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Update November, 2019


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Thai court orders park chief arrested in activist's murder

An undated photo of Billy provided by his wife Phinnapa Prueksaphan. (AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court on Monday issued arrest warrants for the former head of a major national park and three park employees accused of killing an ethnic Karen environmental activist.

The Department of Special Investigation announced that a special court for state officials approved the warrants in the case of Porlajee Rakchongcharoen, who was last seen in the custody of Kaeng Krachan National Park officials in western Thailand in April 2014.The four face several related charges as well, including holding a person against his will, robbery and concealing a corpse.

Porlajee, also known as Billy, had led the Karen community in a lawsuit against park chief Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn over his efforts to evict them by burning their homes inside the park — where they had lived for generations — along with their possessions.

Chaiwat claimed Porlajee had been arrested for illegally collecting wild honey and had been released with a warning before disappearing.

Porlajee's burnt remains were discovered this year in an oil drum sunk in a reservoir and were identified by DNA tests. Until then, his disappearance was treated by the authorities as a missing person case.

The Bangkok Post newspaper reported Monday that Chaiwat, who now heads a conservation area in Thailand's northeast, said he had not seen the warrant but was not worried and would not try to escape. He has consistently maintained his innocence.

The case has been on a list compiled by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights of 82 victims of forced disappearance in Thailand since the 1980s, which includes activists critical of state policy or officials.

"None of these cases have been resolved, and no one has been prosecuted," the New York-based group Human Rights Watch noted on Aug. 30, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. "A key reason for this is that Thailand's penal code does not recognize enforced disappearance as a criminal offense. Thailand has signed but has yet to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance."

Porlajee, who was 30 years old when he disappeared, is survived by his wife, Phinnapha Phrueksaphan, and their five children.


PM Prayut visits Ratchaburi, says government works for all people

PM Prayuth Chan-ocha in Ratchaburi.

RATCHABURI (NNT) - Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, has insisted that the government is committed to resolving all problems, and people in all provinces must benefit from this democratically-elected government.

The Prime Minister together with a group of officials visited Ratchaburi province on Monday (Nov 11) to inspect the work being carried out by government agencies. During his visit, Gen. Prayut said he is a democratically-elected premier, who received the majority of votes from Members of Parliament and Senators. He said the MPs represent the people in their areas and there are no divisions among them. Policies of all political parties can be presented to the government. If they are in line with the government’s policies, they will be implemented and the local people will benefit from them in the end.

The Prime Minister visited the Ratchaburi Provincial Adminsitrative Organization to witness the Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, presenting certificates of permission to the provincial governor. The certificates will allow local communities to earn a living on particular plots of land. Gen. Prayut then proceeded to Damnoen Saduak district to observe the progress of a canal development project and the marine tourism development project, aimed at promoting the agricultural way of life and the local culture. He then traveled from Chottayakaram temple to Lao Tak Lak Floating Market to meet with the local people.

The Prime Minister also visited the Nongpho Ratchaburi Dairy Cooperative under Royal Patronage to meet with dairy farmers and check out One Tambon One Product (OTOP) goods.

The Prime Minister then proceeded to Kanchanaburi province to observe a project to regulate the rafts along the Kwai River and to open a new community housing project. Before leaving Kanchanaburi tonight, Gen. Prayut is visiting a paper mill, that’s being developed into a cultural conservation and historical area for tourism. He then joined local residents in launching a floating basket into the water at Kanchanaburi Pier to celebrate the annual Loy Krathong festival.


TAT launches "Travel Thailand with 100 Baht’’ and "Shocking Prices on Weekdays"

 

Travel Thailand with 100 baht campaign.

BANGKOK (NNT) - Campaigns to stimulate the domestic economy and tourism were launched today - Monday (Nov 11). They follow the government’s Chim, Shop, Chai (Taste, Shop, Use) campaign which has been very well received by the general public. The campaign has put tens of billions of baht into the economy.

Meanwhile. the government has launched the second phase of the Chim, Shop, Chai campaign to further stimulate the Thai economy in the final months of the year, while the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has introduced the "Time to Tour Thailand" project, which has two campaigns to boost tourism spending. They are "Travel Thailand with 100 Baht’’ and "Shocking Prices on Weekdays"

The "Travel Thailand with 100 Baht’’ campaign covers five product categories: accommodation, airlines, spa services, entertainment venues and tour packages. The campaign offers 40,000 products and services at the price of 100 baht each. People can register with the campaign on November 11 and 12 and December 11 and 12, at www.tourismthailand.org or www.ร้อยเดียวเที่ยวทั่วไทย.com, from 6 a.m. to midnight. The quota is capped at 10,000 applicants per day. Today, the first day of registration, the 10,000-member quota was reached at 6:32 a.m.

