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U.S. Seeks to Boost Exports to Thailand, Reduce Bilateral Trade Deficit

Thursday, April 12, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Dismantling Thailand’s barriers to U.S. exports and reducing the U.S. goods trade deficit with Thailand were among the points of emphasis in an April 10 meeting under a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. That deficit rose 6.9 percent in 2017 to $20.4 billion as U.S. exports to Thailand rose 3.8 percent to $10.8 billion but imports jumped 5.8 percent to $31.2 billion.

USTR states that the two sides discussed barriers related to agriculture, customs, intellectual property, labor, and other issues. They also discussed broader regional and multilateral engagement, including Thailand’s efforts to implement the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement, and ways to advance work under the ASEAN-U.S. TIFA.

Problematic Thai policies cited in USTR’s 2018 report on foreign trade barriers include the following.

- new regulations on labeling of alcoholic beverages

- labeling restrictions on foods for infants and young children

- export facility audits for animal-derived products

- continued ban on imports of beef offal, live poultry, and poultry meat from U.S.

- effective ban on importation of U.S. pork products

- high and discriminatory import permit fees for uncooked meat

- high tariffs on imports competing with locally-produced goods, including automobiles, auto parts, beef, pork, poultry, tea, tobacco, flowers, alcoholic beverages, and textiles and apparel

- recent excise tax increases on vehicles, alcohol, batteries, and other goods

- incentives for customs officials who initiate investigations or enforcement actions

- inconsistent application of the transaction valuation methodology

- lack of public notification of proposed changes in customs laws and regulations

- subsidies, including import duty reductions and exemptions, for production of certain goods

- widespread piracy and counterfeiting and other intellectual property issues

- new regulatory framework for delivery of film and TV content over the Internet

- lack of consistency and transparency in processes used to revise laws and regulations affecting trade and investment

- increasingly opaque and unpredictable pharmaceutical procurement regulations

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