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US still interested in Thai free trade deal

Agence France-Presse | Tuesday July 24, 2007

US still interested in Thai free trade deal

The United States is still interested in a free trade deal with Thailand, the US embassy here said Tuesday, adding that a top trade official had been misquoted as saying the deal was off.

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab was misquoted in an interview with the Straits Times newspaper on Monday as saying that "we have given up having an FTA with Thailand," the embassy said in a statement.

"The Straits Times story inadvertently dropped the word ’not’ in the above quote, completely reversing the meaning of Ambassador Schwab’s words," the embassy said.

The paper has agreed to run a correction on its website, the statement said.

Schwab actually said: "In the case of Thailand, that FTA stalled out shortly before the coup, and then obviously with the coup it became impossible to proceed. We have not given up having a free-trade agreement with Thailand."

The United States announced in November that free trade talks had been suspended until a democratic government was in place.

The junta has promised to hold elections by the end of this year, but since taking power the army-installed government has pressed ahead with free-trade deals that had been negotiated under ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand signed an FTA with Japan in April, and has moved to speed up talks with India.

Talks with the United States, which began in 2003, have been dogged by controversy, particularly over patent protections for US pharmaceuticals.

The United States is Thailand’s largest trading partner with two-way trade reaching more than 30 billion dollars last year, according to US government figures.

 source: The Raw Story