Thailand: Somkid: Japan backs Thai CPTPP bid

  • Japan has agreed to support Thailand becoming a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a newly formed bloc of 11 Pacific Rim nations excluding the US.
  • Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak led high-ranking Thai officials in a meeting on 19 Jul 18 with Japanese counterparts led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo.
  • Mr Somkid said Japan has agreed to Thailand’s request and is willing to support Thailand becoming a member of CPTPP. Thailand plans to apply for membership later in 2018.
  • The 11 CPTPP countries combined had USD10.2tr in GDP in 2017, making up 13.5% of the global total.
  • Mr Somkid said CPTPP membership will enhance the competitiveness of Thai entrepreneurs.
  • In a related development, the deputy prime minister said Japan has pledged to help accelerate the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) so that talks can be concluded by the end of 2018.
  • The RCEP was launched in Nov 12 with the aim of establishing deeper economic cooperation among the 10 Asean members and six dialogue partners (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand). Member countries represent 29% of global trade and have a combined population of 3.35 billion.
  • Mr Somkid expects trade and investment to flood in once RCEP is implemented.
  • At the High-Level Joint Commission meeting between Thailand and Japan, the two countries also agreed to revise the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) to enhance in-depth cooperation.
  • “JTEPA focuses largely on import tariff cuts,” he said. “We’re looking to overhaul the 10-year pact to cover greater cooperation.”
  • Mr Somkid said the government also agrees with Japan’s proposal to speed up the Shinkansen-like high-speed railway from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The Transport Ministry is scheduled to propose the development for cabinet approval in Aug 18.
  • The cabinet has approved in principle a feasibility study of the 670-kilometre bullet train route worth THB420bn. He said the investment cost is relatively high because of the use of Shinkansen technology.

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