Thailand is to ask the United States to reconsider removal of trade preferences for Thai exports under the Generalized System of Preferences, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said today (Sunday).

He said that, in the past, whenever trade benefits for Thai products exported to the US were suspended, Thailand appealed to the US adding, however, that it was at the US's discretion whether to reconsider the suspension.

Once trade preferences for Thai products are removed, Mr Jurin said that those products become subject to taxation of between 4% and 5%, making such products more expensive in the US market.

He played down the impacts of the US move, however, saying that, although US$1.8 billion worth of Thai exports were granted trade preferences by the US each year, only about US$1.3 billion worth of Thai exports actually applied for the benefits.

Mr Jurin said that, due to the taxation resulting from the removal of GSP privileges, Thai exporters will face costs, estimated at between ?1.5 billion and ?1.8 billion baht annually, should they wish to maintain the pre-change prices of its products in the US market.

The Thai's chief strategist Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, however, said that the suspension of trade benefits was a major issue which will heavily impact Thai exports to the US at a time when exports are already declining due US-China trade tensions and the strong baht currency.

She urged the Thai government to hold immediate talks with the US and to ascertain the actual reason for the US action against Thai exporters, while predicting unemployment in Thailand will increase, with as many as 500,000 Thai workers being laid off.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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