Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo
Thailand fails to deliver list of FTA demands
26 July 2004
Junichi Fukazawa / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
Thailand has failed to present a list of products it wants the government to remove from the items subject to Japanese import regulations, according to government sources.
The list is expected to be sent in September, which will leave insufficient time for an agreement to be reached this year.
Normally, free trade talks are based on two lists from each country, one presenting demands and the other areas in which the countries are ready to remove tariffs.
To speed up negotiations due to begin next month, the government submitted its lists to the Thai government in Bangkok on Wednesday.
However, Thailand reciprocated with just a list of the products it could remove tariffs on, an Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry official said.
"The Thai government is becoming increasingly reluctant over trade liberalization. This was done on purpose to delay the talks," the official said.
The government has reportedly demanded significant liberalization in areas such as tariffs, investments and services—areas Bangkok is reluctant to liberalize.
Some suspect the Thai government may upgrade its demands after examining the Japanese lists. "We shouldn’t have given them our lists until the Thai government submitted its list," a government source said.
Negotiations with Malaysia and the Philippines also involve complicated issues, and the signing of agreements with all three nations are expected to be delayed until next year.