The big news on the trade front is the recent conclusion on October 5 of the Trans- Pacific Partnership ( TPP). TPP is the single largest free trade agreement negotiated to date which accounts for 40 percent of global GDP. It covers twelve nations, including the U. S., Mexico, Canada, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Peru.
The exciting news for U. S. companies doing business in the eleven partner countries is that TPP is all about leveling the playing field so that all companies have equal treatment and standards. For U. S. exports, TPP eliminates over 18,000 different taxes on Made in America exports. TPP also removes non- tariff barriers that put U. S. businesses at a disadvantage, such as unfair competition from stateowned enterprises and fully enforced labor standards that prohibit child and forced labor.
Next steps? Each country needs, in their own regulatory environment, to ratify the agreement. In the U. S., this means that President Obama may use his authority to present TPP to Congress under the Trade Promotion Authority ( TPA). TPA allows the President to negotiate international agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster. At this point, we do not know when President Obama plans to present TPP to Congress for a vote, but we will be advocating hard to ensure that it gets passed as quickly as possible.
Despite our enthusiasm for TPP, you may have noted that Thailand was not party to the negotiations. However, TPP will help ensure that Thailand stays competitive, particularly visa- vis its neighbors such as Malaysia and Vietnam, which are part of TPP. Hence we will continue to urge the Royal Thai Government to evaluate and seriously consider joining TPP. And while new countries may not be accepted into TPP until such time as the agreement is ratified and processes for accepting new countries developed, this doesn’t mean that Thailand shouldn’t start to get their regulatory environment in place so that they are ready when the time comes. We plan a series of events next year which will look more closely at what TPP means to Thailand and our member companies’ business. To learn more about TPP and how it affects business, go to page 28 to find an article distributed by the White House on how TPP boosts exports, supports jobs and protects workers.
Closer to home, we were delighted to welcome newly- arrived Ambassador Glyn Davies and his wife Jacqueline to the Chamber’s Annual General Meeting ( AGM) on October 27. We were honored that AMCHAM was his first official speech in Thailand and almost 300 members were in attendance to welcome and greet Ambassador Davies. We are looking forward to working with him in the coming years.
At the AGM, the membership elected the new Governors for the 2016- 2017 term on the Board and I offer my congratulations to all of them. They included: returning Governors David Carden, Fedex; Neil Hansen, Esso; and Christian Malherbe, Pfizer; and five newly- elected Governors: Herman Ehrlich, Conrad Bangkok; Dale Lee, COFFEEWORKS; Teera Phutrakul, JTFP; Parnsiree Amatayakul, IBM; and Mark Kaufman, Ford ASEAN. The 2015 Board also appointed Dhanakorn Kasetrsuwan of LA- Z- BOY to fill a vacant seat left by a departing Governor earlier in the year.
I wish to thank the Election Supervision Committee consisting of Governors Marcos Purty, General Motors and Waewkanee Assoratgoon, YUM Restaurants International, Dana Caron of Roadhouse Barbeque, and Tomi Latva- Kiskola of New Hampshire Life Insurance for overseeing the election and ballot counting process to ensure that it was transparent and fair.
Lastly, as we look at membership renewals for 2016, please review the Chamber’s Corporate Partnership packages which are detailed on page 51. These packages bundle together AMCHAM membership ( with unlimited representatives) along with promotional and sponsorship opportunities. These packages help our member companies in budgeting for Chamber support and help reduce the amount of time the Chamber office spends on reaching out for financial support.
The Chamber office is willing to custom- design one of the Partnership levels if you wish to have help in arranging your own package. I hope you avail yourself of this one- stop marketing planning program.