Asian trade barriers in air

The Asian financial crisis could result in the raising of trade barriers in the region, warned Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, deputy prime minister of Thailand, the first Asian country to be hit by the economic turmoil. He also warned that the crisis could soon spread to China. The comments were made last week at a meeting […]

The Asian financial crisis could result in the raising of trade barriers in the region, warned Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, deputy prime minister of Thailand, the first Asian country to be hit by the economic turmoil. He also warned that the crisis could soon spread to China.

The comments were made last week at a meeting of European and Asian business representatives. Panitchpakdi warned that the rise of nationalism across Asian nations would make it more difficult for them to continue the process of market liberalisation and reducing trade barriers.

Panitchpakdi said: ‘Our alien business laws are being changed. Come July, our new foreign investment law will probably come up for final approval.’ This law looks likely to remove many barriers to foreign investment.

‘But getting this law passed will not be easy because much nationalistic feeling has now been aroused. We need to deal with this as will the other Asian countries.’

Panitchpakdi also warned that the financial crisis could spread to China if that country does not put into place the necessary changes to its financial and business structures.

The comments came in a week in which fears that Japan could plunge even further into recession were voiced by the chairman and chief executive of Sony, Norio Ohga. Any further fall in the health of the Japanese economy could hit investments in the UK.

News analysis page 12