Free Trade Agreements Serving Nobody but Businesses
#WhatsHappeningInThailand RCEP. TAFTA. CPTPP. Have you heard these glossy names before? All three of them are so-called "Free Trade Agreements" (FTAs) Thailand is or wants to be a part of. They are supposed to encourage international trade and investment and consequently improve the economic situation of the country. 🚨 But what is the reality and do such agreements actually benefit anyone except foreign investors? Read more below 👇🏼
🚫 FTAs aim to liberalize national economies but too often the price is paid by the poorest and the most marginalized of the society! For example, if Thailand accesses the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), it will lead to the monopolization of farming seeds and plants and will limit access to affordable medicines and treatments. For example, farmers and indigenous peoples who have been using certain variants of seeds for whole generations might have to start paying royalties for them or face high fines and up to 2 years in prison!
#JusticeForPhichit Do you remember villagers from Phichit province who have bqeen fighting corporate impunity for almost 20 years? After years of suffering serious health issues because of a nearby gold mine, the Thai Government eventually decided to close it. Now, an Australian company Kingsgate brought a claim against Thailand for violating its investor rights under the "Investor-State Dispute Settlement" clause of TAFTA, Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. How can FTAs improve anyone's life when they don't respect fundamental human rights and advantage foreign investors?
⚠️ Is the Thai Government listening to the concerns of people who might be affected? Quite the opposite. It keeps the negotiation process a secret from the population, violating people's Constitutional rights to information and participation. Groups such as women, farmers, patients, workers, and indigenous peoples who might be the most affected by the FTAs are excluded from the negotiations which are instead dominated by the Government and the private sector!
📍 On 10 November 2021, Thailand will undergo its 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) — a comprehensive review of its human rights record where it will be held accountable for its human rights violations in front of delegations from the whole world. Each UN Member State, individual country, can make recommendations, and Thailand will accept or note those.
During its 2nd UPR cycle, Thailand did not receive any recommendation directly addressing the adverse impacts of FTAs. However, the Thai Government committed to “promote and protect the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.” Since local communities continue to face severe challenges because of FTAs, the Thai government failed to implement the recommendation.
#VoicesofThailand 🗣 To support the initiative, Manushya Foundation, FTA Watch, and our grassroots partners from the Thai BHR Network have prepared the UPR Factsheet on Adverse Impact of Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements, which details 5 challenges that persist in relation to FTAs and offers suggestions for each challenge.
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👉🏼 Access the UPR Advocacy Factsheet on Adverse Impact of Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Agreements in Thailand here.
👉🏼 Learn more about the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) here.