The Nation - Bangkok
FTAs get new moniker
February 01, 2006
Due to growing sentiment in Thailand against free trade agreements (FTAs), the government plans to rename all bilateral free trade pacts to “economic partnership agreements”, in a bid to divert attention from free trade and avoid further intense protests.
In the third day of a visit to Japan, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said yesterday that the free trade aspects of bilateral pacts were just a part of the countries’ economic partnership objectives, so it was appropriate that the name of FTAs should reflect that.
As a result, Somkid said he had asked Thailand’s partners in the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership (Jtep) to agree to rename it “economic partnership agreement”, or EPA, so that it is known neither as a free trade agreement, nor as Jtep. If Japan agrees, the title will also be changed in Japan.
Somkid explained to Japanese officials that the two countries have had a long relationship in terms of economic, political and social issues, and this is why the bilateral agreement between the two countries should have a different name to deals reached with other countries.
He said Thailand is currently trying to attract Japanese investors to establish factories in the Kingdom to make electronics and electrical appliances.
“There’s a high possibility that Japan will set up a production base in Thailand within three years. Japan wants Thailand to become its export base to India, through the Thai-India FTA, which includes those products,” Somkid said.
It is expected that the two countries will sign the free trade agreement on April 3, to ensure it is implemented in October.