Thailand: Somkid ready to apply for membership in CPTPP

Thailand looks set to announce an official plan to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a newly formed bloc of 11 Pacific Rim nations excluding the US, in March during Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak’s visit to Japan.
Mr Somkid, who is scheduled to visit Sendai, Hokkaido and Tokyo in the middle of next month, said he would officially announce Thailand’s plan to apply for membership in the CPTPP during the trip.
“Japanese investors who own large production bases in Thailand are quite concerned that Thailand may lose competitiveness if the country delays applying for CPTPP membership,” Mr Somkid said. “Thailand may lag behind other competitors, especially Vietnam, which is considered Thailand’s arch rival for attracting investment, if we delay the application for CPTPP membership.”
He said he already ordered the Commerce Ministry to submit a request to become a CPTPP member during this government’s tenure.
The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to submit a proposal to the cabinet to decide whether to join the CPTPP in early March. Once the proposal is approved, the formal request to join the CPTPP will be sent.
On Feb 14, Mr Somkid ordered the Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and the Commerce and Public Health ministries to call a joint meeting to prepare for CPTPP membership and work out remedy measures to offset the impact of the agreement.
Eleven Pacific Rim countries signed the CPTPP on March 8, which was revised after the US withdrew from the previous TPP agreement in January 2017. The signatories are Singapore, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.
CPTPP members welcomed the interest shown by a number of other economies wishing to join the trade bloc.
Chutima Bunyapraphasara, the acting commerce minister, said the ministry is scheduled to propose a study on CPTPP impact and sensitive issues later this month to the International Economic Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Once approved, the proposal will be submitted to a cabinet meeting, possibly in early March.
For remedy measures, Ms Chutima said the government will consider which sectors will be affected by the CPTPP and possibly earmark the FTA Fund to help afflicted sectors.