The "Shocking Prices on Weekdays"campaign offers products and services compliant with international standards at prices discounted by up to 80%. The campaign covers nine product categories. They are accommodation, airline travel, shopping malls, spa services, hospitals, restaurants, jewelry stores, amusement parks and tourism services. People can register with the campaign at www.tourismthailand.org or www.ร้อยเดียวเที่ยวทั่วไทย.com until December 31 this year. After registration, applicants are required to select one of the nine categories and they will receive a coupon. Their privileges will be revoked, if they fail to use the coupon within five days as required.

The "Time to Tour Thailand" project is intended to encourage people with spending power to spend money on travel experiences, such as accommodation and spa services, by the end of the year. The project is expected to inject 400 million baht into the economy and raise tourism revenue to 3.1 trillion baht this year.


Dusit Poll: Thais view Asean Summit as beneficial to Thailand

A majority of Thais give thumbs up to the ASEAN summit held in Thailand recently

BANGKOK (NNT) - A majority of Thai people think Thailand has benefited from the 35th Asean Summit, according to a survey by Suan Dusit Poll.

The poll was conducted between November 6-9, 2019, on 1,159 people throughout the country to collate their opinions on the Summit.

Asked about their overall level of interest in the Summit, 41.24 percent of the respondents said they were fairly interested while 21.23 percent were very interested. On the other hand, 24.16 percent were not particularly interested, saying that Thailand had hosted several Summits before, while 13.37 percent said they paid no attention to it at all.

Asked how impressed they were by the Summit, 46.98 percent said Thailand’s hosting of it was successful, since it was free of any untoward incidents. The rest of them said several important political and economic agreements were signed and that the attendance by delegates from many countries had helped promote mutual good relations in the Asean region.

However, 49.12 percent of the respondents said they worried that the agreements made would not actually be implemented. The rest of them raised concerns that Thailand might be left at a disadvantage in some of the agreements and said they had worried there would be rallies or protests during the Summit.

Asked whether Thailand had benefited from the Summit, 44.35 percent said "yes", such as from the promotion of its image, while some of them said it had tightened relations with other countries as the Summit served as a forum promoting competitiveness. On the other hand, 19.41 percent said Thailand derived little benefit from the Summit, saying that past Summits it had hosted were slow to produce results, while 10.44 percent said Thailand did not benefit from it at all.

Asked about concrete achievements made during the Summit, 60.67 percent said several agreements on cooperation were signed to strive for economic improvements. The rest of them said that foreign news media covering the Summit had helped disseminate the Thai identity and that the Summit allowed leaders of various countries to outline their vision.


Many provinces hold cultural events to preserve Loy Krathong tradition

A beautiful lamp lighting ceremony in Chiang Mai.

THAILAND (NNT) - Many provinces are now finalizing their Loy Krathong events. In Chiang Mai, one activity “Tam Phang Patitn Song Fa Hagsa Muang" has again been arranged to preserve Thai culture.

The "Tam Phang Patit Song Fa Fah Haksa Muang" activity is held at the city’s Three Kings Monument in order to worship the Lord Buddha and mark the arrival of the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai. The event also features a Phang Patit dance performance by over 900 dancers. More than 50,000 lanterns are lit at night during the festival. People in Chiang Mai can participate in the activity every evening until November 12, 2019.

In Chanthaburi, Governor Withuraj Srinam led people this weekend to attend a volunteer activity to cleanup the Chanthaburi river from Chanthanaram Temple Pier to the Shrine of Sa Bap God and Tri Rat Bridge. Meanwhile, the volunteers also collected waste, eliminated weeds and improve the landscape along a canal to accommodate the public and tourists during the Loy Krathong Festival at Chanthanaram Temple.

In Khon Kaen, people in the Nong Yai community, Khon Kaen Municipality, have created Krathong baskets from natural materials available in the community for sale at the Loy Krathong Festival 2019 at Nong Yai Pond on the night of November 11, 2019, priced from 10 - 50 baht. They have been selling Krathong baskets for many years and earn more than 50,000 baht per year from the sale of their self-made Krathong baskets. The proceeds are donated to Siriwanna Wanaram Temple.


Ministry of Commerce to suppress illegal copyright agents

Deputy Commerce Minister Weerasak Wangsuphakijkosol, speaks to the 15-year-old girl student who was falsely accused of copyright piracy.

Nakhon Ratchasima (NNT) - Deputy Commerce Minister Weerasak Wangsuphakijkosol, has visited Nakhon Ratchasima province and met with the 15-year-old girl student who had made a Krathong vessel in the style of Rilakkuma bear and was falsely accused of copyright piracy. He pledged to suppress the activities of illegal copyright agents and extortionists.

The deputy commerce minister said he had been informed of the event in which the girl had been falsely charged with the piracy of the copyrighted cartoon character and visited the innocent girl who had been intimidated by an alleged extortionist; he offered her moral support. Mr Wirasak who is in charge of the Department of Intellectual Property said the event will become a case study so that legal loopholes are plugged, to keep illegal copyright agents from extorting money from innocent people.

