[BANGKOK] Thailand should seek to participate in Asia-Pacific trade agreement negotiations in August before deciding on membership in the pact, a group of leading business associations in Thailand said on Wednesday.
Opposition parties and some civil society groups oppose membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), saying it may harm the farm and healthcare sectors.
But joining the talks will help the South-east Asian country learn conditions of the block so that it can adjust to competition, Predee Daochai, chairman of a joint standing committee on commerce, industry and banking, told a briefing.
"The process of seeking membership will take at least four years and Thailand can withdraw at any stage if found unbeneficial," he said.
The commerce ministry earlier said membership would boost Thailand's economy, helping offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Member countries, including Japan and Canada, signed the CPTPP deal in 2018 without the United States. The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was thrown into limbo in early 2017 when President Donald Trump withdrew from it.