The acting director-general of the Thailand Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Trade Department says his office had been warning exporters about the potential loss of duty-free access on multiple exports. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced on Friday that it was suspending $1.3 billion in trade preferences for Thailand under the Generalized System of Preferences for its failure to adequately protect worker rights. Thailand wants to initiate talks with the U.S. before the move takes effect in April.
A New York Daily News article says Thailand has faced complaints for years over multiple labor issues, especially in its fisheries industry. The U.S. announcement about the revocation said, “Despite six years of engagement, Thailand has yet to take steps to provide internationally recognized worker rights in many important areas identified in a 2015 petition from the AFL-CIO.”
The U.S. move drew special attention because it came soon after Thailand had announced a ban on glyphosate. However, both U.S. and Thai officials denied any connection.