Who is she?
Apiradi Tantraporn has been Thailand’s minister of commerce since August 2015, when she was promoted as part of a larger cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha. Her appointment was part of the creation of an economic “dream team” led by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak meant to boost the Thai economy.
The Wall Street Journal called her ASEAN’s most experienced trade diplomat. Her previous positions include deputy minister of commerce and director general of the Department of Foreign Trade. She was also an ambassador to the World Trade Organization. She served as the senior economic officer in ASEAN’s economic ministers meeting and in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. She holds a master’s degree in business administration from Thammasat University and a master’s degree in international trade from Syracuse University.
Why is she in the news?
The Bangkok Post reported on June 1 that Apiradi was recently tasked by Somkid to lead Thailand’s preparation and evaluation committee exploring whether Thailand should join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As part of this process, Apiradi directed a report looking at the impact of joining the trade agreement.
What can we expect from her?
Apiradi has said that Thailand will need to improve its competitiveness before joining the TPP. The kingdom will have to implement economic and customs reforms before being admitted into the TPP. Private, civil, and academic sectors are calling for the Thai government to disclose the results of the report on the expected impact of joining the TPP. Farmers, fearing that they won’t be able to compete with cheaper overseas products, have also threatened to protest if Thailand joins the agreement.
Apiradi is expected to work to make Thailand’s economic sectors more competitive to offset any disadvantages of joining the trade agreements. To this end, the Commerce Ministry has held 15 meetings with the agriculture industry and civic groups to discuss the impact of the TPP. At the same time, Prayut and Somkid recently announced that Thailand is “ready” to join the TPP. As a result, Apiradi’s duties will likely be focused on implementing reforms and preparing Thailand for joining the TPP