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Thai-US FTA will make medicine unaffordable

MCOT News, Thailand

Thai-US FTA will make medicine unaffordable

3 April 2005

BANGKOK, April 3 (TNA) - A Democrat Party MP has expressed fresh concerns over the possible social and economic implications of the free trade agreement currently being negotiated between Thailand and the US.

Pharmaceutical products will be more expensive and export barriers against Thai farmers, said MP Kiat Sitthi-amorn, a former president of the Thai-Foreign Chambers of Commerce.

He urged the government to carefully consider all these implications, ahead of the third round of negotiations taking place in Pattaya between 4-8 April.

The US is known to heavily subsidise its farming sector heavily, Mr. Kiat said. He said he feared that Thailand would follow Mexico, where farmers were hit hard after the bilateral free trade agreement with the US came into force.

The farming industries in all countries that have signed bilateral free trade agreements with the US have suffered, the MP said.

The Thai government should carefully consider the issue of intellectual property rights under the free trade agreement, urged the Mr. Kiat.

Mr. Kiat said the Thai government had to think hard about meeting the US demands for IP protection. He cited a study by the international aid organisation, OXFAM which estimated that the price of the anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS patients in Thailand would rise by between five and twenty-five fold as a result of the FTA with the US.

A number of issues that could cause problems for Thailand, like anti-dumping measures and sanitary measures, do not appear to be on the agenda of this week’s talks, he said

The government should also consider measures to assist the private sector, the Mr. Kiat urged. (TNA)