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FTA protesters’ views

The Nation, Bangkok

FTA protesters’ views

Published on January 09, 2006

Rallies against free-trade talks between Thai and US officials today are set to draw a record number of protesters. Here are the reasons for this given by some planning to attend the protests:

 Kamol Uppakaew of a network of people living with HIV/Aids: “We have learnt that the US included a condition to extend the period during which intellectual property rights (IPR) are protected ... This will make the prices of all drugs jump, including antiretroviral medications, which are a necessity for HIV/Aids infected people.”

 Jindan Chareonsuk of the Four-region Slum Network: “Free trade in the service sector would lead to the privatisation of infrastructure including tap water and electricity, which would eventually lead to high prices for life’s basic necessities ... If the agreement is concluded, we will all die.”

 Ubon Yuuwaa of the Alternative Agricultural Network: “IPR and agricultural market access is a threat to small-scale farmers. Both would be perfect tools for the US to use to control the Thai agricultural sector. An IPR system, with patents at its core, would force Thai farmers to buy seeds from US firms every year and market access would lead them to control the price of produce.”

 Prayad Mongkolthep garlic farmer from Chiang Mai’s Chaiya Prakan district: “The lesson from the Thai-China FTA is that we can’t let the agreement with the US, which is richer and more powerful than China, go through. Since the agreement with China, I have been unable to sell garlic produce because imports from China are cheaper. The FTA might be good for some people, but for small-scale farmers like me it’s a death sentence.”

 source: The Nation