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Thai-US FTA talks left for new Thai govt

Bangkok Post | 13 July 2006

Thai-US FTA talks left for new Thai govt

UNITED STATES - Thailand’s new government after the next general election later this year will take care of further negotiations between Washington and Bangkok on the proposed Thai-US Free Trade Area (FTA) Agreement, Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon said on Wednesday.

Speaking in a special interview with Thai News Agency (TNA) from the United States, Dr. Kantathi said he had met and held talks with his US counterpart Dr. Condoleezza Rice to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as issues of mutual interest.

The issues include the planned FTA pact between the United States and Thailand and Washington’s plan to grant its trade privilege under the generalised system of preference (GSP) to developing countries later this year.

Dr. Kantathi said he informed Dr. Rice that Thailand views the planned Thai-US FTA agreement a sensitive issue in which public and parliamentary participation to exchange ideas and opinions is needed.

Thailand’s current caretaker government has, therefore, decided to leave new rounds of the Thai-US FTA talks to the new government after the next general election so that the parliament and the public can fully participate in the talks, according to the Thai foreign minister.

"I’ve informed Dr. Rice of the reasons behind the postponement of the Thai-US FTA talks," he said.

The Thai foreign minister said he also asked Washington to renew the GSP to some Thai export products later this year in order to support Thai entrepreneurs, particularly those running small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The US government reportedly plans to scrap the GSP for Thailand later this year, citing the country’s development to a satisfactory level as the reason.

Meanwhile, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is also lobbying American authorities for the extended GSP for the Thai exporters later this year.

The Thai foreign minister said Washington had also expressed interest in and supported Thailand’s role in helping address the nuclear problem in the Korean Peninsula and in promoting economic crop plantations as the substitution of drug-crop plantations in African countries.

Dr. Kantathi revealed that his US counterpart also promised to take part in the forthcoming summits of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be held in Malaysia later this month. (TNA)

 source: Bangkok Post