Thai-Japan free trade pact allows dumping of toxic waste to the Kingdom

Press release - December 1, 2006
Greenpeace and FTA Watch today condemned the impending Thai-Japan free trade pact for including provisions that would allow Japan to dump its toxic waste and hazardous chemicals into the Kingdom. The Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) blatantly seeks to allow ash from municipal incinerators, waste products from chemical industry, municipal waste and sewage sludge, among others, to be exported by Japan to Thailand.

"This attempt to legalize the dumping of Japan's toxic waste into Thailand is nothing short of criminal. Japan is unashamedly forcing developing countries like Thailand to become its dumping ground through this free trade agreement," said Kittikhun Kittiaram of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The secrecy surrounding the final text of JTEPA was also condemned by the groups.

"The full text of JTEPA must be disclosed publicly. There's no transparency at all in the formulation of this free trade agreement. Thai negotiators claim that the full JTEPA draft has been sent to the House of Representatives and the Parliament for consideration on June 2, 2006, but how was that possible when during that time the parliament had already been dissolved by Thaksin?" said Buntoon Srethasirote, an independent researcher at FTA Watch and Director of the Strategic Policy on Natural Resources Base Project of the National Human Rights Commission.

"JTEPA also lacks assessments for social and environmental impacts which may result from the free trade pact. The decision whether to ratify the pact should not lie on members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). We should wait until we have democratically elected representatives," he added.

A document from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that the final draft of JTEPA will be proposed to the cabinet in December, to be followed by a public hearing on December 22. The draft will then be sent to the NLA for approval in January 2007.

Japan and Thailand are both signatories to the Basel Convention, a legally-binding global commitment to stop the export of hazardous waste from industrialized countries to developing countries.  Both countries, however, failed to ratify the Basel Ban, an amendment to the Basel Convention which forbids even trade of hazardous waste disguised as recycling.

Several weeks ago, the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement sparked heavy protests in Manila after it was uncovered that the agreement would allow an unprecedented list of hazardous waste into the Philippines. The country has not ratified the Basel Ban either.

"Japan's stance in this issue is predatory and is an assault on the Thai people and the environment. Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia must therefore ratify the Basel Ban to protect themselves from the flood of hazardous waste that may be slipped into provisions of trade agreements or under the guise of recycling," said Kittikhun.

Other contacts: Buntoon Srethasirote, Independent Researcher, FTA-Watch, +668 1565 7581