KUALA LUMPUR: Thailand has deferred signing the free trade agreement (FTA) between Asean and South Korea as rice is not on the list of items.
Thai minister of commerce Somkid Jatusripitak said the country decided to defer the signing to between three and six months to discuss the issue.
“Once you take rice out of the list, I think both Thailand and Korea have to take some time to find the solution that we can agree on,” he told reporters yesterday after attending the signing ceremony.
The agreements signed yesterday were on trade in goods under the comprehensive economic cooperation between Asean and Korea and on a dispute settlement mechanism.
Heads of state and government will sign the Asean-Korea framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation.
Thailand, one of the world’s largest exporters of rice, had this week voiced reservations over signing the FTA between Asean and South Korea if it did not include rice.
South Korea, which also produces rice, had put the product on its sensitive list, meaning that Thailand would not be able to freely export rice there.
“I would like to reaffirm that Thailand is committed to and supports the FTA between Korea and Asean. But rice is a very important issue for Thailand because more than 70% of the people are farmers,” added Somkid.
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