The Department of Intellectual Property has been instructed to take prompt action to deal with such ’copyright agents’ and issue a clarification of copyrighted cartoon characters to prevent unlawful arrests. The deputy commerce minister said no children or youths should be faced with such legal action, when they are desperate to help their family make a little extra income. He said adults should encourage children to make Krathong vessels with original cartoon characters or products.


DPM Jurin holds talks with rice traders from United States

DPM Jurin holds talks with US rice traders.

UNITED STATES (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit has held talks with major Thai rice traders from the United States on the rice quality standards and plans to increase the volume of the premium export rice.

The commerce minister and executive officials of the Ministry of Commerce discussed market obstacles to the planned increase in the rice export volume. Mr Jurin said some 500,000 tons of Thai rice is exported to the United States per a year. Notably, the volume of Home Mali rice exported to the U.S. market has increased 4.92% over the last five years.

Trade fairs have been held by rice importers and leading U.S. supermarkets to promote Hom Mali rice from Thailand. The Thai rice has been publicized by culinary institutes and Thai restaurants and has had access to consumer groups in the United States. The publicity for the Thai rice has been carried out on social media.

’’The Thai government has addressed all levels of traders, particularly those who have imported rice and food from Thailand for a long time. The Ministry of Commerce remains prepared to work closely with every rice trader and hopes to welcome them. We will focus on the marketing and proactive publicity to promote the consumption of premium quality rice from Thailand,’’ Mr Jurin said.


Transport Minister inspects highway project in Buri Ram

 

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob speaks to the residents of Buriram.

Buri Ram (NNT) - Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, has visited Buri Ram province and is following up on the Highway 226 project to improve road surfaces and install a lighting system in preparation for the Buri Ram Marathon 2020.

The Highway Department’s Office 10 reported progress in the project to the Transport Minister, specifically measures to solve traffic congestion due to the construction of the Bang Pa-in - Saraburi - Nakhon Ratchasima special highway in the area of Khlong Phai prison. All repaired roads will be fully open to normal traffic by the end of this month.

The Rural Roads Department also outlined progress in the trial use of rubber-coated barriers, expected to be finished by the middle of next month. Then, rubber-coated barriers will be put into trial-use in a foreign country, for further testing.

The Transport Minister also inspected the Highway 226 project at the Rakar intersection in Krasang district of Buri Ram which is designed to solve traffic congestion, provide safety for motorists, reduce the number of road accidents, save on traveling costs and accommodate the economic, logistical and tourism development of the northeastern region.

The Transport Minister also studied progress in the project to improve road surfaces and install a lighting system within a 19 million baht budget. It is designed to illuminate the Buri Ram Marathon 2020 scheduled on February 8 and February 9.


151 flights postponed or cancelled for sky lantern festival in Chiang Mai

Thousands of sky lanterns during the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai.

CHIANG MAI (NNT) - The annual Loy Krathong festival will take place on November 11th, while the Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai province will be celebrated between November 10 and 12. As many revellers launch floating lanterns into the night sky during this festive period, Chiang Mai International Airport has issued an announcement on flight cancellations and schedule changes for safety reasons.

The Deputy Director of Chiang Mai International Airport, Flg. Off. Thananrat Prasertsri, said the airport has asked government agencies, private firms and local administrative organizations for cooperation by following Section 33 of the Thailand Air Navigation Act and the safety guidelines regarding the launch of floating lanterns during the Loy Krathong festival. People are not allowed to play with fireworks and launch floating lanterns or similar objects near the airport because they may interfere with the aircraft navigation.

Flg. Off. Thananrat said a total of 151 flights have been rescheduled or cancelled. Sixty-six domestic flights and 30 international flights have been cancelled, and 41 domestic and 14 international flights have been rescheduled. Passengers will not be unduly inconvenienced as flight operators have notified them in advance about the situation.

According to a survey, conducted by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s (UTCC) Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, consumer spending will be less active during the Loy Krathong festival for the second consecutive year. Spending is expected to decrease from 9.69 billion baht to 9.57 billion baht, down by 1.3%, due to cautious sentiments over the global economy.

The survey also showed that 62.5% of the respondents still plan to float their krathong baskets this year to preserve the traditional way of life.


Cultural performances at exhibition on royal barge procession

BANGKOK (NNT) - An exhibition on the royal barge procession in Sanam Luang, Bangkok, is providing visitors with a memorable experience. Among the highlights are royal barge replicas presented by the Royal Thai Navy, cultural performances and the chanting of boat songs.

Elegant tribal dances performed by the Tai, Pulao and Taiyor tribes from Kalasin province captured the attention of thousands of visitors at the exhibition in Sanam Luang. The graceful performance symbolizes the unity of the Thai people regardless of their race.

