Thailand in crosshairs of Trump’s trade policy
By News Desk
01 April 2017

BANGKOK (The Nation/ ANN) - US President seeks review of huge deficits with 16 countries.

Thailand will be among 16 countries to be targeted by the Donald Trump administration in its attempt to narrow the United States’ massive trade imbalances.

US President Trump has signed two executive orders directing his administration to review the country’s trade deficits and clamp down on countries that abuse trade rules. He said the new executive orders signed on Friday (yesterday Thailand time) would start a new chapter for American workers and businesses.

“I’m signing two executive orders that send this message loud and clear. And that set the stage for a great revival of American manufacturing,” Trump said at his office in the White House. 

In Washington DC, the US leader largely blamed “unscrupulous foreign powers” for his country’s trade imbalance. He said those countries were aided by US special interests that have helped push through bad trade deals.

He promised to crack down on “foreign importers that cheat”, saying that the new executive orders would lead to a historic reversal of the nation’s trade deficit.

“They’re cheaters! From now on, those who break the rules will face the consequences and they’ll be very severe consequences,” Trump was quoted as saying by USA Today. One of the two executive orders requires a report on the reasons for the trade imbalance within 90 days. That report will focus on 16 countries with which the US had a significant trade deficit in goods last year – China, Japan, Germany, Mexico, Ireland, Vietnam, Italy, South Korea, Malaysia, India, Thailand, France, Switzerland, Taiwan, Indonesia and Canada – according to the newspaper.

The US Commerce Department and the US trade representative will be required to conduct a 90-day review of the causes of the massive US trade deficits. The study will be on the effects of abuses such as dumping of products below cost, unfair subsidies, “misaligned” currencies and “non-reciprocal” trade practices by other countries. 

“We’re going to investigate all trade abuses, and, based on those findings, we will take necessary and lawful action to end those many abuses,” Trump said. “Thousands of factories have been stolen from our country, but these voiceless Americans now have a voice in the White House. Under my administration, the theft of American prosperity will end. We’re going to defend our industry and create a level playing field for the American worker, finally,” the US president said.

Trade volume between Thailand and the US was worth was an average US$37 billion (Bt1.29 trillion) annually over the past four years. Thai exports to the US in 2015 and 2016 were valued at $23.6 billion and $24.3 billion respectively, according to the Customs Department.

Over the past four years, Thailand has had a trade surplus with the US – $8 billion in 2013, $9 billion in 2014, $9.8 billion in 2015, and $12.2 billion in 2016. The surplus with the US last year represented 68 per cent of Thailand’s total trade surplus of $17.9 billion. 

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