Bangkok Post | 12 October 2007
NLA nod ’not needed for JTEPA’
Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram insisted the Thailand-Japan free trade agreement, signed by the Surayud administration, is in line with the 2007 constitution and it is not necessary for it to be endorsed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). Mr Nitya spoke at the NLA meeting in response to a motion raised yesterday by NLA member Somchai Swangkarn who said the the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA), or Thailand-Japan free trade pact, violates Article 190 of the charter that requires any international treaties and agreements involving the country’s trade and investment to be endorsed by the parliament, currently the NLA.
The NLA member claimed the agreement signed in April would come into effect on Nov 1, after the constitution which came into force on Aug 24.
Mr Somchai also questioned the content in two letters sent earlier by the Foreign Ministry to the secretary to the cabinet.
The ministry suggested in one letter that the cabinet forward the pact to the NLA for consideration.
However, it sent a second letter the next day to cancel the first one and said that the pact needed no endorsement by the NLA.
Mr Nitya admitted the change in stance, but said it was done after more thorough consideration by his ministry, which resolved that the pact did not come under Article 190 that demands the parliament’s endorsement for international agreements.
Mr Nitya said that the agreement was sealed on April 3 this year, nearly five months before the 2007 constitution took effect on Aug 24. Therefore, Mr Nitya said, it was not necessary for the deal to go through the parliamentary process under the provision of the constitution.
’’We clarified this issue before an NLA committee 15 times and the National Human Rights Commission 10 times,’’ he said.
Mr Nitya also played down environmental and economic concerns about the pact, saying the government had prepared all the necessary measures to deal with problems.
He said the government would set up a fund to cushion any unpleasant impact on affected businesses and had already informed the Japanese Foreign Ministry about finding ways to alleviate hazardous waste and micro-organism patent violation concerns.