The event also features the chanting of boat songs and an exhibit featuring replicas of the four royal barges: the Suphannahong Royal Barge, the Narai Song Suban His Majesty King Rama IX Royal Barge, the Anantanakharaj Royal Barge and the Anekchartphuchong Royal Barge. Documentaries about His Majesty the King’s royal duties, the country’s important ceremonies and the Thai way of life are enhanced with light and sound effects.

Tonight, one of the highlights will be a khon masked dance inspired by an excerpt of the Hindu epic, Ramayana. The show will involve more than 100 performers from the Office of Performing Arts under the Department of Fine Arts.

The exhibition is open to the public until November 11, 2019, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., at Sanam Luang, Bangkok. Cultural performances and a demonstration of the royal barge procession will start at 6:30 p.m. Today’s highlights include a show to honor His Majesty the King and a play inspired by Inao from the Panji Romance of Java, Indonesia. Admission to the event is free.


Bank of Thailand lowers policy rate to 1.25% in bid to boost economy

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - Due to the lower-than-expected performance of the economy, slowdowns in the export sector affected by trade wars, which pose consequences for domestic employment and consumption, the Monetary Policy Committee have agreed to reduce the policy rate by 0.25 percent to 1.25 percent to help boost the economy.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has agreed by 5 to 2 votes to lower the country’s policy rate by 0.25 percent, to the lowest rate in recent history. The decision was made due to lower than expected economic growth and a struggling export sector, which affect domestic employment and demand. These factors have prompted the MPC to review and amend economic projections at their December meeting.

The committee says its decision to reduce the policy rate, effective immediately, is a more relaxed monetary policy which will help promote economic expansion and push the inflation rate to reach the target. The committee will be following up on the outcomes of the government’s economic stimulation measures and expenditures, investments in key infrastructure projects and their continued effects on private investments.

Thailand’s export sector is also suffering from an appreciating Thai Baht currency, which is the strongest compared to other currencies in the region. The Bank of Thailand has today announced amendments in capital transfer regulations to allow more outgoing cash flow, relieving pressure on the currency.

The new regulations will be effective on 8 November 2019. They will allow exporters generating less than 200,000 US dollar per single export permit to deposit their money abroad for an unlimited period, allow individual investors to invest in foreign assets by themselves at up to 200,000 US dollar per year, allow more outgoing international money transfers, except for a few restricted categories, allow transfers for foreign real estate purchases at up to 50 million US dollar per year, waive documentation requirements for international transfers up to 200,000 US dollars per transaction, and allow Thai clients investing in gold with authorized brokers to make purchases using foreign currencies.


Bangkok, Sukhothai latest additions to UNESCO’s Creative City Network

BANGKOK (NNT) - The UNESCO has selected Bangkok and Sukhothai as two new Creative Cities, while the PM has asked the Ministry of Interior to address complaints by the general public affected by hawker regulations.

Government Spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said, after the Cabinet meeting, that the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has informed the Cabinet in about the selection of Bangkok and Sukhothai by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as two of 66 new additions to the Creative City Network, with Bangkok approved as a Design City, and Sukhothai as a Crafts and Folk Arts City.

The Prime Minister ordered the Ministry of Interior, responsible for the regulation of hawkers, to address complaints made by the general public affected by the regulations. The ministry is now tasked with regulating the street sales while providing approved retail spaces to the general public within this month.

At this meeting, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Warawut Silpa-archa proposed that members of the Cabinet, who will be travelling to Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi on 11-12 November for a mobile Cabinet meeting on Loy Krathong Day, only use a single Krathong for the entire Cabinet to help reduce waste and pollution.


Marine Department issues guidelines for boat operators ahead of Loy Krathong

BANGKOK (NNT)-With the annual Loy Krathong festival just a few days away, relevant agencies have prepared safety measures and areas for revellers to release their floating baskets into the water more conveniently. The Marine Department has issued navigation guidelines for boat operators and will temporarily close eight piers in Bangkok for safety reasons.

The Deputy Minister of Transport, Athirat Rattanaset, has instructed the Marine Department to oversee boat and pier operations ahead of the Loy Krathong festival. On November 11, large vessels, cargo ships and oil tankers will not be allowed to navigate along a section of the Chao Phraya River, between the Rama VII and Rama IX Bridges, from 4 p.m. to midnight. However, the restriction will not be imposed on public boats, such as express boats and ferries. Boat skippers have been urged to navigate their vessels slowly.

After inspecting 204 piers in the city, the department announced that eight piers will be temporarily closed for safety reasons. They include Daeng, Rajini, Santa Cruz, Chow Sue Kong Shrine, Si Phraya, Sathorn, Vorachanyawas Temple and Customs Department piers.

