Productive meetings . . .
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who is on a weeklong tour in Southeast Asia, has promised his Thai counterpart, Don Pramudwinai, that Japan will help Thailand join the CPTPP. In a separate meeting between Motegi and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the latter promised that Japan would be the first to know when Thailand finalizes its application to join the CPTPP.
Enhanced international support . . .
In addition to Japan, the key driver behind the mega deal following the U.S.’s withdrawal, other countries and organizations have also expressed support for Thailand’s entry into the CPTPP trade bloc. Last summer, the US-ASEAN Business Council expressed its support, as both existing and prospective U.S. investors in Thailand are seeking to avoid high export tariffs.
Stability and legitimacy . . .
Japan’s pledge of support is a win for Thailand, which declared its interest in joining the CPTPP in March 2018, when the deal was signed, adding that it would seek Japan’s support. The Thai government had hoped to speed up its entry into the CPTPP, but political uncertainty at home – including the first elections since a 2014 coup – led to a postponement last March. Holding the election has since given Thailand’s accession to the CPTPP both domestic support and international legitimacy. Renewed political stability has also strengthened the confidence of international investors in Thailand, prompting them to advocate for Thailand’s entry into the bloc. Last August, the Canadian government held public consultations regarding the possible entry of Thailand and other countries to the CPTPP, raising the possibility that Canada might also publicly extend its support to Thailand.