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20 Nov 2017


New Era in Bilateral Trade Negotiations with US to Transform Thai Trade Strategies (Current Issue No. 2881 Full Ed.)


 Bilateral trade negotiations with the US are ushering in a new era following President Trump's historic visit to Asia, November 5-14, 2017. Aside from security matters, high on his agenda is to promote US economic, trade and investment relations, bilaterally with Asian nations, rather than at regional and multinational levels as seen in the past.

President Trump's embrace of bilateralism has been strategized to ensure that Asia recognizes reciprocity that would benefit American businesses in Asia and at home. Certainly, Asian nations should be inclined toward that stance, though it is believed that they will be cautious toward any negotiations with the US.

We at KResearch are of the view that President Trump's embrace of bilateralism is quite special in that it combines “free, fair and reciprocal trade” and “America comes first” as a core of US bilateral trade negotiations with trade partners, wherein both sides may begin with an unwritten deal before fostering better relations on other issues that could eventually pave the way for other cooperation and trade agreements, rather than on the free trade agreements as seen before.

To prepare for looming bilateral trade negotiations with the US, Thailand should have a thorough understanding of the US strategic stance toward our country so that we can devise mutually-acceptable negotiating conditions. Thailand should closely monitor US bilateral trade strategies with other countries because certain strategies could affect supply chains of Thai goods and exports, e.g. the US is promoting that Japanese investors should expand (auto) production in the US. Moreover, Thailand should have multiple facets to put forth in our strategies when negotiating with the US. In particular, strategies toward trade in goods that could help facilitate Thailand-US relations should be at the forefront, while strategies for trade in services should be reciprocated via better market access and/or facilitations toward foreign investments and/or toward the scope of such business operations.

All in all, the US market continues to bolster Thai exports. Nevertheless, Thai businesses should adopt strategies specific to each market and attempt to better understand the needs of the millennial segment, as well as the level of competition in countries where they are planning to do business, rather than on trade privileges, as before. They are also advised to expand production to such targeted markets because this will benefit their businesses over the long term.

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