Wed, May 18, 2022


Thailand risks US trade hurdles under Biden over rights abuses, academic warns 

Former Rangsit University dean of the economic faculty, Anusorn Tamajai, has warned the Thai government to prepare for a new US trade policy under President Joe Biden who will take office next month.

His comments came after a group of nine US senators introduced a resolution to support the pro-democracy movement in Thailand and called on the Thai government to listen to the people's demands and end crackdown on protesters who assemble peacefully.

Thai-American senator Tammy Duckworth was among the nine members of Congress who introduced the resolution. Another was Senator Bob Menendez, who has played a key role in proposing US trade sanctions against Latin American countries accused of violating human rights and freedom of the press.

Thai police have so far filed lese-majeste charges against 17 protest leaders, but the draconian law has been viewed by rights groups as a major source of human rights abuse in Thailand as it imposes a jail term of up to 15 years for those convicted of insulting the Thai monarch. 

The government had not used the lese majeste law in the past two years, but PM Prayut Chan-o-cha recently gave police the green light to resume enforcement of this tough law.

Anusorn said the Biden administration was expected to focus more on human rights and labour rights in dealing with trading partners, such as Thailand.

Biden is expected to introduce a rule-based system to replace Trump’s deal-based system, he said.

The new US administration is also expected to reintroduce non-discrimination and national treatment for international trade policy.

The US Trade Representative Office also is expected to use non-tariff barriers against China and other Asian countries, he said. 

President Trump has imposed high tariff rates against China and other countries and he has been dubbed "Tariff Man".

Although the trade war may ease under a Biden administration, it would not completely go away as US wants  to curb  China's global influence,  Anusorn predicted.

He also forecast the introduction next year of Diem, formerly known as Libra, which is a permissioned blockchain-based payment system proposed by the American social media company, Facebook. The payment system will include cryptocurrency whose value will be tied to the US dollar. This so-called stable coin will have a significant impact on the global financial markets where central banks play a key role, although it will have limited use. The coin is said to be used as a substitute for the US dollar and euro currency with limited scope for financial transactions. The digital currencies will have an adverse impact on the role of central banks globally, Anusorn added.

Published : December 06, 2020

By : The Nation