June 30, 2023
BANGKOK – US ambassador Robert F. Godec has announced that the US has drawn up a work plan that focuses on trade and investment and stressed that his country is ready to work with the new Thai government regardless of the political party making up its composition.
The media roundtable, the first attended by Godec since taking up his post 9 months ago, also addressed the development of bilateral relationships between the two nations that go back 190 years, in terms of politics, trade and economics, and investment, as well as issues of major importance to the Asean community such as the ongoing unrest in Myanmar. He also laid to rest rumours that the US had intervened in the recent general election.
Noting that the US and Thailand have accomplished a great deal together over the years on such issues as education, law enforcement and security, Godec expressed pleasure at the ever-expanding bilateral trade and investment ties that have increased by 50% over the last two years, adding that the US was now Thailand’s top export market.
The two governments have also discussed space research and agreed to cooperate in this field.
“Our shared commitment to the security partnership and to preparing for humanitarian crises and natural disasters is also strong, as was demonstrated by our recent Cobra gold exercise, the largest in years. Looking ahead, there is a lot more we can accomplish together, for example, deepening our collaboration in the digital world, creative industries, clean energy and space research. All of these areas hold promise for our partnership,” he said.
However, Godec stressed that, for now at least, his priority is to expand trade and investment ties and implement further education exchanges.
In terms of bilateral relationships with Thailand and on political issues, Godec said he would be happy to work with the new government across all dimensions and especially on implementing the goals set out in the US strategic communique, and reminded members of the press that the US has always cooperated closely with all Thai governments including that led by outgoing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The ambassador congratulated Thailand and the Thai people for their impressive turnout in the recent general election and their commitment to making their voices heard.
“The United States is a firm supporter of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections,” he said.
Dismissing the rumours that the US had interfered in the Thai election, Godec emphasised that the US has no preferred candidate. “We have no preferred political party in Thailand. What we do is support the democratic process and we did not interfere during the election in May.
Underlining his country’s commitment to democratic values, he said: “There are important things that can be done to strengthen democracy. One is to give civil society the space that it needs to do the work that it can do. The contributions that it can make are important and significant, focusing on things like labour rights, taking care of people with disabilities, helping one another, engaging frankly with the media and allowing the media to play their critical role in democracy.
On economic ties, he reiterated that Thailand and the US have made a lot of progress and further negotiations were underway. “As ambassador to Thailand, my work is to welcome more American investors to the country and continue to deliver greater cooperation in trade.”
Moving to Asean-related issues, Godec stressed that the US respects Asean centrality and Thailand’s leadership role on issues like the ongoing unrest in Myanmar.
“We respect Asean’s centrality. We very much appreciate what Thailand has done, for example, the support that it has provided to some of the refugees and those fleeing Myanmar. We hold regular and candid conversations with the Royal Thai Government on Myanmar and I anticipate these will continue with the next government.”
As for the recent informal talks hosted by Thailand in an attempt to solve the situation in Myanmar, Godec said: “ There is clearly a need for the situation inside Myanmar to end. The latest meetings, as I understand them, were not an Asean initiative. We certainly recognise and we continue to welcome Asean’s efforts to address this crisis, and urge Asean to hold Myanmar and the junta regime accountable. We call on the military regime to implement the five-point consensus. This is really critically important for the future of all of the people”.