In a letter written to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President of the Senate and Vice President Mike Pence, US President Donald Trump said he had suspended duty-free treatment of certain Thai products because the country had not taken steps to “afford workers in Thailand internationally recognised worker rights.”
The US Trade Representative’s office said the move amounted to a suspension of US$1.3 billion in trade preferences for Thailand under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme.
The suspension, which goes into effect in six months, will affect about a third of Thailand’s products included in the trade programme. Duty-free treatment will be revoked for all Thailand’s seafood exports to the US over labour issues, the USTR’s office said.
A few days earlier, the US Department of Agriculture sent a document to the Thai government calling Thailand to delay and review the imposition of a ban of using three toxic farm chemicals, the herbicides paraquat and glyphosate and the pesticide chlorpyrifos in the country.
The US also accused the Thai government of banning glyphosate without sufficient scientific proof, asserting that the ban will affect Thai imports of US soybean and wheat as well as Thailand’s farmers and trade partners.
However, the Thai government has rejected the US opposition. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Thai officials would be assigned to clearly explained Thailand’s position to the US Embassy in Bangkok.
Thai Deputy Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the US was worried only about trade while the Thai government was concerned about the health of Thai consumers.