Thailand Coup Has Little Retail Impact

A military coup in Thailand that disposed its prime minister caused little disruption for retail or manufacturing, but is being watched closely.

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Thaksin, who was in New York on Tuesday to address the U.N. General Assembly when the military toppled his government, has been embroiled in a controversy since January when his family's tax-free sale of a telecommunications company raised allegations of corruption.

A spokesman for the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association said the coup was generally welcomed by business.

"It may actually be better for the economy," the spokesman said. "With Thaksin gone, there will be no hidden agenda."

A U.S.-Thailand trade pact would eliminate tariffs between the two countries, making it more cost-effective to import from Thailand.

"They need a politically stable environment for people to be comfortable sourcing there," said Mark Jaeger, senior vice president and general counsel at Jockey International. "Long term for the apparel business, they need to have better ties with the U.S., including a free trade agreement."

Street and pedestrian traffic in Bangkok was light on Wednesday. The Siam Paragon shopping center hired an additional 100 security guards, a spokesman said. The center opened as usual at 10 a.m. and mall management left it to individual tenants to decide if they would open.

"We made security tighter to make sure everything is on the right track," the spokesman said.

The mall aquarium, Ocean World, was closed, though the department store and food court were open.

The upscale Gaysorn Shopping Center was closed, and management could not be reached for comment.

The U.S. embassy urged Americans in Thailand to "avoid any large gatherings and exercise discretion when moving about the city." The embassy said it's not advising U.S. citizens to leave, but said Americans planning to travel there "may wish to carefully consider their options ... until the situation becomes clearer.

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