Trade officers prepare for Trump era

Economy January 23, 2017 01:00


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AMID concern over the impact on Thailand’s export growth of so-called “Trumponomics” under the new US president and the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote, Thai trade officers from 63 posts in 47 countries will attend a meeting in Bangkok on February 22 that has been called by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Deputy Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said US President Donald Trump’s trade policy and Brexit – the UK’s electorate’s decision to leave the European Union – were the two major factors of concern in regard to their effect on global trading this year.

“Thai trade officers will discuss and brainstorm for trade strategies to handle any unexpected trade measures that might be imposed by the US against China or others. Although US trade policy should not have a direct impact on Thai goods exports, indirect trade effects on exports to China and Asean countries are expected – and Thailand should therefore draw up new strategies to drive export growth,” he explained.

At next month’s meeting, four Thai trade officers in the US – based in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – will report on Trump’s new trade policy and the potential impact on Thailand’s trade, and that of other countries. 

Trade officers will then brainstorm potential strategies and solutions for driving the Kingdom’s export growth to the US, which is currently targeted to come in at 3 per cent this year, the deputy minister added.

The US is Thailand’s second-largest export market after Asean, with shipments accounting for 11.4 per cent of total Thai export value, according to the Commerce Ministry.

In the first 11 months of last year, exports to the US rose 1.7 per cent from the same period in 2015, to US$22.5 billion (Bt797 billion).

In addition, as things should be clearer this year on how last June’s Brexit vote will affect the global economy, the Thai trade officer in London will report on the economic situation in the UK, which – contrary to many forecasts – has not yet been seriously affected by the decision to leave the EU.

With a better picture expected to emerge on whether Brexit will negatively affect Britain’s trade with the rest of the world, and its exchange rate, Thailand will need to prepare solutions in advance to cover any negative consequences, Sontirat said.

Commerce Ministry data shows that the UK is Thailand’s third-largest export market among the 28 member states of the EU. 

Over the past three years, the average annual export value from Thailand to the UK was $3.87 billion, while the average shipment value to the EU market as a whole was $20 billion.

Moreover, the 63 Thai trade officers will also focus on addressing problems and drawing up solutions and strategies for the Kingdom’s exports to achieve the overall growth target of 3-3.5 per cent this year. The priority item on the agenda at the meeting will be the global trade situation, including the slowdown of China’s economy and the impact on the new US administration’s trade policy. 

The meeting will also focus on international conflicts and political change in many countries in the EU, and whether Thailand needs to adjust its marketing plans to penetrate other potential markets.

This year, the ministry’s current focus is on: deepening traditional markets to new areas and cities; Asean, with a particular focus on the CLMV area of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam; India; and countries in the Middle East.

The ministry will not only focus on product shipments, but also on service businesses, as services are the future of export growth, Sontirat said.