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06BANGKOK5406 THAILAND REJECTS ASEAN-KOREA FTA

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“76927″,”9/1/2006 9:23″,”06BANGKOK5406″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,”06REFTEL:SEOUL1981″,”VZCZCXRO2529

RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHBK #5406 2440923

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 010923Z SEP 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1359

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2075

RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC”,”UNCLAS BANGKOK 005406

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE PASS USTR

USDOC FOR JKELLY

 

E.O. 12958:N/A

TAGS: ECON, ETRD, TH

 

SUBJECT: THAILAND REJECTS ASEAN-KOREA FTA

 

REFTEL: SEOUL 1981

 

1. (U) Thailand declined to join its nine ASEAN neighbors in the

signing of the ASEAN-Korea FTA in Kuala Lumpur last week. Mr. Sarig

Ubolbarn of the Department of Trade Negotiations explained that the

RTG had yet to reach agreement with Korea on opening Korea\’s market

to Thailand\’s rice exports. The RTG did not attempt to continue

negotiations in Kuala Lumpur and likely will not schedule further

bilateral discussions with Korea until after general elections are

held in Thailand later this year.

 

2. (SBU) Although rice exports presented the most serious and public

disagreement with Korea, other issues remain to be discussed.

Thailand is concerned about its ability to conform to the FTA\’s

model for tariff reduction and is still engaged in internal

discussions over which items should be placed in the \”normal track\”

or the \”sensitive track\” (see reftel). The RTG is struggling as

well with Korea\’s more stringent SPS regulations. Thai industry has

protested inclusion of products from North Korea\’s Kaesong special

economic zone, fearing an influx of cheap imports, and Sarig

suggested there would be further negotiations on the rate of tariff

reductions for Kaesong goods before Thailand would sign the final

agreement.

 

3. (SBU) Thailand\’s rice trade with Korea make up less than one

percent of its total exports to Korea (USD 2.4 billion in 2005) but

nevertheless holds a critical place in negotiations for Thailand.

Sarig conceded that other agricultural and seafood products were

more important exports to Korea at present that could benefit from

immediate tariff reductions, but felt the RTG had to try to crack

the market to benefit Thailand\’s many rice growers. Negotiations on

investment and services remain to be finalized and Thai trade

officials expect the rice issue may be resolved within those

negotiations.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:33 am

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