World

Trump seeking better trade ties with Thailand

WASHINGTON/BANGKOK: President Donald Trump wants to reduce the US trade deficit with Thailand, he told Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday in a meeting that marked another sign of warming ties between Washington and Bangkok.

Mr Trump, who has sought to improve US trade ties with a variety of countries since taking office, put Thailand in the spotlight when he sat down with Mr Prayuth in the Oval Office.

"Our relationship on trade is becoming more important and it's a great country to trade with," Mr Trump told the Thai leader in front of reporters.

"I think we're going to try to sell a little bit more to you, if that's possible."

The US Trade Representative's office reported that the US trade deficit with Thailand was US$18.9 billion (S$26 billion) last year, the 11th largest faced by the US.

The meeting was a sign of improved ties between the US and Thailand after the relationship cooled when the Thai military took power in a 2014 coup.

Human rights groups had strongly opposed the meeting, seeing it as a reward for an authoritarian leader who has cracked down on opposition and rolled back democratic freedoms. - REUTERS

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