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Government urged to defer FTA deals with US and Japan

Government urged to defer FTA deals with US and Japan

BANGKOK, June 5 2006 (TNA) - Thailand’s caretaker government has been urged to defer its conclusion of bilateral free trade area (FTA) agreements with the United States and Japan until a newly-elected administration takes office.

Kiart Sitthiamorn, deputy head of the former opposition Democrat Party’s economic task force, said here on Sunday that a caretaker government has no consitutional mandate to clinch any FTA pact with trading parterns.

He noted that FTA pacts with trading partners must be approved by Thai parliament and called for the current interim government to defer inking the planned FTA accords with the US and Japan.

Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Somkid Jatusripitak earlier said that he would forge ahead negotiating and clinching the planned FTA pacts with the two world superpowers, citing concerns that Washington might turn to ink FTA deals with other countries in the region if the planned Thai-US FTA pact is delayed, and that the planned Thai-Japanese FTA pact might be further delayed if it is not signed before incumbent Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s term ends in September.

Mr. Kiart said the Democrat Party had sent a letter to Washington, urging the US government to postpone the planned FTA pact with Thailand until it could be scrutinized and approved by the Thai parliament.

The senior Democrat member also urged the government to review possible impacts the planned bilateral FTA pacts with Washington and Tokyo would have on Thailand’s particular sectors and the overall Thai economy.

He noted that a Democrat Party study had found some disparities between the ASEAN-Japanese FTA pact and the planned Thai-Japanese FTA deal.

Mr. Kiart also proposed that public hearings be held so that Thai farmers and representatives of other sectors in the Thai economy which might be affected by the planned Thai-US FTA pact could express their views and problems.

The Democrat urged as well that the government review the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Agreement, saying Thailand had benefited only 20 per cent from the regional trade pact so far.

Thailand and other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, are obliged by the AFTA. (TNA)

 source: MCOT