March 23,2004

Baucus Applauds Start of U.S.-Thailand FTA Business Coalition

Senator Speaks to Group about Recent Trip to Thailand

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today U.S. Senator Max Baucus shared his support for the launch ofthe U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement Business Coalition. Baucus recently returned to theUnited States after a week- long trade mission in Asia where he met with government officialsand businesses in Japan, China, and Thailand to discuss ways to expand trade opportunities forthe U.S.

While in Thailand, Baucus met with a number of the country's leaders, includingThailand's Prime Minister Thaksin, Foreign Minister Surakiart, and Commerce Minister Watana.Baucus expressed his support for the U.S.-Thailand FTA negotiations, while highlighting theneed for Thailand to address the protection of intellectual property.

Baucus’s comments at the U.S.-Thailand FTA Business Coalition’s event follow:

“I’m delighted to be here today at the launch of the U.S.-Thailand FTA BusinessCoalition. I was just in Thailand last Friday. I met with Prime Minister Thaksin at his office inBangkok. He’s an impressive and engaging person. We had a great conversation and talkedabout many things, including our philosophies on leadership and politics.

I was particularly interested to learn about the Prime Minister’s rural developmentprogram. Thailand is dealing with many of the same problems that we face here in our owncountry. Of course, we also talked about the FTA negotiations. I pushed hard to get theAdministration to negotiate with Thailand.

I have long argued that we should focus our trade policy more on Asia, and that weshould negotiate FTAs with countries that offer able markets for U.S. farmers andcompanies. Thailand fits the bill nicely. Thailand is the eighteenth largest trading partner of theUnited States. And Thailand’s 63 million people make an FTA with Thailand commerciallymeaningful to U.S. companies, in particular for U.S. agricultural producers.

I know I’m preaching to the choir - we are, after all, celebrating the launch of thebusiness coalition that supports the FTA. There are some tough issues to be sure, on both sides.But I hope and expect that we’ll be able to address those issues during the course of thenegotiations, and that - in the not-too-distant future - we will gather again to celebrate thesuccessful conclusion of negotiations.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Congress, my Thai friends, and nowthe U.S.-Thailand FTA Business Coalition on the FTA negotiations.”