Thailand eager to join TPP trade deal: Deputy PM

By Bangkok Post, The Nation   June 1, 2016 | 03:12 pm GMT+7

Thailand hopes to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) when the pact opens up for new membership in the near future, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said during a visit to Tokyo yesterday.

Thailand will seek support from member countries including Japan, said Somkid at a gathering of business leaders in Japan.

"With more than one year left before the TPP is open to new member states, Thailand will take this opportunity to conduct a public hearing to voice opinion from all involved sectors before signing the agreement, in order to reduce conflict in society and find remedial measures or an 'introduction program' in advance," he explained.

Thailand will hold public hearings to gather feedback from all shareholders - a process which is expected to take about a year. These hearings have been previously used to sound out public opinion before the country signed free trade agreements with other countries.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has confirmed the country's readiness to join the TPP, and a committee chaired by Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn has been set up to prepare for the move, Somkid added

Somkid said the government believes joining the TPP will do more good than harm for the country, adding that even future governments will remain committed to the TPP as it has significant implications for the country in the long term.

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Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Tuesday that Thailand will apply to join the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) as soon as possible. He made the commitment when he delivered the keynote speech at at Nikkei Forum 22 International Conference on the Future of Asia (2016) in Tokyo. Photo courtesy of Thailand's Government House.

Studies have been conducted to assess whether or not it is suitable for Thailand to join the group.

If Thailand opted out of the TPP, Thailand’s exports to member countries would decline by $396 million annually, cutting its trade surplus with them from $8.4 billion to $8 billion.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), including 12 nations, was finally signed in February after several rounds of negotiations that took over five years. It is expected to take effect two years from now, and there is widespread speculation about how it will affect Thailand.