The Thai government announced that it would consider signing up to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement. Thai Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Kittiratt, speaking at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, said Thailand "would commit to join” the next discussions on the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, reported the Bangkok Post. The WTO describes one of the primary benefits of this WTO agreement as follows:
In most countries the government, and the agencies it controls, are together the biggest purchasers of goods of all kinds, ranging from basic commodities to high-technology equipment. At the same time, the political pressure to favour domestic suppliers over their foreign competitors can be very strong.
Many complain that the government procurement process in Thailand is less than transparent and favors domestic over foreign suppliers. Thailand has also seen a number of corruption scandals involving government procurement contracts.
The WTO Government Procurement Agreement is also seen as a means to help reduce such corruption. The Bangkok Post reports that Professor Eswar Prasad, the Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy at Cornell University and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, made the following comments in connection with the Agreement on Government Procurement during the recent World Economic Forum on East Asia:
corruption and inequality were two factors that would continue to challenge and undermine competitiveness in Asian developing economies.
“Both [corruption and inequality] undermine other reforms, and give the perception that benefits of [liberalisation] only go to an elite,” he said.
He said regional integration within Asean and Asia would benefit each country, not because of increased access to capital but rather by helping strengthen the fundamentals of each economy through capital market development, improved governance and institutional reform.
“It’s not the capital, but what comes with the capital that is the benefit,” Mr Prasad said
For more information on existing Thai corruption laws, please click here.