PM Prayut, economic ministers discuss US trade preferences

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BANGKOK – Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has called an urgent meeting with economic ministers on ways to deal with the United States administration’s decision to suspend trade preferences for Thailand under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), while claiming that all problems have solutions and can be solved.

The Prime Minister chaired the meeting of the economic ministers before attending the weekly cabinet meeting at Government House. The Prime Minister yesterday instructed relevant agencies to seek measures to address the GSP issue.

Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minster, Jurin Laksanawisit, made known at the meeting that Thailand will be able to export its products to the US but it will face import tariffs of 1.5 billion to 1.8 billion baht annually, with the GSP to be revoked in April next year. The US still has time to revise its decision. The government also assigned the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington and its labor attache to discuss the matter with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

The meeting of economic ministers today instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Commerce to seek ways to urge the US to revise its decision.

Speaking of long term measures, the Ministry of Commerce has made preparations in advance according to the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking’s mechanisms. Thailand will expand into other foreign markets in an attempt to increase the value of its exports. The government will work with the private sector to export more products to the US, China, India, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Germany and the United Kingdom (UK) as well as countries in South Asia, the Middle East and the European Union (EU). The government will study the demands of each city or state of nations with large populations, such as India, China and the US.

The Commerce Minister said today the government will try to explain to the US what Thailand can or cannot do. The Ministry of Labor will clarify the issue of allowing foreign workers to set up labour unions in Thailand, while other issues will be clarified by their respective ministries.

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