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Govt opens FTA dialogue

Bangkok Post, Thailand

Govt opens FTA dialogue

13 February 2006

(TNA) - Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Somkid Jatusripitak asked academics to keep an open mind on the proposed Thai-US Free Trade Area agreement, saying that the FTA would benefit the two countries equally.

Mr. Somkid said he had talked to many academics both in the state and private sectors about Thailand’s free trade negotiations, particularly with the US.

The Ministry understood that the academics feared that the Thai-US FTA would put Thailand at a disadvantage. He said he had made it clear that they shouldn’t worry because the negotiation was based on ’win-win’ principles.

Mr. Somkid said he asked the academics not to be biased and divided the political issue from the trade issue. The last six rounds of talks were only about what would be discussed in the FTA negotiation and there was no conclusion or agreement reached as said in rumours.

More details would be discussed in the next rounds. If any issue will put Thailand in a disadvantage, it won’t be put on the agenda.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the academics now understood Thailand’s stance and were relieved.

He said that early next month he will meet Thai negotiators for both the US and Japanese FTA agreements, and that they would brief the House of Representatives and the Senate on the details of FTA

The briefing is expected to take two days beginning March 6, Mr. Somkid said, adding that he believed that both countries would benefit on an equal basis.