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Thai Labor Unrest Warned Against

January 24, 1998

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A U.S. business delegation warned today that more violent labor unrest could stall the foreign investment needed to lift Thailand out of an economic crisis.

The comments were in response to a clash Wednesday between riot police and auto workers protesting a reduction in their annual bonuses. Nearly 60 workers were arrested in the worst labor violence since the Thai economy crashed in mid-1997, triggering Asia’s dramatic financial crisis.

Foreign investors who fueled Asia’s previous boom have been pulling out since the crisis began. The head of visiting team of multinational companies said such protests could prevent them from returning.

``If the unrest continues and gets more serious, I think that would give foreign investors some pause,″ said Ernest Z. Bower, president of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council.

The delegation includes executives of U.S.-based industrial giants Ford, General Motors, General Electric, Goodyear, Guardian Industries, United Parcel Service, OSI International Foods, Telos International Corp. and Tricon Restaurants International.

Bower said American business leaders have been impressed with Thailand’s commitment to implementing austerity measures to invigorate the economy.

The delegation also stopped in Indonesia and Malaysia.

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