PM sets sights on trade pact now that TPP ship has sailed

Economy November 20, 2015 01:00

By The Nation

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The Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) negotiations should be pursued since the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is now concluded, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha suggested yesterday.

Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila, Prayut said Thailand hopes Apec member countries will be able to achieve a FTAAP partnership that will encompass all member countries, including those that are also TPP members.

At present, the TPP consists of 12 member countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

These countries will have to ratify the deal as soon as possible. Afterwards, the TPP could be further expanded and could lead to the creation of FTAAP.

During the 23rd Apec summit, entitled “Inclusive Growth Through Integrated Economies”, the prime minister said Thailand would fully cooperate with Apec to reach the Bogor declaration on liberalisation of trade and investment by 2020.

Meanwhile, in a related discussion with CY Leung, Hong Kong’s chief executive, on the sidelines of the summit, Prayut invited Hong Kong businesses to invest as clusters and super clusters in Thailand’s special economic zones, which will provide special investment promotion privileges.

According to Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak, Thailand’s deputy government spokesman, Prayut and Leung agreed to push small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to drive both economies.

They proposed discussions between private-sector agencies, such as chambers of commerce, in both countries. Hong Kong is one of Thailand’s main trading partners and investor.

Growing together was essential for SMEs in each economy, Prayut said, emphasising connectivity and access to benefits from free trade pacts.

During the Apec summit, Prayut reiterated the fact that sustainable, economic growth needs cooperation at the regional and global levels, and he said Thailand, as the chair of the Group of 77 developing countries (G77) in 2016, would put great effort into driving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Thailand urged all countries to promote economic integration, and suggested that all nations should develop their own economic reforms with Apec’s support and come up with broader structural reforms to improve international trade and the investment environment.

He said Thailand has been going ahead with national reforms, while focusing on corruption, SMEs development and social protection with a sufficient economy for sustainable, balanced development.

Thailand also supports the Boracay Action Agenda, which promotes micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to more significantly participate in global trade and global value chains, Prayut said.

He also expressed confidence that innovation and technology, which have been applied to MSMEs, would lead to long-term economic development. He called on all Apec member countries to find cooperative measures to help them grow together, which was in line with the Thai government’s “Thailand Plus One” concept.

Under this business model, foreign investors who invest in Thailand will be encouraged to invest in a neighbouring country for mutual growth to bridge the economic gap in Asean.