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Thailand says U.S. trade deficit 'not significant', no unfair policy
May 11, 2017 / 1:03 PM / 6 months ago

Thailand says U.S. trade deficit 'not significant', no unfair policy

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand said on Thursday the U.S. trade deficit with it was “not significant” and it had not conducted any foreign exchange rate policies to gain an unfair trade advantage.

Thailand is among countries that run a trade surplus with the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to push a crusade for fair trade and has ordered a study into the causes of U.S. trade deficits.

Thailand has submitted to the United States a report clarifying that the U.S. trade deficit with Thailand came from structural factors between their economies, not any unfair trade policies, Pimchanok Vonkhorporn, head of the Commerce Ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said in a statement.

“The value of the deficit is not significantly high because it’s only 1.5 percent of the total U.S. trade deficit,” she said, adding that U.S. imports to Thailand were not high because it had no free trade agreements with Thailand.

Slow U.S. investment in Thailand and the impact of slow global growth on the Thai economy were among factors behind low Thai imports from the United States, Pimchanok said.

She said Thai exports to the United States and investment there also helped develop the U.S. economy and add U.S. jobs, while U.S. companies also used Thailand as production bases.

Thailand had not conducted any currency intervention policies to gain an unfair advantage in trade and the central bank focused on stability in exchange rates, Pimchanok said.

Thailand had a trade surplus of about $18 billion with the United States last year, putting it 11th globally - well behind China’s $347 billion surplus or nearby Vietnam’s $32 billion.

The United States is a major market for Thai exports at a time the military government is struggling to revive growth in Southeast Asia’s second’s largest economy, which has lagged regional peers.

The ministry, in its report, drew attention to a 184-year relationship between Thailand and the United States, including in trade and investment, Pimchanok said.

Reporting by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Robert Birsel

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