Thailand’s Bid for the TPP – Time for Trade, or Trade for Time?

According to the article (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/09/28/ontario-quebec-agriculture-ministers-to-shadow-feds-during-key-tpp-talks_n_8210684.html), the Thai government, under Yingluck Shinawatra, announced an interest in joining the TPP in 2012, however the interest was lost under their current military dictatorship. However, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, has recently indicated that they are now interested in joining the TPP.

Although Thailand claims that by joining the TPP their membership would help put the Kingdom back on the trade bloc’s radar, this could be a ploy to wind its way into the good graces of its neighbors as well as the United States.

Two key events have contributed toward Thailand’s newfound embrace of the TPP: the July release of the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report and the deadly Erawan shrine bombings. Both of these events not only forced Thailand’s human rights situation into the open, but made it front page news as well. Therefore, the timing of Thailand’s sudden interest in joining the TPP is convenient and somewhat suspicious. Serious questions are now being raised regarding whether Thailand’s alleged commitment to democratic reforms is legitimate, or if it is merely a way to get back into the world’s good graces.

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