The 2nd Workshop on ‘ASEAN Expert Collaboration for FTA Negotiations with the United States’ Organised by IDEAs at Thailand, Bangkok, 3-4 August, 2006.

Organized by:
International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs)
The Good Governance for Social Development and the Environmental Institute
(GSEI), Bangkok
Thailand Research Fund (TRF), Bangkok
Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

The 2nd Workshop on ‘ASEAN Expert Collaboration for FTA Negotiations with the United States’ was held in Bangkok during 3-4 August, 2006, against the backdrop of Thailand’s proposed bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the US. This was the second in a series meant to provide a cooperative forum for strengthening the analytical capacity of ASEAN academics in FTA negotiations with the US, and also to provide research inputs for presenting alternative proposals before the Thai government negotiating team.

The focus of this workshop was to draw the interlinkages between the issues of investment, intellectual property and trade in goods and services, and the Environment Chapter in the proposed FTA. The brainstorming sessions of the first one and a half days sought to throw light on various issues of dominating concern in the standard US FTA model such as broad definitions of investment, indirect or creeping appropriation and compensation, investor-state dispute settlement, the non-transparent and non-democratic nature of the negotiations, TRIPS-Plus agenda, etc. These sessions centred on the following two papers that were presented for in-depth discussions:

  • Fair Legal Model of Environment Chapter in the Proposed Thai-US FTA By Kengkran Louvirojanakul; and
  • Investment Chapter of Thailand-US FTA in Environmental Context by Lawan Tanadsillapakul

The Thai speakers at the Workshop were Dr. Suthawan Sathirathai (President GSEI), Prof. Lawan Tanadsillapakul (Faculty of Law, Sukothaithammathirat University, Thailand), Dr. Kengkran Louvirojanakul (Legal Affairs Division, Department of Treaties and legal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand), Prof. Suchata Jinachitra (Assistant, Director, Thailand Research Fund), Dr. Jade Donavanik (Dean, Faculty of Law, Siam University), Prof. Sitanon Jesdapipat (Thailand Country Director, WWF) and Prof. Surichai Wun Gaeo (Deputy Director, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University). The international participants were Prof. Jayati Ghosh (IDEAs, New Delhi), Prof. Alicia Puyana (Mexico), Dr. Esteban Perez Caldentey (Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean, UNECLAC, Trinidad & Tobago), Dr. Parthapratim Pal (The Energy Research Institute, New Delhi), Dr. Rodrigo Pizzaro G. (Executive Director, Terram, Chile), Dr. Murali Kallummal (Centre for WTO Studies, IIFT, New Delhi), Ms. Esther Ong (Third World Network, Malaysia), Dr. Smitha Francis (IDEAs, New Delhi), and Ms. Hira Jhamtani (Third World Network, Indonesia).

The public forum on the afternoon of 4th, ”Lessons Learned from US FTAs: Can We Create Fair and Responsible Trade?” was specifically meant to highlight the issues of concern and draw lessons from existing US FTAs and to challenge the promise of market access gains to Thailand under the bilateral FTA. Clear cut empirical evidence emerged in the case NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the Chilean bilateral FTA with the US as well as the CAFTA-DR (Central America and the Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement-) FTA that market access gains in the US would prove the most elusive or just short-term, and that US FTAs takes away most of its FTA partners’ sovereign right in public policy making and harm their productive sectors as well. The papers presented at the forum included:

  • The U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)
    Issues, Implications and Lessons for the Smaller Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean by Esteban Pérez Caldentey
  • IPR Chapter: Impact on the Environment by Hira Jhamtani
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement and the Mexican Economy: Lessons to be Learned from Ten Years of North South Economic Integration by Alicia Puyana
  • The Free Trade Agreement beween the USA and Chile: An instrument of US Comercial Interests by Rodrigo Pizarro
  • US Bilateralism in South East Asia: A Sectoral Analysis of Market Access Issues in the Proposed Thai-US Free Trade Agreement by Smitha Francis and Murali Kallummal
  • US-Thailand Free Trade Agreement: Market Access Issues by Parthapratim Pal and Jayati Ghosh