Thailand will look to participate in a framework under the World Trade Organisation that commits members to transparency in government procurement, Kittiratt Na-Ranong, the finance minister and deputy prime minister, said on Thursday.
Kittiratt, speaking at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, said Thailand “would commit to join” the next discussions for the WTO government Procurement Agreement.
In March, 41 countries, including the US, members of the European Union, Hong Kong and Japan, adopted the government Procurement Agreement, a set of legally binding commitments toward non-discrimination and transparency in the procurement of products and services by government. The agreement also outlines tender procedures to ensure equal opportunity to foreign and domestic suppliers for contracts.
Kittiratt said the Thai government was committed to fighting corruption, pointing to prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s recent declaration of a “war against corruption” in collaboration with the private sector.
He said democracy was an important force to help combat corruption. “Voters hate corruption,” Kittiratt told attendees.
Professor Eswar Prasad of Cornell University said corruption and inequality were two factors that would continue to challenge and undermine competitiveness in Asian developing economies.
“Both [corruption and inequality] undermine other reforms, and give the perception that benefits of [liberalisation] only go to an elite,” he said.
He said regional integration within Asean and Asia would benefit each country, not because of increased access to capital but rather by helping strengthen the fundamentals of each economy through capital market development, improved governance and institutional reform.
“It’s not the capital, but what comes with the capital that is the benefit,” Prasad said.