Tue, Oct 29, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Thailand not worried about losing US benefits

FORWARD PLANNING:The Department of Foreign Trade’s acting director-general said that the US’ trade program is not permanent, so exporters should be trying to diversify

Bloomberg

Thai Department of Foreign Trade Acting Director-General Keerati Rushchano speaks during a press conference at the Thai Department of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, in Nonthaburi Province on the outskirts of Bangkok yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Export-reliant Thailand said that US President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend some US trade benefits would affect only a small proportion of its shipments.

The effect is expected to be limited and would cut the annual export value by at most US$32.8 million next year, the Thai Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Sunday.

With shipments worth US$31.9 billion last year, the US is Thailand’s second-largest export market, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The US on Friday said it would suspend US$1.3 billion of benefits under the generalized system of preferences, and that Thai seafood products would be removed from the program.

The steps were triggered by concerns about workers’ rights, it said.

Thai exports have struggled this year because of the strength of its currency and fallout from the US-China trade dispute. The nation is on course for the slowest economic expansion in five years.

The generalized system of preferences provides preferential duty-free treatment for thousands of products to bolster the economies of developing nations, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Thailand yesterday said that it would seek talks with the US to regain the scrapped benefits.

“GSP is a one-sided grant,” Thai Department of Foreign Trade Acting Director-General Keerati Rushchano said in a briefing, referring to the generalized system of preferences.

“It will go away one day, so exporters need to adjust themselves and find new markets to diversify the risk,” he said.

Washington said the suspension on Thai goods would take effect in six months and focus on products for which the US is a relatively important market for the Southeast Asian nation, but where Thailand accounts for a relatively small share of US imports.

The eligibility of all Thai seafood products for the program would also be revoked due to “longstanding worker rights issues in the seafood and shipping industries,” the office said.

Trade under the generalized system of preferences between Thailand and the US totaled US$4.4 billion last year, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Separately, tourist arrivals in Thailand rose 10.11 percent last month from a year earlier, after an increase of 7.35 percent in August, the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports said in a statement.

Last month, 2.9 million tourists spent 139.6 billion baht (US$4.62 billion), up 8.73 percent from a year earlier, the tourism ministry said.

Visitors from China, Thailand’s biggest source of tourists, totaled 852,130, up 31.56 percent from a year earlier, it said.

In the January-to-September period, overall tourist arrivals totaled 29.47 million, up 3.5 percent from a year earlier, it said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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