Earth Times | Sun, 02 Mar 2008
Thai-Chinese FTA leaves a bad taste with garlic growers
Bangkok — A partial free trade agreement (FTA) between Thailand and China has led to a decline in Thailand’s garlic output by 22 per cent in three years, a study revealed Sunday. According to a study conducted by Kasetsart University, The Health Policy Foundation and FTA Watch, Thailand’s garlic production fell from 96,000 tons in 2004 to 75,000 tons last year, as cheaper imported garlic from China flooded the market after the inking of the Thai-Chinese FTA in 2003, said The Nation newspaper.
The Thai-Chinese FTA was limited to a select list of fruits and vegetables, slashing import tariffs to zero on the designated items.
"One third of garlic available here is no longer grown in Thailand but imported, a lot of it from China," concluded the study, titled "Thai-Chinese FTA: Impacts of Thai Society."
The study noted that Thailand also imports garlic from neighbouring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Since 2003, domestic garlic prices have fallen to less than 50 baht (1.56 dollars) a kilogram, forcing many Thai farmers out of the trade.
"In the past, farmers and local businessmen bargained for the right price, depending on season," said Kasetsart researcher Detcharat Sukkamnerd. "Now the pricing is in the hands of a few big importers."