MCOT News, 13 September 2005
Govt urged to seek consensus before signing FTA with US
BANGKOK, Sept 13 (TNA) - The Thai government should seek a consensus from the public before signing a free trade area (FTA) agreement with the United States, according to a leading academic.
Speaking at a seminar on “Suggestions for Thaialnd-US FTA,” Jon Ungphakorn, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Social Security and this year’s winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, said on Tuesday that Thailand should learn a lesson of impacts from the FTA agreement between the US and Mexico and Australia.
In Mexico, he said, the FTA pact had resulted in a large number of farmers going bankrupt since the US penetrated low-price farm products into the market.
In Australia, people had no choice but to consume high-price medicines because local producers are no longer able to duplicate the products for sale at lower prices.
“Given the repercussions, I want the government to be broadminded by holding a public consensus on the FTA with the US and proposing the matter to the House of Representatives for consideration before signing any agreement.
“I also call on the media to encourage the public to participate. I view people have paid small attention to the matter, maybe because it is a complicated issue,” he said.
Mr Jorn reiterated he had not opposed the FTA agreement with the US.
He said what he wants is to carry out the matter in a transparent manner.
“Don’t allow the US to have a big say on intellectual properties. Otherwise, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) will be no longer able to produce cheap medicine for consumers. Now, the US has made too much calls. We need not sign any agreement unless we are ready. We have to protect interests of most people of the country, not those of the rich only,” he said. (TNA)