MCOT, Bangkok, 18 April 2006
DPM instructs postponement of US-Thai FTA talks
BANGKOK, April 18 (TNA) - Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Monday revealed that he had instructed postponement of negotiations for the proposed free trade area (FTA) agreement between the United States and Thailand until the new government is formed.
He said he decided to have the US-Thai FTA talks adjourned because he wanted the new government to consider the matter.
In the meantime, Dr. Somkid said he had assigned Permanent Secretary for Commerce Karun Kittisataporn, who is the head of the Thai negotiation team for the planned US-Thai FTA deal, to hold discussions with officials concerned for a while.
“Although the negotiations for the FTA pact with the US will be postponed until the new government is completely formed, I want to affirm that Thailand won’t be put at a disadvantage from the talks," he told journalists.
“We won’t go ahead with any negotiation definitely if we are placed at a disadvantage,” he insisted.
Dr. Somkid said he had delegated Apiradi Tantraporn, Director-General of the Department of Trade Negotiations, to make a plan to forge ahead with negotiations for trade, investment, tourism and other areas with targeted destinations such as China, Japan, India and Russia.
He viewed the past negotiations with these countries had focused only on tax incentives for trade and investment.
From now on, he sees a need to develop mutual trade relations with the countries in the horizontal manner to boost a continued increase in the trade volume and value.
The caretaker deputy premier believed the strengthening of the Thai baht and surging oil prices would proceed in the short run and would not have an impact on the country’s exports.
However, Thai exporters need to adjust themselves to the situation to reduce any possible repercussion, he suggested.
Dr. Somkid was confident the country’s export value in March would reach over US$10 billion and more than US$130 billion for the whole year, up 15-17 per cent year on year as projected by the Commerce Ministry.