logo logo

Open letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

FTA Watch | 15 November 2012

Open Letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

We, the undersigned civil society groups, urge Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra to suspend any announcement to enter into negotiations towards
the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) until there has been a comprehensive,
clear and thorough study of both positive and negative consequences, and
all steps have been taken to comply strictly with the Constitution,
including an urgent consultation with the people. These are the
responsibilities of a democratically elected government. While it is true
that Thailand should not stand still in the development of its trade and
foreign relations, such important matters cannot be decided in haste.

More important than the discourse of being left behind in trade
negotiations, is the consideration of the major potential damaging impact
on the welfare of the people and towards sustainable development of

We the civil society groups who follow those international negotiations
which may have a variety of social impacts, are very concerned about the
rushed speed of the decision making by the government. In particular, we
are alarmed by the approval of the Cabinet of a draft joint statement
announcing the opening of negotiations on a draft Trans-Pacific Strategic
Economic Partnership (TPP), the revival of ministerial meetings under the
trade and investment framework agreement between Thailand and the United
States (TIFA-JC), and the plans for the Thai Prime Minister and the
President of the United States to make a Joint Press Statement, this Sunday
on 18th November.

The Cabinet has arrived at these decisions very hastily, even though they
will have widespread impacts for the social and economic security of the
country, or bring about serious binding commitments on trade and
investment, or demands on the national budget. None of the relevant
government agencies, private sector or civil society groups have been
allowed any part or voice in this process. Thus, we do not have any
confidence in the Cabinet’s rushed decision making.

Although a joint press statement between the Prime Minister of Thailand and
the President of the United States may not be governed by Article 190 of
Thai Constitution, the declaration of bilateral negotiations on the TPP,
along with the joint press statement itself, are clearly political and
international relations commitments. Therefore, there must be
comprehensive consideration and consultation, based on sufficient knowledge
and understanding, concerning the positive and negative outcomes that will
follow from entering into the above agreements.

The TPP is an agreement which the US government has made clear its
intention to meet the needs and interests of trans-national corporations,
which have not been accepted under other international trade agreements,
particularly those within the WTO. Such an agreement will have a variety
of severe impacts, including:

1. Access to medicines and the national public health system will be
disadvantaged as a result of the extension of the intellectual property
rights protection regime, data exclusivity, limits on the use of flexible
mechanisms within the TRIPS agreement, patents over surgical practices and
diagnostics, and limits in negotiation and control over the price of
medicines under the Universal Health Care Scheme, etc. These will have a
direct impact on the government policy to reduce inequality of access to
health care.

2. The patenting of animal and plant species will lead to the
monopolization of biodiversity and genetic resources that could result in
farmers paying more for seeds etc. This goes against the government policy
to enhance the welfare of the farmers.

3. The opening up of financial services to permit foreign citizens to hold
100% share ownership, along with financial deregulation will put Thailand
at high risk of economic crisis.

4. Provisions for Investment Protection for Foreign Investors will allow
foreign investors to file lawsuits to quash public policy and demand
damages from the government through International Arbitration Mechanisms.
This will further restrict the space for implementing the government’s
public policies.

Furthermore, the system for negotiation of the TPP Agreement is such that
countries who enter late into the negotiations will have to find agreement
with those who have completed their negotiations already. Therefore
Thailand will not only have to consider the current demands of the US,
there may be several other bilateral demands to follow.

We urge the government to be conscious of its duties to the public as a
democratically-elected government.

(Assist.Prof.Sumlee Jaidee)
Chair Person of FTA Watch

FTA Watch
The Thai Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (TNP+)
Renal Failure Patient Group
Alternative Agricultural Network
Rural Pharmacists Foundation
Drug Study Group
Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS
Foundation for AIDS Rights
AIDS ACCESS Foundation
BioThai Foundation
Foundation for Consumers
Health and Development Foundation
Thai Holistic Health Foundation
Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH)