Thailand Considering Joining TPP Talks.

Thai Prime Minister, Ms Yingluck, said “Thailand would…consider joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership [(TPP)], a multilateral trade deal described by Mr Obama during the recent Apec Summit in Hawaii as a ‘21st century state of the art’ initiative”, reported the Bangkok Post on 21 November 2011.  The TPP is a far reaching regional trade agreement that aims to cut import tariffs to zero and substantially increase transparency in areas such as customs and government procurement.

The TPP negotiations already include the following nine countries: U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.  Several weeks ago, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan announced that Japan would join talks on the TPP.  Following Japan’s announcement, Canadian and Mexican both expressed interest in joining the TPP talks.  

The TPP aims to create what will be the most important regional trading group in Asia Pacific, and many foreign investors in Thailand had asked that the Thai government join the TPP talks.  “Foreign investors, led by Japanese firms operating in Thailand, [had] expressed their concerns and called on the government to join the TPP negotiations, on which the US has taken the lead, said Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the Foreign Trade Negotiation Department”, the Bangkok Post reports here. The AFP reports that in Japan:

Major businesses, academics and mainstream media have long pushed Tokyo to join the deal, a move they say will improve access to foreign markets and enhance regional trade and investment.

An outline of the TPP can be found here.  Some of key features of the TPP include:

  • Customs: "establishing customs procedures that are predictable, transparent and that expedite and facilitate trade" """"""""""""""
  • Transparency/Infrastructure Rehabilitation: "ensure that procurement covered …is conducted in a fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner" 
  • Financial Services: "improve transparency, non-discrimination, fair treatment of new financial services, and investment protections and an effective dispute settlement remedy"
  • Investment Protection: The TPP contains "provisions to ensure non-discrimination, a minimum standard of treatment, rules on expropriation" …"
  • Work Permits:  "promote transparency and efficiency in the processing of applications for temporary entry [to perform work]"
  • Telecommunications: "promote competitive access for telecommunications providers in TPP markets"