BANGKOK: Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai has instructed the Customs Department to come up with measures to stem the influx of cheap trousers with traditional Thai cat and elephant patterns.
The cat and elephant patterns are part of the government’s “Thai soft power” campaign.
Phumtham, who also holds the post of deputy PM, said the copied versions of the cat and elephant trousers from China did not sport the exact copyrighted pattern and were of far inferior quality.
“So, I have to find out how the copyright law can be used to protect the original products from these low-quality products from China,” the minister said.
Elephant trousers, also known as Thai fisherman or Aladdin pants, are a popular souvenir from Thailand.
The most common design features elephants, reflecting the significance of these majestic creatures in Thai culture.
The elephant trousers, mostly manufactured in Chiang Mai, have a wide leg and relaxed silhouette, making them comfortable in the hot weather and thus popular among foreigners.
Phumtham said the elephant and cat trousers had been copyrighted in Thailand and the Commerce Ministry only learned about the Chinese copies when reporters raised it with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin in a recent interview.
He said he has instructed the Intellectual Property Department to find out how widely available the fake trousers are in Thailand and has instructed the Customs Department to monitor China imports.
“But these measures will have to ensure there is no impact on Thai products,” Phumtham said.
He added that he has also instructed the Department of International Trade Promotions to coordinate with local manufacturers to consider adding “Made in Thailand” stamps or logos.
It has been reported that cheap elephant trousers from China are freely available at Bangkok’s Bobae wholesale market and in retail stalls in the Pratunam area.
The price tag on these trousers is about half that of the real thing.
Kingkarn Samorn, who works at an elephant trouser factory in Chiang Mai, said she was not worried about the fake Chinese products, because her factory produces far better quality.
Also, she said, the trousers were available in more than 10 designs with over 200 patterns.