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Singapore -Thailand see need to implement ASEAN free trade earlier

MCOT News, Thailand

Singapore-Thailand see need to implement ASEAN free trade earlier

11 November 2004

BANGKOK, Nov 12 (TNA) - Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his visiting Singapore counterpart Lee Hsian Loong have shared the same view that the planned ASEAN trade liberalization should be implemented and achieved earlier than originally set in 2020, according to Government Spokesman Chakraphob Penkair.

Speaking on a result of the formal discussion between the two leaders, he said both viewed Thailand and Singapore had enjoyed good relations in all dimensions.

Many programs had been initiated to boost mutual cooperation such as the exchange of government officials, joint military exercises, and trade liberalization.

The Singapore leader wanted to see more ministerial-level visits and to invite the Thai premier to deliver a speech in Singapore.

He said the two leaders shared the common view that the inauguration of the ASEAN free trade, which is originally scheduled in 2020, should be brought forward. Still, both did not give any specific time for the launch of the ASEAN trade liberalization

They expressed strong support for ASEA Plus initiative under which two countries could liberalize the bilateral trade if they were ready. The third or fourth country could join them later.

They believed ASEAN trade liberalization would gain momentum if the initiative was adopted.

Mr. Chakraphob said the Singapore premier had sought Thailand’s views on ASEAN Plus Three, which represents 10 member countries and 3 non-member ones including China, Japan and South Korea.

The Thai premier assured his Singapore counterpart that Thailand would cooperate with all ASEAN frameworks. At the same time, ASEAN would still serve as a core player in the Southeast Asia.

The Singapore leader had also discussed with the Thai counterpart the future of Myanmar.

He said Mr. Thaksin told the Singapore counterpart that Myanmar should be given time to adjust the decentralization structure as the country’s problems stemmed from political complications. (TNA) - E005