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PM defends FTA agreements

MCOT News, Thailand

PM defends FTA agreements

12 August 2006

BANGKOK, Aug 12 (TNA) - Defending himself and his government against criticisms of free trade area (FTA) agreements Thailand negotiated with foreign countries, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Saturday said that the FTAs had helped boost trade and increase the country’s exports.

So far the country has signed FTA agreements with four countries—China, India, Australia and New Zealand—with only some sectors are opened for free trade with China and India, Mr. Thaksin said during his weekly radio program.

Under the agreements, Thailand’s exports to the four countries have increased 25 per cent—valued about Bt313 billion—and the country enjoys trade surpluses with India, Australia and New Zealand, he said.

Regarding trade with China, however, Thailand had suffered trade deficits even before the FTA was signed because products from China are inexpensive.

Thailand, Mr. Thaksin said, signed an FTA agreement with China only for agricultural products, while products in other sectors are traded under an international trade mechanism.

He noted that Thailand had enjoyed a trade surplus of more than Bt6.8 billion for goods traded under the Thai-Sino FTA.

Consumers and manufacturers are reaping benefits from the FTA agreements as they could sell more, while the government would assist industries which encounter problems, he said, adding that despite competition, consumers are the ones who gain.

Japan and Thailand have agreed to enter an FTA, but the agreement has not yet been signed as Japan’s prime minister will change and Thailand is going to hold a new general election, Mr. Thaksin said.

Thailand could export more agricultural products to Japan once the agreement is signed, but may have to import raw materials from Japan, for example, steel for used in assembling cars with lowered production costs, while Thai products will ultimately become more competitive in the international market, he added.