Thai Government claims GSP move by US unrelated to chemicals ban

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha became aware of the US plan to suspend US$D1.3 billion in trade preferences for Thailand, under the Generalized System of Preferences program, about a month ago and says the US action is not related to Thailand’s banning of paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos, announced by the National Hazardous Substances Committee on October 22nd.

Government spokeswoman Mrs. Narumon Pinyosinwat said today (Sunday) that the US secretary of commerce had raised the GSP issue when he attended a recent meeting of ASEAN economic ministers, adding that Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit will hold a press conference to explain the issue.

She maintained that the US decision was unrelated to the ban on the farm chemicals.

Pheu Thai deputy spokesperson Sunisa Thivakorndamrong, however, blamed the Government for its failure to protect labour rights to the standards set by the International Labour Organization.  She also accused the Government of not disclosing the truth about the issue.

Sunisa said other countries have also had their trade preferences suspended by the United States, including India, which used to enjoy extensive trade preferences with the US.

She explained that the suspension of GSP for US imports of Thai products does not mean that the products cannot be exported to the US market, but they will face higher taxes and be less competitive.

She noted, nonetheless, that the value of the Thai exports affected by the trade measure, estimated at 40 billion baht, was minimal compared to the 378 billion baht in trade surplus that Thailand has enjoyed with the US.

Sunisa assured that the Government can still negotiate with the US to settle the problem without affecting the good relations between the two countries.


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