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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        13  January 2011

Thai government tries to prevent EU ban

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The Thai government will immediately conduct quality inspections on all shipments of 16 vegetables that face a possible ban from the European Union to ensure there will be no exports of insect-contaminated fresh produce.

The inspection is to guard against pest infestation in the face of a threatened ban by the EU. Kiat Sittheeamorn, president of the Thailand Trade Representative, proposed the measure yesterday to David Lipman, the EU Ambassador to Thailand.

The Thai government also proposed the EU send its officials to work with Thai agencies on quality control procedures. Thailand has inspected 50 percent of its exported produce since September, more stringent than the normal 10 percent sampling.

The EU Commission is scheduled to consider Thailand's proposal at the end of this month. The 16 vegetables fall into five categories, including varieties of basil, chilies and capsicum peppers, eggplants, bitter gourds and parsley. The exports of these products to the EU have grown rapidly in recent years due to the rising popularity of Thai food.

Thailand said it would suspend exports of the 16 vegetables as of February 1 as a pre-emptive move to avoid a formal EU ban, which would take longer to lift.

EU food safety authorities said inspectors had found whiteflies, thrips and leaf miners on some of the vegetables and that a ban would be applied if nothing was done by January 15, when food safety authorities will meet in Brussels.

Thailand does not want its vegetable exports to become an obstacle to its total exports worth 18 billion to the EU, or to the negotiations of a Thailand-EU free trade agreement, which awaits cabinet approval.

Mr. Lipman said the EU welcomed the chance to work with the Thai government.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
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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.

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