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Comments on Recent Thai-US Trade Negotiations

Transcript of the above video:

As the title to this video suggests, we are commenting on recent developments with respect to Thai-US trade negotiations. Negotiations might be too strong a word; just trade talks, just generally.

In a recent article in the Bangkok Post, posted April 17th, 2018, it is on bangkokpost.com,  the headline is "Thais try to Coax US into Giving Privileges”:  Quoting directly, “Thailand has requested a number of trade privileges aimed at helping Thai exporters compete in  both US and global markets”,  the Commerce Ministry revealed Monday. The privileges were requested at last week's Thailand-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, acronym TIFA, meeting in Washington DC. Quoting further "At the same meeting, Thai negotiators were told that Thailand wasn't on a list of nations facing a review of their custom status privileges granted under the US generalized system of preferences program, a system of trade preferences. The main factor saving Thailand from a GSP review was the country demonstrating an improvement in protecting intellectual property and labor rights", said the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce. Quoting further "more good news was that Thailand wasn't among six countries on the US Department of Treasury’s watch list of nations using Foreign Exchange Market to intervene and distort trade flows.” First and foremost, that last sentence, in my opinion, was probably the most important thing I read today. The United States clearly does not view Thailand as operating as some kind of currency manipulator. 

Based on recent numbers that were put out by the Trump Administration, sort of in connection with the so-called trade war and the tariff back and forth between the US and China, it would have appeared that Thailand might have fallen in to some of the criteria that would have maybe had them sort of labeled as a currency manipulator and in the current administration of the United States that would have been very, very bad. It is interesting, and I strongly urge those who are viewing this to go and read this article and its entirety. I am not going to quote anything further. I do find it interesting that yet again the Thai-US relationship seems strong as ever. I have lived in Thailand for 10 years, I have dealt with things especially legal matters pertaining to the US Thai Treaty of Amity, I myself have dealt within companies under the treaty and I can say that there does seem to be a deep-seated commitment to bilateral commercial relations between Thailand and the United States. As sort of a lay person myself, I am not an expert in these issues, this is just sort of an outsider's perspective, Thailand and the United States seemed to have always maintained cordial trade relations. Also noted in this article, they go into some depths about how Thailand was seeking certain privileges with respect to aluminum as there are some new tariffs in the United States with respect to aluminum.

That being said, to me that was not the important thing to take away from this article, most important was, Thailand is not considered a currency manipulator by US authorities at least for now, and it seems clear to me that there is a continued mutual respect and a continued desire to maintain a mutually beneficial trade relationship and notwithstanding maybe a few quirks with respect to certain aspects of domestic policy on trade, I don't see that changing anytime in the near future.