An American International Automobile Dealers Assn. delegation is back from Thailand where it traveled last month for a sixth round of negotiations on a proposed free-trade agreement between that country and the U.S.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative invited the delegation to Thailand where it is attempting to increase awareness among Thais of the role international nameplate auto dealers play in trying to repeal a 25% tariff on pickup trucks imported to the U.S.
“Our association was founded nearly four decades ago by VW dealers to specifically lobby against this tariff,” says AIADA Chairman Don Hicks.
The tariff is a holdover from a trade dispute dating to Lyndon Johnson's presidency. It was a retaliatory move against Germany for its treatment of U.S. frozen chicken exports.
In Thailand, AIADA members and staffers met with U.S. and Thai trade negotiators to discuss efforts to repeal the 25% tariff. Thailand is the world's second largest producer of pickup trucks behind the U.S.
“We pledged to the Thai negotiating team to keep working the issue on Capitol Hill,” says Hicks.
The delegation also met with the representatives of Thailand's Board of Trade, Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Industry.
Hicks says the talks were frank.
When a Thai trade official suggested Thais would like to keep their 80% tariff on U.S. vehicles coming into their country yet remove the 25% tariff on light trucks, “we explained to him that the free-trade agreement needed to be a reciprocal agreement and that insisting on keeping their tariffs would make it very difficult for us to make a prima facie case to our elected officials that the agreement was fair,” says Hicks. “Fortunately, his colleagues understood this reality and we moved on from there.”