Bangkok Post - 16 August 2019
US businesses urge Thailand to join CPTPP
The US-Asean Business Council is is calling for the Thai government to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the successor to the 11-country pact that President Donald Trump pulled his country out of in 2017.
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, who met representatives from the council on Thursday, said US businesses also urged the government to settle negotiations — now nearly four years behind schedule — for the 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
They remarked that Thailand joining the CPTPP would greatly benefit US investors in Thailand, Mr Jurin said.
"American investors would like to know about the government’s policies for a modern and digital economy, e-commerce and foreign direct investment promotion," he said.
Mr Jurin said he urged US investors to use more agricultural materials such as rubber from Thailand and affirmed the government’s willingness to support investment in a modern economy with social responsibility.
He said the government was committed to supporting the contract farming scheme to help stabilise farmers’ income.
Alexander Feldman, president and chief executive of the US-Asean Business Council, said US businesses are confident in Thai economic growth prospects and want to hear the government’s policies.
Representatives from Airbnb, Apple, Amazon, Chevron, MSD, Dow, ExxonMobil, Harley-Davidson, FedEx and Ford were among the US delegation.
"There is a new hope, and new investments coming to Thailand will definitely total hundreds of millions of US dollars," Mr Feldman said.
US investors also support the Thailand 4.0 programme and Thailand’s digital economy strategies and are keen to invest in 5G technology.
Siriporn Chaiyasuta, vice-president for Asia-Pacific strategy at Chevron Asia-Pacific Exploration and Production, said this is the biggest American delegation to visit Thailand since the US-Asean Business Council began 35 years ago, as 108 visitors from 46 companies were involved.
She said Thailand’s recent election, status as the chair of Asean this year, and environment and fundamentals make the country attractive for new investments.
"American investors are adjusting their plans to align them with the government," Ms Siriporn said. "Chevron is also having an social investment programme in the Eastern Economic Corridor and will support the upgrade of labour skills at six vocational schools in the EEC area."
Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said the recent decision by Washington to delay hiking tariffs on Chinese imports is a good sign and she expects the US and China to resume trade talks soon.
"Thailand still has a good chance to boost exports of products to substitute for Chinese goods, particularly for processed food, food, garments and household appliances," she said.