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Open up FTA talks to wider participation

Bangkok Post

Open up FTA talks to wider participation

10 May 2005

Post Today Editorial, May 7. Free trade area agreements made between Thailand and some foreign trade partners have caused a lot of concern and unhappiness among farmers and business operators.

In the latest show of discontent, the Board of Trade and the Federation of Thai Industries last week voiced strong opposition to tariff cuts that may come with an FTA agreement between Thailand and Japan. Their concern cannot be overlooked because the BoT and FTI represent private business operators nationwide.

Of particular concern is the freedom the government has enjoyed in negotiating with trade partners. Isn’t it more prudent to have these matters vetted before a final agreement is reached?

Dairy farmers have raised a hue and cry over possible adverse effects resulting from the FTA agreements Thailand signed with Australia and New Zealand.

The government has promised to help those affected by the trade deals, but this is like shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.

We do not think the government has the sole right to decide which economic sectors should reap the full benefits of trade agreements and which should face their negative consequences.

Without full public participation, how can the government ensure that each sector of the economy gets a fair share of the profits?

It is not too late to let all stakeholders have a say in FTA negotiations, which must be done with transparency and fairness. It is not right to let a select group decide the fate of the country.