In an address to an audience representing the growing US Thai community, he spoke of his government’s success in maintaining stability, introducing new legislation and democratic reforms while pursuing efforts to rebuild the Thai economy asking them to help forge stronger links including those bringing inward investment, between the United States and their country of origin.

Speaking to an audience representing the US Thai community in America at the end of last week, the Thai Prime Minister said that fighting corruption in government was one of his key missions. The PM urged members of the community to help strengthen ties between Thailand and the United States, particularly with regard to his government’s efforts to grow and develop the Thai economy at home. At an earlier meeting, the Prime Minister told US business and political leaders including the leadership of other ASEAN countries, that Thailand sought a deeper and broader relationship under a 3 R strategy standing for reconnecting, rebuilding and rebalancing its economy going forward in partnership with the superpower.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha and US President Joe Biden outside the White House on Thursday as eight ASEAN leaders joined US officials in Washington DC for the first US ASEAN summit to be held in the US capital where a new era in US Asean relations was signalled. The United States committed $150 million to help build and develop infrastructure in the region as well as initiatives to promote sustainable economic engagement. Security and rising tensions with China were also discussed.

On his 2 day visit to Washington DC at the end of last week, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha’s emphasis was on one thing, promoting the development of the Thai economy.

As well as meeting President Biden at the White House where a new era in US Asean relations was proclaimed together with $150 million in infrastructural investment in the region announced by the US administration, the PM also met the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and participated in several events including the opportunity to meet both potential US private sector investors in Thailand and the growing US Thai community in America.

PM addressed business leaders including Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo outlining a three ‘R’ plan for Thai US economic partnership within ASEAN

A statement from Beijing, while it welcomed the US announcement of infrastructural funding, at the same time, called on the United States to desist from creating what it termed ‘confrontation’ in the region. 

On Thursday, at the Willard InterContinental Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Prime Minister made an address to business leaders at an event which was attended by Ms Gina Remondo, the US Secretary of Commerce and Catherine Tai, the key US Trade Representative for the region.

In his speech, General Prayut emphasised what he termed as the 3 ‘R’s in developing the Thai US relationship going forward as he called for deeper cooperation between Thailand and the United States and a broader investment base in the country.

The government leader highlighted Thailand’s growing efforts to develop itself as a hub of EV technology and electric cars to supply the Southeast Asian region as well as advanced industries such as medical equipment as well as AI technology and electronics.

‘Reconnecting’ as Thailand seeks to develop its industrial base and be part of new US supply chains

General Prayut described this as the first R item, standing for Thailand ‘reconnecting’ with the United States to develop its industrial base, especially within the country’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) area, east of Bangkok where the country has opened up a region across four provinces to enhanced infrastructure and connectivity with the wider Indo Pacific region.  

GDP fall for Thailand’s flagship Eastern Economic Corridor project since the COVID-19 crisis began

Despite a drop off in investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) region during the pandemic emergency, Thailand’s economic planners have been pressing ahead with the initiative including the development of advanced air and train connections as well as deepwater port facilities.

This is coming at a time when many US firms are reconsidering and moving their supply chains out of China following a reappraisal of the worldwide global supply system driven by both the pandemic and, increasingly, significant geopolitical tensions with ASEAN countries now being seen as a possible alternative.

At the end of last week, it was acknowledged that rising tensions with China were discussed at the summit as the United States seeks both deeper economic and security cooperation with ASEAN members.

Second R, rebuilding with new supply chains and as a base for firms operating within the digital economy

General Prayut described his second R as a new emphasis on rebuilding the country’s economy after the pandemic emergency and the current international conflict in Ukraine which is being seen as a game-changer by US and western policy makers not only in terms of security measures and alliances but also in terms of economic investment and the strength of future supply chains.

General Prayut highlighted the kingdom’s determination to push the current economy forward toward a digital era.

He said such an economy has the potential to expand to $1 trillion a year in the ASEAN region over the next eight years and Thailand was determined to be part of this.

This would call for the rebuilding of existing communications and infrastructure in terms of cloud computing, something the Thai government would like to see happening in partnership with US-based firms.

This new digital industry, the PM said, will extend to content creation and the development of advanced data centres.

Prayut said he would also like to see start-up concerns and incubation facilities for such ventures to spur growth in the Thai economy also from the bottom up.

Balance between work and life as Thailand moves to an economy which preserves a healthier environment

The third R, according to the Thai premier, stood for ‘rebalance’ and this called for a more balanced work environment in society including a balance between economic growth and efforts to protect and nurture the environment.

He underlined that Thailand sought partnership with US firms with the technology to develop low carbon and clean energy industries in the country.

General Prayut said that Thailand as chair of the forthcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok in November would like to see the participation of the United States in the event to drive this new agenda for the future.

Thai US community has a population of over 316,000

During his visit stateside, the Prime Minister also met representatives of the flourishing US Thai community in America which according to the last US census in 2020, includes over 316 thousand people, many of them living in the Pacific coast state of California.

At the same time, many Thai families work within the US administration and government services with a large population of 21,400 residents in Washington DC as well as the states of Maryland and Virginia.

Speaking to them at the George Washington Room of the St Regis Hotel at the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in the US capital, he, first of all, told them to test the reliability of news that they received on digital media from Thailand.

‘Despite people having different ideas, we must be aware of how reliable the information is that we receive,’ the prime minister said.

PM praised the strength and unity of American Thais as he warned about the reliability of digital news

He then praised the strength and unity of the Thai community in America and said they provide him with hope and support to see the kingdom make progress at this time in partnership with the United States.

He said Thailand has been praised for its approach to the pandemic emergency and was seeking investment and expertise from US firms to develop its economy.

He hoped US Thais would help in supporting the Thai government’s efforts to further modernise and take the economy of their birth country forward. 

He highlighted his government’s achievements in introducing new legislation, maintaining stability and in pushing key economic projects to develop the Thai economy such as the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and other infrastructural development at home.

Working for the Thai people, standing against corruption, Prayut said he is not daunted

Turning to his own position, with heightened speculation of an election or an end to his current term in office, he told his audience that he was confident of his position and his tenure thus far as prime minister.

PM is running out of time and confidence as opposition plots heave against him in June or July

He highlighted his determination to fight corruption in Thailand as a key mission in public office.

‘I’ve set my goal that I will only do it for Thai people and I don’t want anything else’ explained General Prayut. ‘I served the country until my retirement with pride, before taking part in political affairs. I will not fear anything as long as I stand against corruption.’ 

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