Thailand wants to join CPTPP trade pact this year: deputy PM

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak speaks during a seminar on fintech in Bangkok, Thailand, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand aims to seek membership in a landmark Asia-Pacific trade agreement this year, a deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

The government has asked the commerce ministry to look into the details on how to join the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“This is an important issue,” Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak told reporters. “If there is no problem, we will join it this year.”

Thailand will also seek support from Japan on the matter, Somkid said. He did not elaborate.

Membership could be a boon for Thailand as competition heats up in electronics, seafood and agriculture from rival export and manufacturing economies, such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

Eleven countries including Japan and Canada singed the CPTPP deal earlier this month without the United States.

The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo early last year when President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal. He said the move was aimed at protecting U.S. jobs.

Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Kim Coghill