US President Donald Trump singled out Thailand – along with Vietnam, Indonesia and 13 other countries – when he announced the signing of two executive orders on Friday that he said would lead to a historic reversal of his country’s trade deficit, with the promise of cracking down on “foreign importers that cheat”.
The first of the two orders will require a report on the causes of the trade imbalance within 90 days, with a focus on China, Japan, Germany, Mexico, Ireland, Vietnam, Italy, South Korea, Malaysia, India, Thailand, France, Switzerland, Taiwan, Indonesia and Canada.
According to US Census Bureau data, US exports to Thailand last year were worth $10.57 billion and imports totalled $29.49 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $18.92 billion, up from $15.4 billion in 2015 and $14.3 billion in 2014.
Major exports from Thailand to the US include electrical machinery, rubber, precious stones and processed meat and fish, with 35 percent of all tyres imported by the US coming from Thailand. The United States and China were Thailand’s two top export markets last year, with each accounting for about 11 percent of total shipments.
In Washington on Friday, Trump directed some tough talk at importers that he believes are not playing by the rules. “They’re cheaters! From now on, those who break the rules will face the consequences and they’ll be very severe consequences,” he said.
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