The Government Public Relations Department (PRD) is organizing an annual event to celebrate the Loy Krathong festival and preserve Thai culture. The event is being held at the PRD head office from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the official opening to commence at 4 p.m.

The event features traditional Loy Krathong activities, shops selling Thai food and products, a PRD concert and musical performances by award-winning artists, such as Jack Thanapon, Duangjan Suwannee and Bew Pongpipat. The event also provides a fairground with a Ferris wheel, a wind house and carousels for children.


Minister Tewan on Buddhism promotion mission in southern border provinces

 

PATTANI (NNT) - Prime Minister’s Office Minister Tewan Liptapallop today visited Pattani to hear problems faced by Buddhist monks in the area, delivering a message of care and support from the Prime Minister to villagers.

Tewan Liptapallop today visited Buddhist temples in Pattani, starting at Wat Chang Hai Temple, where he paid his respects to the portrait of Luang Pu Tuad, a monk revered by villagers in Khuan Nori subdistrict, and then paid his respects to Abbot Phra Suthara Pariyattiwithan, to whom he has stressed the government’s objective to protect Buddhist monks in southern border provinces who serve as the center of faith among local Buddhist communities.

He then traveled to Wat Mujalinthavapi Viharn Temple, also known as Wat Tuyong, which is the main temple of Nong Jik district. He paid his respects to Abbot Phra Suthi Samanawat, and to the portrait of the former abbot in the monastery.

On this occasion, the PMO Minister met with villagers, where he conveyed the Prime Minister’s message of moral support to local communities, and gathered input on obstacles faced by villagers to report back to the Prime Minister, promising that the government will continue to provide help and will work to achieve peace in the deep south.

As the supervisor of the National Office of Buddhism, the PMO Minister said he has ordered the allocation of funds to temples in southern border provinces to promote learning of Buddhist teachings, and other engaging activities in the temples.


Suspected rebels kill 15 at southern Thailand security posts

Police secure the road leading to a shooting scene in Yala province, Thailand, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. Gunmen fired at security personnel at checkpoints in Thailand's insurgency-wracked south, killing 15 volunteer officers and wounding five others, police said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Sumeth Panpetch)

By SUMETH PANPETCH Associated Press

YALA, Thailand (AP) — Gunmen in insurgency-wracked southern Thailand killed 15 village defense volunteers and wounded five security personnel in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on government forces since the separatist rebellion began 15 years ago.

Blood-stained clothing found at the scene suggested that some of the attackers on two checkpoints in Yala province late Tuesday night also may have been wounded in exchanges of gunfire, said army spokesman Col. Kiattisak Neewong. He said four of the slain officers were women and one was a doctor.

In what appeared to be coordinated actions, nails were scattered on a highway to disable vehicles entering Yala, a small explosive device was found placed near an electrical pole to knock out power, and several burning tires were left at a school, said Col. Thaweesak Thongsongsi, a Yala police superintendent.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Wednesday the attack may show the insurgents are switching their focus from attacking soldiers and police to the volunteers, who are lightly armed soft targets. He said plans would have to be drawn up to better protect them.

Thailand's volunteer forces in the south are raised from villages and receive weapons training from the army but no salary. They are usually issued shotguns but often carry personal handguns, and only guard their own villages rather than seek to confront the insurgents.

More than 7,000 people have been killed since the insurgency erupted in 2004 in Thailand's three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the Buddhist-dominant country. Muslim residents have long charged that they are treated like second-class citizens, and separatist movements have been periodically active for decades. Heavy-handed crackdowns have fueled the discontent.

Police, teachers and other government representatives have often been targeted, along with Muslim residents seen as siding with the government. Buddhist monks have also been attacked. The fragmented insurgent groups have focused on vague separatist demands and have not been linked to jihadi movements.

The Thai government has been holding on-again, off-again talks with insurgents brokered by neighboring Malaysia, but factionalism among the network of rebel groups along with a disinclination by Thailand to offer any substantial concessions have stymied progress toward peace. Prayuth suggested the attacks could be meant to influence the peace talks.

Most insurgents appear to be linked to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional — BRN — the most influential of the separatist groups, though local members operate with some autonomy. Generally, they stage hit-and-run attacks, such as drive-by shootings and ambushes with roadside bombs. They are also known for occasional coordinated attacks when seeking to make a political point with a show of strength.

Don Pathan, a security analyst closely watching the conflict, said the militants don't usually attack the Village Defense Volunteers, but if those units start taking an active role in chasing the insurgents, the situation could change. 


DPM Jurin joins CIIE 2019 opening in China

Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit

NNT

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce has put on his salesman’s cap, leading executives from the Ministry of Commerce to attend the China International Import Expo 2019 in Shanghai, the opening ceremony of which was presided over by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

46 Thai businesses have been taken, by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), to this exposition, which is taking place on 5 and 6 November. 7 of the group are lifestyle product suppliers, 15 jewelry and accessory manufacturers, 16 food and farm product manufacturers, 1 business service provider, 5 medical and health product manufacturers and 1 tourism company. It is expected these businesses will win a total of 2 billion baht in sales, after the 1.921 billion last year won by 63 participating Thai companies.

