By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
The USTR is slated to begin a special investigation into Thailand’s reported use of forced labour in January. The USTR may cut tariff privileges for Thailand, after recently extending the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for the Kingdom to more than 3,000 items.
In response to a claim by the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations, Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maesincee said yesterday that Thailand would prove to the US that the government and the private sector had stringently taken action against the practice of forced and illegal labour.
He said the US should have observed the country’s serious attempt to solve the problem.
The USTR’s special investigation is expected take up to three years.
The Labour Ministry will submit a report to the USTR on the actions taken to tackle the problem.
Economy getting stronger
Suvit said trade between Thailand and the US should not be affected as Thai and American traders normally had a close cooperation in terms of inspecting one another’s operations. With the US economy getting stronger, Thai shipments to that country should increase gradually next year, he said.
Asked about the chances of Thailand joining the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership, Suvit said the Commerce Ministry was gathering information on the matter that would be proposed at the international trade committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha next Friday.
The US is Thailand’s second-largest export market after Asean. The value of Thai shipments to the US expanded 2.3 per cent year on year in the first 10 months to US$20.2 billion (Bt722 billion).
In July, Washington agreed to offer tax privileges for 3,400 Thai items for four years and five months.
Thailand is second after India in terms of benefiting the most from the United States’ GSP scheme. Thailand exports to the US under the GSP were worth $3.48 billion last year, or 18.67 per cent of the total privileges that Thailand got from the US.