Re­marks by Am­bas­sador Glyn T. Davies at AMCHAM’S Oc­to­ber Monthly Luncheon

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents -

Thank you Judy, for the kind in­tro­duc­tion, and to the AMCHAM Board of Gov­er­nors and gen­eral mem­ber­ship for host­ing me and my wife Jackie to­day, and for the strong col­lab­o­ra­tion AMCHAM and the Em­bassy have en­joyed for over half a cen­tury.

I’ve had the great plea­sure of meet­ing some of you al­ready in my first weeks in Thai­land, but look for­ward to meet­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of all U. S. com­pa­nies and Thai mem­bers of AMCHAM, and hear­ing first­hand from you about the chal­lenges you face, and how we can help.

Like all good am­bas­sadors, I come here to­day with an ex­pert posse -- col­leagues whom many of you know, who have hero­ically helped me come up to speed on Thai­land’s lo­cal scene: Eco­nomic Coun­selor Kristina Kvien, Com­mer­cial Coun­selor Greg Wong, Agri­cul­tural Coun­selor Bobby Richey, In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer Melissa Sweeney, and Eco­nomic Of­fi­cer Rachel Mueller

If I had to boil my mis­sion state­ment down for you here to­day, I’d say that, dur­ing my ten­ure, I am com­mit­ted to not only sus­tain­ing, but ex­pand­ing the U. S.- Thai part­ner­ship that has en­dured for an aus­pi­cious nine gen­er­a­tions. And that part­ner­ship is one based more than any­thing else on ex­actly what you do – eco­nomic re­la­tions, trade, in­vest­ment, and commerce.

It is not a part­ner­ship born of great power ri­valry, or mil­i­tary am­bi­tion, or colo­nial com­pe­ti­tion, or ge­o­graphic de­ter­min­ism. It was born in the very sim­ple and en­dur­ing de­sire of two in­de­pen­dent na­tions – the United States and Siam -- to seek mu­tual ad­van­tage and ad­vance­ment by bind­ing their for­tunes to­gether.

It be­gan with the sign­ing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833, which with the peace­ful stroke of quill pens, es­tab­lished commerce as the orig­i­nal and en­dur­ing or­ga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple of our re­la­tion­ship. I am con­fi­dent that de­spite the tran­sient po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges and eco­nomic un­cer­tain­ties that some­times buf­fet us, the ties that bind the United States and the King­dom of Thai­land will en­dure. I mean to do what I can to keep it so.

How do we make sure of that? By work­ing ev­ery day with our Thai friends and part­ners to de­velop op­por­tu­ni­ties and to deal with the chal­lenges that ex­tend far be­yond the purely com­mer­cial realm.

We work with Thai au­thor­i­ties on ev­ery­thing from fight­ing cor­rup­tion to urg­ing stake­holder con­sul­ta­tion on reg­u­la­tory re­forms. My team talks to Thai coun­ter­parts ev­ery day to level the play­ing field here for U. S. in­vest­ments and prod­ucts.

We also work di­rectly with you on mat­ters such as op­er­a­tional se­cu­rity through our Over­seas Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil ( OSAC), and on other is­sues like health, en­vi­ron­ment, and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. We col­lab­o­rate with you on projects, in­clud­ing the Thai- U. S. Cre­ative Part­ner­ship, your an­nual USA Fair, the Ful­bright English Teach­ing As­sis­tant Pro­gram, and AMCHAM Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity Awards.

I have my­self dived into our shared agenda with both feet. Last week, I took my first trip to Ray­ong Prov­ince, where I vis­ited three AMCHAM mem­ber com­pa­nies: Star Petroleum - a Chevron part­ner­ship op­er­at­ing Thai­land’s largest re­fin­ery; Ford Mo­tor Com­pany Thai­land, which op­er­ates a state- of- the- art pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity ex­port­ing to all of ASEAN; and Jelly Belly, born from an iconic Amer­i­can candy com­pany run by the same fam­ily for 117 years, which ex­ports 10 mil­lion pounds of candy to 55 coun­tries.

I was so im­pressed with what I saw in Ray­ong that I’d like to give spe­cial thanks to sev­eral of your mem­bers who hosted me on that visit:

• Bill Stone, who has in­stilled an im­pres­sive cul­ture of safety and ex­cel­lence at Star Petroleum;

• Mark Kauf­man and his re­mark­able

team at Ford, who bring out the best in their tal­ented Thai employees;

• Dave Nar­done of He­maraj in­dus­trial park, home to over 100 AMCHAM mem­bers; and

• Don Hel­ton, whose mar­ket­ing ge­nius at Jelly Belly has them run­ning over­time shifts to make can­dies that taste bad. I’m not kid­ding – they are making fla­vors like “dog food,” “stinky socks,” “ear­wax,” and “rot­ten eggs” - and they can­not keep up with de­mand!

The work th­ese com­pa­nies and in­deed all of you do re­minds me of the strate­gic im­por­tance of your work. The scholar Thomas Gray fa­mously said, “Commerce changes the fate and ge­nius of na­tions.” That is cer­tainly true for Thai­land, and true of your im­pact here.

U. S. com­pa­nies like yours have been lead­ers in in­vest­ing in Thai­land for decades, and are rec­og­nized for giv­ing back to their com­mu­ni­ties, pro­vid­ing good jobs for 250,000 Thai cit­i­zens, and pour­ing count­less hours and re­sources into Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity ( CSR) projects.

