Thailand reevaluates CPTPP pact after China membership expands market size

The Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) said on Monday that Thailand is reevaluating the pros and cons of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade agreement after China signed the pact last week.

Auramon Supthaweethum, the department’s director-general, said the market size of CPTPP is now bigger than it was when it only had 11 signatories, namely Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“With China, the CPTPP population has expanded to over 1.9 billion people or 25 per cent of the global population with a total gross domestic product [GDP] of approximately US$25.3 trillion or 30 per cent of the global GDP,” she said.

However, she added that CPTPP was smaller than the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which comprises 15 members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The RCEP is the world’s largest free trade agreement covering over 2.3 billion people or 30 per cent of the global population with a total GDP of $28.5 trillion or 33.6 per cent of the global GDP.

“China’s move to join the CPTPP agreement will help expand trade and investment opportunities among member countries, especially participation in the regional supply chain, as China is an important material resource and production base in the region,” she said.

“Meanwhile, it proved that China is ready to improve standards and regulations to match those of member countries, such as intellectual property protection, labour rights, e-commerce and state enterprises’ operations.”

Thailand has free trade agreements with nine CPTPP members, namely Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Peru.

Auramon added that Thailand was getting ready to negotiate a free-trade agreement between Asean countries and Canada soon.

“The expansion of CPTPP had caused Thailand to reevaluate agreement’s benefits and impacts, such as tariff reduction or suspension, product origin and trade facilitation rules,” she said.

The Commerce Ministry will also reevaluate the agreement before it proposes changes to the Cabinet, she said.

Since, CPTPP is an issue that is closely followed by many sectors, the International Economic Policy Committee, which is made of senior representatives of the economic sector, is required to participate in the reevaluation as well.

Published : September 21, 2021

Source: The Nation