MCOT, Bangkok, 12 Feb 2006
Thai service sector must adapt to FTA challenges
BANGKOK, Feb 12 (TNA) - Economists at the KASIKORN Research Centre (KRC) on Sunday urged Thailand’s service sector to adapt if it plans to survive stiff competition caused by free trade area (FTA) agreements Thailand has signed with other countries.
The KRC said the sector has played a major role in the nation’s economic growth by creating jobs for local people, as well as attracting foreign investment.
It currently amounts to 50 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the economists noted, and without good preparation to compete in free trade markets, the sector could suffer.
The KRC economists said the government should amend certain free trade laws to prevent development of foreign monopolies and develop a skilled work force which can enable the sector to stay competitive.
Thailand has been in negotiations to open its service sector to competitors from US, Peru, Bahrain, India, Japan and China; while it has already signed FTA agreements with Australia and New Zealand which further require the kingdom to further open its marketin the next two years.
The centre expressed more concern on the ongoing negotiations Thailand has conducted with the US, which has pressurized Bangkok to open its market in banking, transportation and telecoms.
It said America has wished to come in and operate fully in telecoms and requested Thailand to relax a prohibition on foreigners to hold certain professions in the kingdom such as in accountancy, law and architecture.
’’Most importantly, America wants Thailand to open its market in e-banking and e-learning so that its investors could have a wide access into Thai consumers via high technology without physically investing inside the kingdom,’’ said the center.
The centre also suggested that the Thai government urgently prepare to cope with free market competition under its bilateral trade agreement obligations under the terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will occur in the near future. (TNA)