," said Mr Pornsil.

"It is necessary to provide in-depth information about higher competition that small-scale operators will face after the AEC is fully integrated.

Consumers also needed to be better educated so they were not duped into buying low quality foreign products just because they were cheaper, he said.

 source: Bangkok Post