Thailand will likely decide whether to join a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership around April, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Monday.
Nishimura, the government’s point man on the TPP, told reporters after meeting with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak in Tokyo that he hopes the current members of the free trade pact will decide to start accession talks with Thailand at a ministerial meeting this summer.
Cabinet ministers from the TPP economies are expected to gather in Mexico around August, according to officials.
The pact, formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, entered into force in December 2018 with 11 members after the United States withdrew in January 2017.
Seven members — Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam — have ratified the pact. Chile, Peru, Brunei and Malaysia have yet to do so.
“It’s preferable that we can start negotiations with Thailand after (the TPP) is ratified by as many countries as possible,” Nishimura said, noting that Chile and Peru may soon finish their domestic procedures.
Japanese manufacturers such as auto parts makers have production bases in Thailand, a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Britain, which left the European Union on Jan. 31, is also eyeing joining the CPTPP. The move is backed by Japan, which has signed a free trade agreement with the European Union and a bilateral pact with the United States.