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Cablegate: Preparing for Secretary Locke's Meeting with Thailand's

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E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV ELAB ETRD SENV PREL TH
SUBJECT: PREPARING FOR SECRETARY LOCKE'S MEETING WITH THAILAND'S
DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMERCE ON THE MARGINS OF APEC

REF: A: BANGKOK 2678 (PRIME MINISTER MEETS WITH ASIA-PACIFIC
AMERICAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE)
B. BANGKOK 2597 (ENVIRONMENTALISTS VERSUS INDUSTRIALISTS)

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FROM AMBASSADOR JOHN TO SECRETARY LOCKE

1. (SBU) I encourage you to make time to meet with Thailand's
Deputy Minister of Commerce, Alongkorn Ponlaboot, on the margins of
APEC. Since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took office in December
2008, I have regularly engaged the Prime Minister and his
administration, including Deputy Minister Alongkorn, on issues of
concern to the U.S. business community. Alongkorn is the face of
Thailand's campaign to improve the protection of intellectual
property rights. He is also an advocate for business-friendly
policies, and someone who I believe will help move our trade
dialogue with Thailand forward. The Deputy Minister hopes you will
be able to meet with him on the afternoon of November 12, if your
schedule permits. The following are key issues with the Thai
government that I hope you may reinforce with Alongkorn during your
meeting.

2. (U) Bio note: Alongkorn ("along gone") is an energetic, rising
star in the Democrat Party, which leads the current coalition
government, and an elected member of Parliament. He is close to,
and influential with, the Prime Minister and in the Thai context is
very supportive of sound business practices and policy. His
influence in the government is greater than his title would
indicate-as the top Democrat at the Ministry of Commerce he controls
many departments of particular concern to us, including IPR
enforcement. He has taken considerable heat for his outspoken
support for IPR enforcement, yet is savvy enough to realize that the
key to IPR in Thailand in the long run is public realization that IP
is important to Thailand's own economic growth. He promotes his
"Creative Economy" campaign with that end in mind. Importantly,
Alongkorn has the reputation within the government as a true
believer in the rule of law and as being personally incorruptible.
He is just the kind of leader we would like to support.

Intellectual Property Rights
----------------------------

- We are very pleased with the increased level of commitment to IPR
enforcement since the arrival into office of the Abhisit
Administration. We especially appreciate the leadership of the Prime
Minister himself in the national IPR Committee. We believe sustained
and effective enforcement needs to be carried out at all levels from
retail, distribution, manufacturing and import.

- I know we share common goals in this regard. Respect for IPR is
important for economic growth, protects public safety, and
demonstrates respect for the rule of law. I understand that you have
promoted the "Creative Thailand" program. I have no doubt that
Thailand's entertainment and creative industries would prosper
greatly once the public understands the importance of IPR.

- High-level attention in improving Thailand's intellectual property
regime is important and we fully understand that enforcement actions
often run into opposition. We appreciate your courage and
determination in this regard. We have heard from our business
community that they are encouraged by your actions. We stand ready
to assist in any way we can, and hope that you can continue to work
with U.S. rights holders.

- The United States would like to work more closely with Thailand in
the coming months to address the full range of IPR issues and we
support the government's "Creative Economy" initiative to support
Thailand's own IP-based industries.

Customs Reforms
---------------

-Allow me to highlight a couple other issues that are of particular
interest to U.S. companies doing business, and thinking of doing
business, in Thailand.

- The first is customs reform. Broadly speaking, our companies
continue to rate customs issues as the main hurdle to doing business
in Thailand.

BANGKOK 00002848 002.2 OF 002

- We are concerned that Thailand has some practices, such as the
penalty sharing regime, which is unique to Thailand and appears to
be in contradiction to the World Customs Organization Kyoto
Protocol.

-We hope that in your government's consideration of Customs Law
reforms, you can take a careful look at your customs practices and
work to bring Thailand's regulations in line with international best
practices. Transparency, predictability, and certainty of customs
treatment of imports, particularly customs valuation, are key in
this regard.

- You are probably familiar with the Amway case. Amway is the
largest importer of American goods in Thailand and has been an
excellent corporate citizen in Thailand for over 28 years and
supports more than 100,000 individual business owners. We appreciate
the indications of help we have received thus far from officials in
your government, and I would like to underscore the importance of
resolving this case in a way that treats Amway fairly and commands
the respect of the international business community


Uncertainties at Map Ta Phut
-----------------------------

- A second issue is the controversy at Map Ta Phut. As a country
that highly values environmental protection and the safety of
workers, we fully understand the concerns that have led the Courts
to suspend new construction.

- Moreover, U.S. companies in that area are proud of their record in
environmental protection and uphold standards that exceed current
requirements.

-If the expansion plans of these companies, Dow Chemical and Star
Petroleum do not get back on track fully, some 10,000 local jobs
will be lost and the companies could incur losses in the tens of
millions of dollars monthly. Moreover, the reputation of Thailand as
a good place to invest could be harmed.

- We hope that your government will work in an expeditious manner to
resolve the uncertainties surrounding investments in Map Ta Phut and
in the neighboring industrial estates.


JOHN

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