Thailand renews TIFA talks with the U.S.
Mrs. Apiradi Tantraporn, Minister of Commerce of Thailand led the Thai delegation comprised of representatives from various agencies such as Department Trade Negotiations, Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Labor, Department of Customs, Bank of Thailand, Food and Drug Administration, and Royal Thai Embassy.
Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the U.S. and Thailand (TIFA) Joint Council Ministerial Meeting Meeting was held on April 20, 2016 to revive talks on trade and investment cooperation with the US after the last meeting 13 years ago. It was followed by Senior Officials meeting on the same day.
Commerce Minister Apiradi and Ambassador Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative, emphasized the importance of trade relations between Thailand and the United States. Both sides discussed on economic cooperation and eliminating trade and investment barriers bilaterally and regionally including issues such as agriculture, GSP, labor, customs, etc.
The US is the third-largest trading partner with Thailand, with bilateral trade amounting to US$38 billion in 2015. Exports amounted to $24 billion, with imports making up the rest. The Thai government set a target to boost shipments to the US by at least 3% this year.
The Minister reiterated economic policies to improve laws and regulations for Thailand to be more competitive in global market such as digital economy, special economic zones, and super clusters. The Thai Government is trying to create an environment that is suitable for investment and give high priority to good governance. In only one plus year, the Government able to issued almost 160 regulations to upgrade the country to comply with international standards. The New constitution has been finalized and the referendum will be held on August 7 this year in order to hold an election in July 2017.
Ambassador Pisan Manawapat emphasized that Thailand gives an importance to labor issues. Combating Human Trafficking, Forced Labor and Child Labor, and IUU fishing are one of National Agenda to improve quality of life and to protect welfare of workers. The Royal Thai Embassy has been in close and continuing contact with U.S. agencies concerned to update the development and accomplishments from the Thai side. Moreover, Thailand is having cooperations with ILO and EU to combat these issues.
During the visit, the Thai delegation also discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with US authorities before the Thai government decides whether to join the pact. The International Economic Policy Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is scheduled to meet on April 29 to discuss the pact, and government sources have indicated it is highly likely Thailand will join.