Junta Cautions Trans-Pacific Partnership as Thai Economy Continues to Struggle
BANGKOK – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday, Thailand still has until 2017 before reaching a decision on whether to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement.
Prayut said the Ministry of Commerce had invited the Federation of Thai Industries, the Board of Trade and the Thai Bankers Association to discuss the matter.
“We are very interested but we must weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully,” Thailand’s deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak said of the mammoth free trade pact whose 12 current members comprise around 40 percent of the global economy, the Diplomat reports.
Expressing interest, Somkid added, would put Thailand “on their radar screen”
Somkid’s cautious optimism is nothing new. U.S. officials have long held the belief that Thailand, in addition to other countries like the Philippines, would probably be one of the countries that will eventually sign on to the TPP, joining their four existing ASEAN partners Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
He said Thailand still has until 2017 to make a decision on whether to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership.
“We will not close off the chance of joining but we need to consider this matter carefully”
In May 2014, General Prayut Chan-o-cha seized power from the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, promising to bring Thailand back to prosperity.
Yet the ruling junta have shown themselves to be completely outmatched by the challenge to reverse Thailand’s economic decline. Instead, Thailand’s economic situation has suffered further declines, a nosedive similar to the battering administered to civil liberties at the hands of the military government.
Since taking power in May 2014, both rural incomes and exports have fallen sharply, and Prayut’s junta has consistently delayed a necessary devaluation of the Thai baht in order to counterbalance the yuan’s slide. The country lost in 2014 between US$8.5 billion and $12.8 billion in missed GDP growth, FDI flows tumbled by 38.7% in the first 6 months of 2015, exports contracted by almost 5% while household debt reached a ten-year high.
And since the politics of fear are timeless, Prayut has been looking for scapegoats to distract Thais from the worsening reality of their daily lives.
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