Treating Thailand as pariah hurts trade with U.S. – sacbee.com, November 19, 2014
…In May, when a divisive elected government was toppled in the wake of large-scale unrest in Bangkok, Kerry condemned the military government that replaced it. The U.S. then imposed sanctions in the name of “democracy.” Yet last month, a nationwide survey found that 83 percent of Thais were satisfied with their government. The new government is unpopular with the State Department, but it is very popular with the Thai people.
While the State Department’s stance on Thailand is not often covered in the American media, it is headline news in Bangkok. Inevitably, Thais are contrasting U.S. hostility with China’s charm offensive and the positive approach of the Japanese and other governments. They welcome China’s and Japan’s expanding investment in Thailand. Meanwhile, the U.S. is losing out on this important market.
Not so long ago, American products were Thai favorites, and American companies and investment were at the forefront of Thailand’s economic development. Today, Chinese products and capital are dominant. The U.S. has slipped to third place, behind China and Japan, among Thailand’s bilateral trading partners…
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