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Third round of Thai-US FTA talks postponed until after election

Xinhua Online

Third round of Thai-US FTA talks postponed until after election

13 December 2004

BANGKOK, Dec. 13 (Xinhuanet) — The third round of free trade talks between the United States and Thailand has been postponed until after the latter’s general election in February 2005, local press reported on Monday.

The bilateral trade talks, scheduled for next week in Honolulu earlier, could possibly stretch into 2006 following the delay, said the Business Day website.

"We have not set the new date for the third round, but both sides have significant work to do to analyze and exchange trade data and other information," an unidentified US official was quoted as saying.

She added they understand it can be difficult to develop positions on sensitive issues in the run up to the elections.

"It is too early to speculate when we’ll finish."

Meanwhile, an official from the Thai embassy in the United States said the two sides would decide on the dates for the next round after the Feb. 6 election.

Negotiators could meet periodically to work on various issues before a formal third round is held.

The official acknowledged that many Thai farmers are worrying about the adverse effect the FTA could bring to their farm products.

Observers say the Thai government still has to do more to convince its people of the merits of a free trade pact with the United States.