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Trade Negotiations Raise Concerns Among NGOs About Implications For Thailand’s Public Health Policies

“The negotiations launched this week for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and the European Union have raised concerns among both Thai and European non-governmental organizations [NGOs], who fear that E.U. demands could have a negative impact on Thailand’s progressive public health policies,” Inter Press Service reports. “Launched during Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s visit to Brussels on March 6, the negotiations will include the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, an international accord that lays down rules for dealing with intellectual property such as branded medicine,” IPS writes.

“Thailand has gained international admiration for its public health program which is based on providing inexpensive medicine to its population, says Oxfam,” IPS notes, adding, “But activists say that these advances could be rolled back by the Free Trade Agreement, particularly if the E.U. introduces ‘investor-state dispute provisions’ in the FTA.” The news service examines the potential implications of the regulations, quoting a number of experts, and writes, “Like the NGOs, some members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are keeping a close eye on the negotiations and the aspects of the FTA that could have a harmful impact” (McKenzie, 3/12).