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Asean Affairs  13 January 2011

Phony goods still abound in Asean

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     13 January 2011

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As the so-called “high season” of tourism in Asia still has a few months left, it is timely to point out to potential tourists that counterfeit goods can be easily found in most Asian and Asean countries.

When tourists arrive in Asia, they are well aware that many of the products that they purchase in their home countries are made in Asia, especially in China. Therefore, many think that they can purchase these same products at a lower price than in their home countries as they are closer to the manufacturing source.

They conveniently forget or don’t know that brand name owners go to great lengths to protect their brands.

Thus, when they spy a name brand iPhone, iPad cell phone or piece of clothing as they pass by a small shop or street vendor and see an opportunity to purchase a product at an unheard of price, they are easy prey. Perhaps they are even aware that the product might be a fake, but what the heck, what’s to lose at that price.

On Wednesday Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation seized approximately 23,000 counterfeit iPhones, iPads, cell phones and pieces of brand name clothing from five shops in two well-known shopping malls in Bangkok.

The motivations for yesterday’s raids are several.

First, the counterfeit goods are not taxed by the national governments and thus, that government loses out on tax income. Second, when the product turns out to be faulty, the tourist immediately remembers where it was purchased and that leaves the tourist a bad memory of the country where he or she obtained it.

The political pressure brought on Asian countries by the owners of the brand names, who often are in the United States and Europe is also a factor. This is particularly the case in Asean, where several countries, Thailand included, see the easy access to fake goods as a handicap on advancing their national status and a detriment to their reputation.

In short, tourists should enjoy their stay in Asean countries but the best bargains can usually be found in locally produced products rather than fake international brand names.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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