Minister of Commerce Jurin Laksanawisit said he will take this opportunity to visit a Hema store, an internet powered Chinese "new retail" supermarket chain and Alibaba’s step into main street retailing. Hema offers fully digital offline and online retailing, with some 20,000 products from about 2,000 brands, which can be traced and tracked using a comprehensive search system.

He said he will be looking for market opportunities for more Thai products to be sold by Hema stores in the future, and will be holding talks with high-level executives from Alibaba to discuss cooperation to promote Thai SMEs, Thai export farm products, such as rubber, tapioca, oil palm, rice, fruit and other key products, through Alibaba’s platforms, holding marketing campaigns promoting Thai products and tourism among Chinese consumers and enhancing technological and knowledge transfer programs to help facilitate Thai businesses and generate more income for Thai farmers.


DPM convinces investors strong Thai baht provides investment opportunities

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak delivering his Thailand 2020 speech.

BANGKOK (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has urged investors to make their investments during the present appreciation of Thai currency, boosting confidence among international investors looking to invest in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, has delivered his Thailand 2020 speech, in which he said the trade war between China and the U.S. is still generating uncertainties, plus increased risks in the global economy, and should prompt Thailand to make more effort to attract foreign investments, especially in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) where the government has pursued several major projects including the Don Muang - Suvarnabhumi - U Tapao Airports Connector high speed railway; the Laem Chabang Port Phase 3 development, and Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate Phase 3 development, to promote investment.

He said the country must focus on technological advancement and security, through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP) and in the Indo-Pacific region which covers some 30 countries.

The DPM admitted the economic performance in Q1-2 this year has receded from the previous year, with GDP dropping from 4.8 to 2.8 percent, which is partly a result of the delay in forming an elected government, as well as the trade war which affects Thailand’s export sector. He said the Q3-4 performance and next year, should see the Thai economy perform better than the current growth estimate of 2.9 percent thanks to the government’s economic stimulating measures, thus Thai investors should make their investments during the present period of a strong Thai Baht. He also assured the forum that the 2020 economy will recover better than current estimates.

The DPM also mentioned that the government gives a high priority to the introduction of a 5G mobile network, aiming to be the first country to adopt the new cellular technology in ASEAN, with the auction date set for February 2020 at the earliest, or March 2020 at the latest.


Revenue Department promotes e-Tax platform

NNT

The Revenue Department has opened a symposium promoting the electronic tax filing system supporting digital transactions, recently introduced to help drive Thailand towards a fully-digital economy.

The Revenue Department has joined forces with the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, the Ministry of a Digital Economy and Society, and ARIP, to hold the Thailand e-Tax Symposium 2019 promoting the e-Tax filing system.

At the symposium, the Revenue Department’s technology and communications consultant Kanittha Sahamethapat, gave a special lecture on integration of the e-Tax system for business, saying that the department is a government agency that aims to help private firms efficiently adapt their operations to the digital economy, helping increase their potential and competitiveness.

She said the e-Tax platform has been developed to facilitate modern businesses, and promote seamless business cooperation between the government and private sector.

The symposium also featured other lectures and seminars regarding e-Tax invoicing to promote broader adoption of the system, as well as speeches on e-Tax standards promoting electronic capability, e-Tax as a tool for digital advantage by companies, case studies on e-Tax benefits, and e-Tax invoicing development in the age of digital trade and finance. The Revenue Department also set up booths to provide guidance and advice on e-Tax adoption by companies, which received good feedback from participants.


PM Prayut warns people against copyright protection scams

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has warned people not to infringe copyright protection regulations, after a 15-year-old girl was recently fined 5,000 baht for making floating baskets, ordered by undercover copyright police, featuring copyrighted cartoon characters.

Speaking of the 15-year-old girl’s case, the Prime Minister said investigators will have to see whether it was actually a sting operation or a copyright scam. A sting operation is conducted to gather evidence or identify witnesses. However, law enforcers must not entrap people into violating the law.

The Prime Minister said the Department of Intellectual Property has clarified that the girl had been extorted. He instructed the Department of Intellectual Property, the Royal Thai Police and relevant agencies to carry out their work more transparently. Some victims may not take the proper precautions. Therefore, people should understand the law more thoroughly. At present, there are many types of frauds and scams online, such as Ponzi schemes. He warned the general public to be cautious, and there are laws in the country to help prevent such illegal practices.

Gen. Prayut also called on website and social media developers to check the news and information to prevent the dissemination of fake news, as they have caused problems and affected the country’s progress.

