Bangkok Post | 9 June 2006
FTA hurting Thai farmers
Khao Sod Editorial - - A recent study led by Thammasat University academic Rangsan Thanapornpan claims that the Australia-Thailand free trade agreement has benefited only a small group of industrialists, while people in the agricultural sector have been adversely affected.
The study says Thailand enjoyed a trade surplus with Australia during 1998-2004. In 2005, the year the FTA was first enforced, Thailand had a trade deficit with Australia worth 3,199 million baht. Not to mention other repercussions that hurt the Thai farmers. In 2005, imports of milk and dairy products from Australia increased by 57%. Beef imports also increased because the tariff was reduced from 51 to 40%. Thai dairy farmers and cattle raisers were directly affected.
Although the volume of Thai exports to Australia grew by 28.5% in 2005 because of tariff reductions, Thai goods are now less competitive because Australia expanded its FTAs with other countries.
The government should look at ways to correct the problems emanating from the FTA with Australia, or even with China. It is not right to let a small group of people benefit, while the majority suffers from the effects of free trade agreements.