US open to talk with Thailand over GSP cuts
The United States is willing to talk with Thailand over its move to suspend benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for Thailand, including those for seafood, before the measure takes effect next year, the Bangkok Post reported Monday, 4 November, quoting Thai government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha discussed the issue with U.S Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who is in a working tour in Southeast Asia, in a meeting over the weekend.
Prayut expressed hope that the U.S. will reconsider the decision before it becomes effective, given the fact that Thailand is its long-standing ally. The U.S. secretary said the U.S. is open to further talks on the issue, according to Narumon.
The U.S. Trade Representative announced on 25 October that U.S. President Donald J. Trump is suspending USD 1.3 billion (EUR 1.17 billion) in trade preferences for Thailand under the GSP, as the Southeast Asian nation has failed to adequately protect workers’ rights. The removal of GSP status for Thai seafood products will become effective on 25 April, 2020.
Ross said the suspension is “not a big deal” as it represents only USD 1.3 billion (EUR 1.17 billion) of Thailand’s USD 4.4-billion (EUR 3.94 billion) exports under the GSP to the U.S. and is a small fraction of total Thai exports, The Nation reported on Monday.
The seafood products to be removed from GSP eligibility for Thailand included sole, jack and horse mackerel, hake, Alaskan pollock, blue whiting, tilapia, catfish, sea bream, carp, seabass, and crabmeat, among others, a list provided by the USTR showed. The list contains products for which the U.S. is a relatively important market for Thailand. However, Thailand accounts for a relatively small share of U.S. imports.
Representatives of Thailand’s seafood industry were still gauging the impact of the U.S. move toward seafood products from the Southeast Asian nation.
In a company statement released 27 October, Thai Union said its business will not be impacted by the decision.
Photo courtesy of Narumon Pinyosinwat/Twitter/REUTERS