Thai PM to join G20 Osaka summit as ASEAN chair

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is leaving for Osaka on Thursday to attend the G20 summit which has become a highly-anticipated event this week in the wake of the lingering trade war between Beijing and Washington.

For Thailand, the G20 summit this year provides an opportunity for Gen Prayut to update the other leaders about the latest developments of the 34th ASEAN summit in Bangkok last weekend as he will be attending the G20 summit in his capacity as the ASEAN Chair.

Among other issues, Thailand is expected to discuss with other leaders about the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement between 10 ASEAN nations and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. At the meeting in Bangkok, ASEAN leaders set an ambitious plan to wrap up the RCEP talks by the end of this year.

Officials said the Thai PM has prepared to use this opportunity to discuss the multilateral trading system with potential RCEP members on the corridor of the G20 summit.

Gen Prayut is also scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on June 28.

The Osaka summit is Gen Prayut’s second G20 meeting. In 2016, he attended the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, in his capacity as the Chair of G77.

Moreover, the Thai premier has prepared remarks on sustainable development by highlighting the ASEAN effort in combating the marine debris as part of the global campaign to ensure economic sustainability.

The G20 economies account for around 90 percent of the gross world product and 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the world population.

From June 28th-29th, the G20 leaders will be discussing issues crucial to the global economy and financial system such as challenges of the digital economy with the emergence of new crypto-assets and the distribution of economic wealth by promoting inclusive economic system.

At the same time, leaders will discuss the issues related to global environment, energy and the climate change which are the global concerns.

The timing of G20 this year is crucial as it will provide a forum for US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sort out their trade frictions which have already dampened the global trade scene and taken a toll on Thai exports.

Economists forecast that Thai export growth this year may fall flat because many Thai items which are part of the Chinese supply chains are hit by the US punitive tariffs against Chinese goods.

President Trump has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on USD250 billion in Chinese imports and threatened to impose tariffs on a further USD325 billion worth of Chinese goods later this year. China has retaliated by raising tariffs on the US imports.

This is despite calls from the business sector and the rest of the world for both sides to settle their trade differences. Otherwise, their political skirmish can hurt the global GDP.



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