Ministry of Commerce to negotiate with US to restore GSP

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - The Ministry will negotiate with the US to restore the recently suspended Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) without using any trade countermeasures.

Ministry of Commerce inspector-general and acting director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade,Keerati Rushchano, said on Monday that the Ministry will negotiate with the US to restore the recently suspended Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) without using any trade countermeasures.

“The negotiations with United States Trade Representative (USTR) are expected to take place during 35th Asean Summit which will be held in Bangkok next month, along with negotiations for the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Joint Council (TIFA-JC),” he said. “We are planning to discuss several issues with US representatives covering both export and labour rights.”

The inspector-general also insisted that the US had full authority and discretion to hand out and suspend GSP to developing countries and there could be many reasons to reconsider the preference, such as level of development, intellectual property protection, labour rights, and support of the USA’s anti-terrorism effort. “We need to negotiate the issues in detail before saying what the real reason behind this GSP suspension is,” he said.

Keerati further explained that the GSP suspension of 573 products does not mean that US will no longer import these products, which have total estimated valued of Bt40 billion, from Thailand, “We can still export to the US but will have to pay the tariff at 4.5 per cent on average instead of 0 per cent, or an estimated Bt1.8 billion,” he said. “Products to suffer from the highest tariff are ceramic kitchenware at 26 per cent, while the lowest tariff collected is for chemical products at 0.1 per cent.

Keerati also said that the GSP suspension has nothing to do with the ban of 3 agrochemicals previously approved by the Hazardous Substance Committee, as the United States has been signaling its intentions for GSP revision for quite some time. “The government and Ministry of Commerce have been aware of possible GSP suspension and have prepared measures to help Thai exporters such as identifying new alternative markets and promoting the adding of value to the products,” he said. “We believe that eventually Thai exporters will survive the GSP suspension by the US in the same way they survived EU’s and Japan’s suspension earlier.”

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