The Deputy Director-General of the Department of Intellectual Property, Nusara Kanjanakul, said her agency is now collecting evidence relating to the 15-year-old girl’s case and will summon everyone involved for questioning. If the copyright holder ordered the girl to make the cartoon-character floating baskets, the girl is not guilty since it was not her intention to violate the copyright law. The girl is entitled to take legal action if extortion was involved. The official warned that copyright holders or their representatives should not use legal loopholes to take advantage of others.


China-led Asian trade bloc pushes ahead as India drops out

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pose for a group photo at The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

NONTHABURI, Thailand (AP) — A 16-nation trade initiative backed by China is pushing ahead as India, facing fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, has dropped out.

Leaders of countries involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership said Monday that they had resolved differences, but India said it was out. Seven years after talks began, the signing of a final deal was pushed back to next year.

India has balked at exposing its farmers and factories to more foreign competition, especially from China. It decided not to join the initiative because of an "inadequate protection against import surge," among a list of reasons the foreign ministry circulated after leaders met.

"India had significant issues of core interest that remain unresolved," Ministry of External Affairs East Secretary Vijay Thakur Singh said at a news conference late Monday.

She said the agreement was not "fair and balanced," and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi worried that it would pinch India's most vulnerable people.

The other RCEP members include the 10 nations belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

It does not include the United States, despite America's $1.9 trillion in trade with the region.

For years, world manufacturers have been boosting investment in and trade with Southeast Asia, a fast-growing and increasingly affluent market of 650 million people.

That trend has accelerated amid feuding between the U.S. and China over trade and technology, which has ramped up uncertainty as the two largest economies imposed billions of dollars' worth of punitive tariffs on each other's exports.

RCEP originally would have included about 3.6 billion people and encompassed about a third of world trade and global GDP.

"RCEP will significantly boost the region's future growth prospects and contribute positively to the global economy," said a statement issued after leaders met.

Many countries in Asia have forged free trade agreements in and outside the region, including a rival Pacific Rim trade initiative originally championed by the U.S., the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Eleven countries remain in that pact after President Donald Trump pulled out shortly after taking office. It does not include China.

India has lagged many countries in the region in opening its markets, and groups associated with the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party have staged scores of protests against participating in RCEP.

Among other concerns, Indian dairy farmers are worried about competition from New Zealand and Australian milk and cheese producers. Automakers fear imports from across the region. But overall the biggest fear is over a flood of manufactured goods from China.


US woos Asia with plan to rival China's 'Belt and Road'

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, left, shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang, right, as U.S. National Security advisor Robert O'Brien watches during a bilateral meeting in Bangkok, Thailand Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, on the sidelines of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit. (Romeo Gacad/Pool Photo via AP)

By ELAINE KURTENBACH

BANGKOK (AP) — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday the U.S. will invest and trade more in Asia as it rolls out an American plan to support "sustainable" projects in Asia as a counterpoint to China's multibillion-dollar "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative.

Ross is leading a high-powered trade mission in Asia and along with national security adviser Robert O'Brien attended meetings at a regional summit that wrapped up Monday on the outskirts of Thailand's capital.

Like O'Brien, he sought to dispel suspicions that President Donald Trump's administration is disengaging with the region, a sentiment that deepened when Trump sent his adviser to the annual summit, skipping it for a second straight year in order to campaign.

"We have no intention of vacating our military or geopolitical position," Ross told reporters in a conference call.

He said many people had misinterpreted Trump's 2017 U.S. decision to pull out of a regional trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as a sign of waning interest.

"We are here permanently, and we will be continuing to invest more here, and we will be continuing to have more bilateral trade, and I'm spending much more time in the region," Ross said.

To illustrate that commitment, U.S. officials launched the Trump administration's "Blue Dot Network" on Monday at a high-powered business conference attended by 1,000 people, including more than 200 American business executives.

The plan's name is a reference to the late scientist Carl Sagan's book "Pale Blue Dot" and the photo of Earth taken by Voyager 1 from more than 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) away.

Speaking on the same day the U.S. formally withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, Ross said the Blue Dot Network was in its early stages but that it will include countries committed to "sustainable infrastructure development." Earlier, O'Brien told reporters it was akin to a "Michelin Guide" for rating investment projects in infrastructure — the roads, ports and energy systems that keep economies and communities running.

It's unclear exactly what sort of investment commitments would come of the initiative, described by the U.S. government as an alliance of governments including Australia and Japan, companies and civil society "under shared standards" that would provide a "globally recognized seal of approval."

At the business forum in Bangkok, Japan and the U.S. signed a statement pledging to coordinate on $10 billion in Japanese investment in liquefied natural gas projects. Other plans include an agreement to work with the Asian Development Bank in arranging up to $7 billion in financing in other Asian energy projects.

