Thailand would pursue negotiations with the United States over its suspension of duty-free preferences on imports of Thai goods, a senior commerce ministry official said on Monday.
‘We will negotiate in all forums and use all channels ... to communicate and create understanding on the issues (with the US),’ Keerati Rushchano, acting director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade, told a news conference.
He also said the government will support Thai exporters in efforts to diversify their markets.
‘There will be trips for business to explore new markets in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and secondary cities in China and India where markets are not so familiar with Thai products,’ Keerati said.
On Friday, the US suspended duty-free treatment of Thai imports worth $1.3 billion, including seafood products, under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme, saying Thailand did not ‘afford workers in Thailand internationally recognised worker rights.’
The loss of duty-free treatment would cause Thai products to incur duties between 1.5 billion baht to 1.8 billion baht ($59.6 million) a year, the Thai commerce minister said on Sunday.
CP Foods Pcl, a giant Bangkok-based food company, said that just one of its exported products, shrimp wonton noodles, would be affected by the US move. Thai Union Group Pcl, the world’s largest producer of canned tuna, said that the decision would not have any material impact on its business.
At 08:40 GMT on Monday, shares of CP Foods were down 2 per cent and those of Thai Union were off 3.57 per cent.
On Sunday, the government said that it was ready to negotiate the issue of labour unions for migrant workers.
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