Bangkok Post, 12 March 2006
Thailand, Chile agree on need for free-trade pact study
Kantathi hails Santiago as a miracle
Thailand and Chile have agreed to complete a feasibility study this year to help pave the way for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. The agreement was reached in Santiago on Friday during a meeting between newly-elected Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon.
Dr Kantathi is on a visit to Latin America covering Chile, Colombia and Bolivia.
During his meeting with Ms Bachelet, Dr Kantathi commended Chile for its economic success, calling the country a miracle of economic development for using free trade policies to sharpen the competitiveness of Chile’s private sector.
Both sides agreed on the need to strengthen economic and other ties and stressed the need to complete a feasibility study on a Thailand-Chile FTA this year.
Thailand sees Chile as a gateway to more trade and investment in Latin America, while Chile similarly sees Thailand as a gateway for the enhancement of trade and investment ties with Southeast Asia.
Dr Kantathi called for the creation of partnerships between Thai small and medium enterprises and Chilean companies in the field of biotechnology, to which Ms Bachelet agreed.
Other areas of potential cooperation between the two sides include the hotel and restaurant industries, and tourism.
In Colombia, Dr Kantathi said Thailand wanted to enhance cooperation in the fight against drugs during a meeting with Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderon.
Mr Calderon praised Thailand for its success in crop substitution, saying it was a model for other countries to follow. Both countries also agreed that developing an FTA was a possibility.
In Bolivia, Dr Kantathi met with his counterpart David Choquehuanca Cespedes and discussed ways to promote economic development.
The two sides shared the view that sustainable economic development can be achieved by focusing on poverty alleviation, eliminating economic inequities and protecting the environment.
During his visit to the three Latin American countries, Dr Kantathi asked for their support for the candidacy of Surakiart Sathirathai as secretary-general of the United Nations. He is scheduled to return to Bangkok on Tuesday night.