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Government to go ahead with Thai-US FTA talks

MCOT News, Thailand

Government to go ahead with Thai-US FTA talks

24 January 2006

BANGKOK, Jan 24 (TNA) - The government will go ahead with its negotiations with the United States on the proposed Thai-US Free Trade Area (FTA) Agreement, Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon reaffirmed here on Tuesday.

"The negotiations have been carried on with some positive results so far. The talks will be continued with no suspension," Mr. Kantathi told journalists.

"When overall benefits to the nation and the Thai people are taken into careful consideration, the government has decided to go ahead with the talks," he noted.

Mr. Kantathi’s comments, when asked by the journalists, followed a recent call by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for the government to suspend the planned Thai-US FTA talks, citing fears of adverse effects on the Thai economy caused by trade liberalization with the stronger US economy.

Asked whether the government would raise the controversial Thai-US FTA talks at the House of Representatives’ sessions, the Thai foreign minister said that the government had exchanged views with parties concerned, including the private sector, the parliament and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), since the beginning.

The government is scheduled to appoint a new three-member Thai negotiation team on January 24 following a recent resignation of the former head of the previous Thai negotiation team—Nitya Pibulsonkram, according to the Thai foreign minister.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Somkid Jatusripitak confirmed that the government would continue the Thai-US FTA talks.

He requested the public not to be against the new Thai negotiation team.

"The US is a huge export market of Thailand and all officials concerned have kept in mind to give priority to national benefits and not to put the Thai economy at the disadvantage," Mr. Somkid stressed.