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TJ KB AU: Mahathir Terpesek Oleh Dagangan Thailand
By Robert Garran
7/4/2001 2:52 pm Sat
DAGANGAN AGRESIF THAILAND MEMESEK MAHATHIR
Thailand sedang mengikat beberapa perjanjian dagangan strategik
dengan Australia dan jika ini lancar dan jaya, akan terpereseklah
Mahathir malu kerana beliau berusaha keras batu mahu menyisih
Australia dari rantau ini. AFTA yang diusahakannya masih buntu
kerana ego beliau yang tingginya tentu.
Setengah analis berpendapat Malaysia mungkin menjalin pakatan dagang
yang serupa tetapi sikap Mahathir yang jelek terhadap barat dan cara
beliau menangani AFTA menyukarkan itu berlaku.
Terdapat kebimbangan negara rantau Asia akan dihempap teruk oleh
kemelesetan ekonomi Amerika kerana terlalu bergantung kepada ekspot
ke sana. Tanpa pakatan strategik banyak kilang di Malaysia akan
gulung tikar dan ribuan pekerja akan terdampar.
Singapura telah lama mengadakan pakatan dagang untuk melindungi
ekonominya. Ia telah menjalin ikatan dengan New Zealand dan sedang
dalam proses untuk berunding dengan Australia, Jepun dan Mexico.
Ringkasnya, sikap Mahathir kini sedang menjerut dirinya sendiri.
Dia terlalu celupar menutuk negara luar sehingga lupa dia mungkin
memerlukan mereka satu masa nanti untuk membaiki ekonomi. Soalnya,
sanggupkah beliau menjilat ludahnya sendiri bila sudah terdesak
-TJr Kapal Berita-
Thai trade push snubs Mahathir
By Robert Garran, Foreign affairs writer
A LANDMARK trade deal with Thailand could spark a chain reaction
throughout South-East Asia and circumvent Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad's campaign to keep Australia out.
Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai raised the idea of a trade
agreement with Australian counterpart Alexander Downer last week in
Chile, where both were attending the first Forum for East Asia Latin
The deal, if achieved, will embarrass Dr Mahathir, who has pushed hard
for a South-East Asian trade bloc that excludes Australia.
It is hoped the talks can be launched in June at a meeting of Australian
and Thai ministers in Canberra or at a meeting of Asia-Pacific trade
ministers in Shanghai, a senior government source said.
Some analysts believe the move could force Malaysia into similar pacts.
But others argue Malaysia's stance against trade deals with the West and
its inconsistent approach to the South-East Asian plan will make it
politically impossible to strike such deals.
A trade pact between Australia and Thailand would bring a boost to trade
between the two countries, which last financial year ran to $4.9 billion.
A trade pact between Australia and Thailand would bring a boost to trade between the two countries, which last financial year ran to $4.9 billion.
And it could hasten the pace of bilateral trade deals in South-East Asia,
whose own plans for a free-trade zone, pushed hard by Dr Mahathir,
"If key countries have free trade agreements, others will have little choice
but to come on board, because they will lose trade over it (if they don't),"
said the senior source.
There are fears South-East Asian economies will be hit hard by the
expected slowdown in exports to the US.
Along with the uncertain prospects for a new round of world trade talks in
Doha in the Middle Eastern emirate of Qatar in November, this has raised
the incentive to strike bilateral deals.
Singapore has led the charge in South-East Asia. It has struck a deal
with New Zealand and is pushing for pacts with Australia, Japan and
John Howard hopes to begin talks later this year for a trade pact with the
However, there are growing fears the Australia-US plan could be
thwarted if Congress fails to give the new Bush administration the trade
promotion authority it needs for effective negotiations.
Mr Downer discussed the Australia-US plan in talks in Washington last
week and Trade Minister Mark Vaile is in the US capital this week to
continue the push.
But US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick told Mr Downer his first priority
would be to win trade promotion authority in Congress - freeing the
administration to negotiate trade deals without having to seek approval for
This could take many months, making the announcement of US-Australia
talks during Mr Howard's mid-year visit unlikely.
There are big hurdles on both sides to striking an Australia-Thailand deal.
Thailand will have to consider cuts to its heavily protected farm sector
and Australia must contemplate changes to its restrictive quarantine laws
for food imports and reductions in tariffs on motor vehicles.
Australia's main exports to Thailand are aluminium, cotton, gold, milk and
cream and petroleum, with a total merchandise trade last financial year of
Thai exports to Australia last year stood at $2.4 billion and included
trucks, heating and cooling equipment, seafood and computers.