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Thailand mulls membership in Asia-Pacific trade pact

27 May 2020

Thailand’s cabinet has agreed to set up a committee to consider whether the country should seek membership in an Asia-Pacific trade agreement after widespread opposition in April.

Reuters reports that the opposition was tied to concerns that joining the pact may harm Thailand’s agriculture industry.

The lower house panel will open for public comments on membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek told a news briefing.

"The committee's conclusion will be useful for the cabinet to decide on CPTPP membership... and the government wants them to get it done within 30 days," she said.

Thailand’s commerce ministry previously said its study showed membership would boost economic growth and help offset the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the cabinet shelved the decision on membership in April following opposition from civil society groups, politicians and prominent social figures. There were concerns that joining the pact would hurt the agricultural and healthcare sectors of the economy.

Member countries, including Japan and Canada, signed the CPTPP deal in 2018 without the United States. The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when President Donald Trump withdrew from it.

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