Germans worry about impact of free-trade deal with Japan
By Achara Ashayagachat
6 May 2005
The Thai-Japanese free trade agreement should not put German car makers at a disadvantage, German ambassador Andreas von Stechow said yesterday.
The German ambassador said an issue under negotiation between Thailand and Japan on zero tariff for imports of bigger cars could make the pricing of European cars such as Mercedes Benz, BMW and Peugeot uncompetitive with Japanese cars.
``Japanese friends said they could not produce Lexus here to the same standard in Japan while our German brands can be made here to the same standard as in Germany,’’ Mr von Stechow said at a joint press meeting with French ambassador Laurent Aublin.
The Europeans aired their concern to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Finance Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, the German ambassador said, adding European Union trade commissioner Peter Mandelson had also expressed it during his recent trip to Thailand.
The German and French ambassadors were spearheading a European common approach to working with the government on various fronts, including potential impact of the Thai-Japanese free trade agreement on their auto manufacturers in Thailand.
The meeting was held ahead of the arrival today of Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Shoichi Nakagawa to apply more pressure on the Thai government for steel, luxury car and auto-parts market access. The German ambassador hoped Thai leaders would take care of the European industry in Thailand. ``We need a fair environment and consistent government policy and hope the FTA [with Japan] will not interfere with the long-term business plan we’ve developed here,’’ he said, adding Germany will air its concerns during Prime Minister Thaksin’s visit to Berlin in October.