US-Thai strategic panel on the table

US-Thai strategic panel on the table

'Mechanism' to drive bilateral cooperation

Somkid: Played host for Wilbur Ross visit
Somkid: Played host for Wilbur Ross visit

Thailand is proposing the establishment of a US-Thai strategic partnership committee to boost trade and investment and underline cooperation on technology and education.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak met US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross yesterday to discuss details of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's official visit to the US on Oct 2.

Mr Somkid said setting up the committee could lead to constructive cooperation on trade, investment, science, technology and education.

"I've proposed a new key mechanism to drive bilateral cooperation between Thailand and the US," he said. "It will enable constructive cooperation apart from the existing US-Asean Business Council."

Mr Somkid told Mr Ross that the government led by Gen Prayut has enacted myriad social and economic reforms, but it was unfortunate that Thailand's relationship with the US encountered some hiccups the past three years.

"Gen Prayut's visit will be a good opportunity to set a new framework for cooperation between the two countries in the future," he said.

GE and other US companies have expressed interest in investing in Thailand, and the country is keen to attract US firms involved with electric locomotives and aviation, Mr Somkid said.

Thailand also wants US carmakers like Ford to make electric cars here, he said.

The US itinerary has Mr Somkid scheduled to meet representatives of three or four big US companies, but he declined to name them.

Thailand and the US have strong trade ties dating back to the 1833 US-Thailand Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations.

The two countries meet regularly under the auspices of the 2002 bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to discuss ways to expand trade and address outstanding issues, including those related to intellectual property, customs and agriculture.

The US and Thailand launched free-trade negotiations in 2004, but the US suspended them in 2006 after the dissolution of parliament and the subsequent military-led coup.

The US is Thailand's third-largest trade partner, after China and Japan, with two-way goods trade between the pair totalling US$37 billion (1.24 trillion baht) in 2016, $24.5 billion of which consisted of exports from Thailand.

The main exports were computers and components, rubber products, jewellery and ornaments, TV and components, cars and parts, garments and canned food.

Board of Investment statistics show that US investment in Thailand ranks third after Japan and Singapore, with 32.2 billion baht worth of accumulated investment.

Thai visitors to the US numbered 600,000 in 2016, while US visitors to Thailand reached 974,635.

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