Thailand still hopes to join CPTPP

Legislation | | MIC Customs Solutions |

The government in Thailand is hoping to join the CPTPP, but its people may be less sure.

The Thai government is still hoping to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) soon and has taken steps with a view to doing so.

Originally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership prior to the US pulling out in 2017, the CPTPP was signed by countries including Japan, Canada and Australia a year later.

Thailand's government believes becoming part of such a deal could help to revive the economy, which is predicted to shrink by 8.1 per cent this year amid the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fact that existing CPTPP members have also agreed to limit the scope for discriminatory, arbitrary and non-transparent decisions affecting trade is another significant incentive for the Asian nation to join in a post-COVID-19 world.

Further potential advantages include more jobs for Thai people and better access to markets for Thai goods.

However, critics are concerned. In a report for Channel News Asia, farmers explained they are worried such a pact and its tariff-free access to other CPTPP members could open the floodgates to greater competition.

Another fear in the agricultural community is that clauses of the FTA may restrict the use of certain types of seed, meaning that while big businesses may be all right, smaller farmers would be badly affected.

The Thai government has now set up a parliamentary committee to assess the pros and cons of joining the CPTPP, but moving forward may be a significant challenge.

It says it will take until September 2020 to decide whether to join the bloc, but this may mean missing the window of entry for this year.

Furthermore, the commerce minister's advisor Mallika Boonmeetrakool Mahasook told Reuters CPTPP membership will not be proposed to the cabinet at all if the people cannot agree on it.

This is a highly contentious topic and it will be interesting to see if Thailand decides the benefits of being part of the CPTPP outweigh its potential drawbacks.