Thailand ready to answer Trump probe

Thailand ready to answer Trump probe

Thailand is ready to submit details on factors causing its trade surplus with the US, as requested by an executive order from the White House.

Commerce permanent secretary Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa, who met members of the public and private sectors yesterday to prepare Thailand's submission to the US government, said the country will meet the May 10 deadline and participate in the public hearing the US will hold on May 18.

The US executive order, issued on March 31, called for an omnibus report on significant trade deficits.

Ms Wiboonlasana said the submission will emphasise the long-standing relationship between the US and Thailand, as underlined by the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations signed by the two countries in 1966. The report will also touch upon recent developments in Thailand's legal and regulatory reforms, measures to increase the ease of doing business and efforts to step up labour and intellectual property protection.

She said the report would give the US a better understanding of the bilateral trade balance and how it had occurred naturally, in line with global trading rules.

Ms Wiboonlasana said the paper, once finished, will be proposed to the international trade policy committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on May 8 for vetting before being submitted to the cabinet for approval.

"Although Thailand is not one of the top countries with which the US has been suffering from a hefty trade deficit, related agencies have not been idle, having alerted the private sector to stay alert, provide information and step up their business adjustments," she said.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office of the Ministry of Commerce, which is coordinating preparations for the report, said the submission will not be the same as the National Trade Estimates the US government issues annually, but added there are many overlapping elements that can be used.

The US is Thailand's third-largest trading partner, after China and Japan. Two-way trade between Thailand and US amounted to US$36.5 billion in 2016.

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