Thailand’s Commerce Ministry back-peddles on joining CPTPP
Under pressure pharmaceutical and agricultural groups, the Thai Commerce Ministry has withdrawn its cabinet proposal recommending that Thailand should join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit told the media today that the sending of a letter of intent to join was approved by the International Economic Policy Committee, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.
He added, however, that since the issue is controversial and is opposed by several groups, concerned with protection of plant species and access to affordable medicines in Thailand, he decided to withdraw the proposal, which was due to be tabled during the cabinet meeting tomorrow.
He also promised not to raise the issue with the cabinet again, unless there is a consensus among the stakeholders over entering into the multi-lateral agreement.
In an attempt to allay concerns about patents on Thai plant species, Mr. Jurin explained that a law, known as the Plants Protection Act B.E. 2542, is in place to allow the patenting of plant species in Thailand.
If Thailand is to join CPTPP, he said several clauses would need to be amended, such as the duration of patent protection and the right of Thai farmers to collect their plant seeds for cultivation.
Eleven countries have already signed the agreement, with seven of them having already ratified it.
The CPTPP is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Its combined economies represent 13.4% of global GDP, making it the third largest free trade area after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Single Market.