12 and 14 November 2003

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Further opening of the economy would support robust growth

This fourth Trade Policy Review of Thailand has undoubtedly contributed to a better understanding of recent developments in its trade and trade-related policies. Our discussion has been facilitated by the informative contribution of Ambassador Puangrat Asavapisit and her delegation as well as by the incisive comments of our Discussant, Ambassador Seixas Corrêa.

Members noted Thailand's prudent macroeconomic policies, trade liberalization and structural reforms, including those in the financial and corporate sector, and encouraged the authorities to continue with this approach, which has contributed to the steady development of the economy since the previous Review in 1999.

Members commended Thailand on its active participation in the multilateral trading system, including its support for the Doha Development Agenda. Noting that Thailand has become more involved in bilateral/regional trade initiatives, some Members enquired about the likely impact of these arrangements. In this context, they asked how Thailand intended to deal with the added complexity that the resulting rules would entail for its trade regime and the compatability of these arrangements with the multilateral trading system.

Members encouraged Thailand to continue reforms, including improvements in customs procedures and liberalization of foreign ownership restrictions. Members expressed concern about relatively high tariffs faced by their exports, particularly in agriculture, to Thailand; they called for greater transparency in the tariff regime, reduced tariff rates and tariff escalation, and a narrower gap between bound and applied tariff rates. Members also encouraged Thailand to increase the transparency of its import licensing regime.

While noting various new laws and regulations on the protection of intellectual property rights, Members encouraged Thailand to continue its efforts to combat the infringement of these rights. Some Members sought clarification of developments concerning Thailand’s regulatory regime for the telecommunications sector.

Members also sought clarification on other issues, notably: domestic regional imbalances; contingency measures; standards and SPS; government procurement; local-content requirements; export duties and controls; investment incentives; subsidies; privatization; competition policy; liberalization of trade in agriculture and fisheries products; and reform of the energy and various other services sectors.

Members expressed their appreciation of the oral and written responses to their questions as provided by the Thai delegation; they looked forward to receiving answers on any outstanding questions.

This brings us to the conclusion of our fourth Review of Thailand. The large number of advance questions, the many interventions and the high level of attendance indicate the important role that Thailand plays at the WTO. In this context, I would encourage Thailand to continue to strongly support, as it has up to now, the multilateral trading system.