- The Peru government’s web page invites registrations for the upcoming TPP talks, but is confusing about which countries are involved.
Bangkok Post | 26 Apr 2013
Thailand not involved in TPP talks
A misleading web page promoting the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations indicates that Thailand is participating, when in fact Bangkok is staying away from the TPP at this point.
The US Trade Representative early Friday announced details of the 17th round of TPP negotiations due to begin in Peru on May 15.
The email provided details on registration for media and stakeholder (non-government organisations and civic groups), by the Peruvian ministry of foreign trade and tourism.
The Peru government’s web page invites registrations for the upcoming TPP talks, but is confusing about which countries are involved.
The web page, half Spanish and half English, displays flags of countries and groups that are "full participants" or "discussing entry" and "negotiating" a part in the talks.
Thailand’s flag is prominently displayed in the first section.
It is not the only error. Countries that are full members of the TPP negotiations are left out - Australia, Brunei and New Zealand - while others that will never be admitted are included, such as Cuba and the European Union.
The confusing mashup of TPP participants may intend to attract media and stakeholders. That would explain Thailand, but leave a mystery about, say, why Australian groups and media go unmentioned.
TPP is a pet project of US President Barack Obama. During his official visit to Bangkok last November, he invited Thailand to take part in the TPP negotiations.
Thailand has been standoffish about TPP from the beginning. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, despite her personal rapport with Mr Obama, went to some trouble in November to distance the government from any commitment to the TPP talks.
"You can say we are officially still thinking about whether to participate in the TPP negotiations," a foreign ministry official told BangkokPost.com on Friday.
Japan officially joined the negotiations earlier this week, but after 16 negotiating sessions, the TPP still is far from its goal of fully involving the Asia-Pacific countries.
As of today, just 12 countries are involved in the group’s negotiations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
Thai NGOs and many businesses have warned that the TPP is dominated by the US and seeks to impose new and stronger restrictions on intellectual property, human rights and labour rules.