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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                      12  August 2011

Asean speeds up trade liberalization

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Asean members will try to speed up the elimination of trade barriers within the group and with their trading partners to maximise the benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Officials from the 10 Asean members met yesterday with trade ministers from China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada, the US and Russia to discuss cooperation to strengthen ties.

Yanyong Phuangrach, the permanent secretary for the Thai Commerce Ministry, said the 18 countries attending the meeting had a combined population of 3.3 billion and accounted for 43 percent of total global trade.

By joining the meeting, Thailand could expand its exports beyond Asean and find solutions to its labour shortage problem and new sources of raw materials for industries such as fisheries and agriculture.

As for concerns about the competitiveness of Thai products especially rice and maize after the formation of Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, Mr Yanyong insisted that the cooperation would turn trade competitors into partners and avert price wars.

On the liberalisation of trade, the Philippines and Indonesia still want to delay the imports of rice and sugar.

Laos and Cambodia also want Thailand to extend to August the import period of maize which was earlier allowed only within the first half of every year. Thailand produced 4.3 million tonnes of maize last year, of which 430,000 tonnes were exported.

On trade facilitation, Asean agreed to extend the implementation of a pilot project on self-certification of rules of origin until October 2012. Fifty-two exporters from Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore have already participated in the scheme late last year while Thailand will begin the project on Oct 1.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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