I want to rec­og­nize the valu­able con­tri­bu­tions you are making to­wards build­ing peace and pros­per­ity in Thai­land and the re­gion. Your ef­forts to bring state- of- the art tech­nolo­gies and best prac­tices on safety and train­ing, and your close work­ing re­la­tion­ships with the Thai peo­ple, are the foun­da­tion of Amer­ica’s part­ner­ship with this na­tion and its peo­ple.

But I know it’s not all sweet­ness and light. While there are many suc­cess sto­ries of Amer­i­can busi­ness in Thai­land, I also know you face many chal­lenges you face. I’ve read your Busi­ness Out­look Sur­vey, show­ing Thai­land has de­creased in 14 out of 16 busi­ness cli­mate in­di­ca­tors.

I know is­sues like cor­rup­tion, lack of trans­parency, flawed cus­toms pro­ce­dures and poor IPR pro­tec­tion are con­cerns. I understand there have been trou­bling devel­op­ments with re­spect to new laws and reg­u­la­tions af­fect­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, al­co­holic bev­er­ages, and even in­fant for­mula. There’re also long­stand­ing mar­ket ac­cess is­sues with prod­ucts such as U. S. beef and pork. We have an ac­tive di­a­logue on th­ese and other trade is­sues un­der the U. S.- Thai­land Trade and In­vest­ment Frame­work Agree­ment, as well as through bi­lat­eral meet­ings and ex­changes.

I know too that many of your busi­nesses op­er­ate re­gion­ally and glob­ally. The Asia- Pa­cific re­gion will grow dra­mat­i­cally, to 3.2 bil­lion peo­ple by 2030. Two thirds of the world’s mid­dle class will call Asia home. We want to sup­port your ef­forts to be a part of the con­tin­ued eco­nomic rise of this re­gion, bring­ing high- value, high- pay­ing jobs and tech­nol­ogy.

Over the last ten years, trade be­tween the United States and ASEAN in goods alone has grown by more than 60%. The United States is ASEAN’S third largest trad­ing part­ner, and is the largest sin­gle­coun­try source of de­mand for many ASEAN coun­tries, in­clud­ing Thai­land, when mea­sured from a value- added per­spec­tive.

The United States sup­ports ASEAN in­te­gra­tion, in­clud­ing the ASEAN Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity, which will launch at the end of this year and, over time, make ASEAN economies stronger and more com­pet­i­tive. We are es­pe­cially in­ter­ested in re­forms through ASEAN- wide ini­tia­tives that fo­cus on reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers, in­vest­ment re­stric­tions, in­tel­lec­tual property theft, cus­toms is­sues, lack of trans­parency, and dig­i­tal econ­omy poli­cies.

Through APEC, we are work­ing on is­sues from dig­i­tal trade to women’s eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment, ne­go­ti­at­ing with other mem­ber economies to lib­er­al­ize ser­vices, and sup­port­ing small and medium en­ter­prises. We aim to re­duce and elim­i­nate bar­ri­ers to trade in health­care prod­ucts, and to en­sure ful­fill­ment of the com­mit­ment to lower tar­iffs on en­vi­ron­men­tal goods.

The WTO can be an­other way to in­crease trade. The United States has been a leader in rat­i­fy­ing the WTO “Bali Agree­ment.” Ear­lier this month, Thai­land be­came the 20th coun­try to sub­mit its let­ter of ac­cep­tance to rat­ify Bali, get­ting us closer to putting the agree­ment into ef­fect. This deal will re­duce global trade costs by 10% or more by im­prov­ing cus­toms and border pro­ce­dures.

Of course, an­other very no­table re­cent de­vel­op­ment is the con­clu­sion of ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Trans- Pa­cific Part­ner­ship. The TPP cov­ers nearly 40% of the global econ­omy, and we es­ti­mate it will grow U. S. ex­ports by more than $ 123 bil­lion. It is a con­crete man­i­fes­ta­tion of our re­bal­anc­ing strat­egy to­ward Asia.

The TPP is a high- stan­dard, am­bi­tious, com­pre­hen­sive and bal­anced agree­ment that sets a new stan­dard for global trade. It is a land­mark 21st cen­tury pact that not only elim­i­nates or re­duces tar­iff and non- tar­iff bar­ri­ers across goods and ser­vices, but also cov­ers a full spec­trum of top­ics such as good gov­er­nance, reg­u­la­tory trans­parency, la­bor and en­vi­ron­men­tal stan­dards, state- owned en­ter­prises, and the dig­i­tal econ­omy.

The re­sult is a pact that will cre­ate and sup­port jobs, re­duce poverty, and raise liv­ing stan­dards, ben­e­fit­ting work­ers, busi­nesses, and con­sumers. If Thai­land or oth­ers want to ex­plore join­ing TPP, the U. S. and our 11 TPP part­ners would very much wel­come that.

So th­ese are just a few bi­lat­eral, re­gional, and mul­ti­lat­eral tools that we have to sup­port U. S. com­pa­nies and make it eas­ier to do busi­ness in Thai­land and around the world. I’m open to hear­ing about how we can do more to­gether, about busi­ness chal­lenges, and about fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Our Eco­nomic, Com­mer­cial, and Agri­cul­tural teams at the U. S. Em­bassy also stand ready to sup­port your goals.

Once again, I greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the sup­port of the Cham­ber as we pursue shared ob­jec­tives and work closely to­gether on im­por­tant ini­tia­tives and pro­grams. If there is any­thing I or my staff can do to as­sist, don’t hes­i­tate to con­tact us.

Thank you very much for wel­com­ing Jackie, me and my col­leagues here to­day. With that, I look for­ward to hear­ing your com­ments and ques­tions.

U. S. Am­bas­sador Glyn T. Davies at AMCHAM’S Oc­to­ber monthly luncheon

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