Nov 11, 2012

Thailand - Thai expectations high from US presidential trip

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THAILAND - The visit of US President Barack Obama next week will not only mark the 180th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Thailand and the United States, it will also bring up serious political and economic matters for discussion, officials said yesterday.

Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul said Obama's visit would boost the Kingdom's standing in the international community. Thailand has been a long-time strategic partner of the US.

Among economic issues, upgrading Thailand's trade status and eliminating obstacles will be the two key topics up for discussion.

A senior official at the Commerce Ministry explained that Thai authorities had been trying hard to upgrade the country's status on the Special 301 Report of the Office of the US Trade Representative and that the president's visit would be the perfect time to show that efforts are being made to protect intellectual property (IP).

The US has been including Thailand in its Priority Watch List (PWL), which is the second-lowest ranking given to countries violating IP protection. Officials hope that Thailand will be moved up to the normal Watch List in April after languishing in the PWL category for five years. Thailand will tell Washington about progress in endorsing two laws related to protection of IP rights.

It will also call on the US to lower its stringent trade barriers and increase fairness for facilitating trade and investment between the two nations.

Talks on Thailand's participation in the Washington-initiated Trans Pacific Partnership could also be on the table, the source said.

According to the US Embassy in Thailand, Obama will visit Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar in the Asean region from November 17-20.

This would be a historic official visit by a US president to those countries, reflecting his strong interest to the Asean region. Advance security teams from the US have already visited these countries to prepare the grounds for his visit.

Obama will meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to mark 180 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and the US, to reaffirm as well as strengthen the alliance in various sectors, an official statement said.

The Nation/Asia News Network

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