O'Brien said the initiative would counter the trend toward what he said were projects that were not "high quality" that had led countries into debt traps — alluding to complaints by the U.S. that the vast network of Chinese-backed projects under the "Belt and Road" are undermining the sovereignty and financial stability of the countries involved.

But it's part of the Trump administration's foreign policy vision focused on what it calls a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific," laid out when the president traveled to a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, Philippines, two years ago that he ended up leaving early.

According to U.S. government figures, trade with the region topped $1.9 trillion in 2018 and helped support more than 3 million U.S. jobs.

The business delegation led by Ross includes AES Corporation, Baxter International, Bechtel, Bell Textron, Boeing, Capstone Turbine Company, Cheniere Energy, Citi, Honeywell International, LNG Limited/Magnolia LNG, Lockheed Martin, Qualcomm, Securiport, Sierra Nevada, Tellurian, Tesla and Varian Medical Systems. It was due to travel on to Indonesia and Vietnam after Thailand.

As Ross was talking up U.S. trade and investment in the region, saying of Australia, "We'd be delighted to sell more military aircraft if that suits your department of defense," China opened a lavish import expo Tuesday in Shanghai showcasing its own eagerness to do business.

President Xi Jinping vowed to open Chinese markets further, clinking wine glasses with French President Emmanuel Macron, who urged that Beijing and Washington end the trade war that is clouding an already murky global economic outlook.

Xi said Beijing was willing to speed up talks on various free trade deals and investment agreements and "happy to conclude high-standard free trade agreements with more countries." He also promised to gradually improve conditions for foreign investment.

The summit meetings in Bangkok made halting progress on a sweeping free trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, that is seen by many as a rival to the Pacific Rim accord rejected by Trump.

Fifteen of the 16 countries involved said they were prepared to push ahead with that China-backed plan, though India, one of the biggest, was stepping aside and not yet ready to commit to opening its markets that fully or quickly.


PRD, Xinhua sign MOU on media cooperation

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Government Public Relations Department (PRD) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Xinhua News Agency to cooperate in the fields of media and information.

The PRD Director-General, Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, and the Chinese Ambassador to Thailand, Lyu Jian, signed the MOU on media cooperation on November 5. The memorandum is one of the three MOUs signed by officials from the two countries, intended to strengthen their strategic partnership. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, and the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang.

The MOU on media cooperation focuses on the exchange of information, news content, images and footage that are beneficial to Thailand and China. The memorandum is also for support and collaboration between the PRD and Xinhua. This is an important opportunity for the PRD to present its news and information to a wider audience, while Thai people will also be more informed on foreign issues.

Xinhua News Agency is the official state-run press agency of China. It is the biggest and most influential media organization in China and one of the world’s top four news agencies. Its head office is in Beijing and operates more than 200 bureaux in over 180 countries. Xinhua has signed news exchange agreements with some 80 agencies. This year, it has launched a Thai-language news website, www.xinhuathai.com. The website produces more than 2,000 Chinese and foreign news items with images and footage on a monthly basis.


Thailand passes ceremonial gavel to Vietnam at ASEAN Summit

BANGKOK (NNT) - The 35th ASEAN Summit has successfully concluded on Nov 4, with the ASEAN member states and their dialogue partners agreeing to enhance cooperation in different areas. During the Handover Ceremony of the ASEAN Chairmanship, the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, passed the ceremonial gavel to his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

As the ASEAN Chairmanship this year, Gen. Prayut expressed his gratitude to all delegates at the summit for their support and cooperation, which resulted in many satisfactory outcomes. The people of ASEAN have a better quality of life amid the challenges facing the region. ASEAN has promoted trust and cooperation to facilitate trade and to support the 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In addition, the bloc has set up a network to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The Prime Minister voiced his confidence that Vietnam, as the ASEAN Chairmanship next year, will continue with efforts to move forward and ensure regional stability by incorporating continuity, complementarity and creativity in all areas.

The Vietnamese Prime Minister praised Thailand for successfully hosting the 35th ASEAN Summit. He said Vietnam will continue to support Thailand’s initiatives to promote "Partnership for Sustainability" and enhance cultural ties while preserving cultural identity of each member state. Vietnam has chosen "Cohesive and Responsive" as next year’s theme for ASEAN. The theme will focus on bringing into play the bloc’s internal strengths through solidarity and connectivity.


Thailand discusses investment promotion with U.S., Russia

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha walks hand in hand with U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.

BANGKOK (NNT) - In addition to regional meetings, Thailand’s Prime Minister held talks with delegates from the United States and Russia on investment promotion, especially in S-Curve industries, according to the Thailand 4.0 model, as well as the reconsideration of the suspension of U.S. GSP benefits for Thailand.

Prior to the discussion, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has thanked the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, for leading U.S. investors to visit Thailand, stressing the mutual benefits both countries will receive from the expansion of partnerships, trade and investment cooperation. As a long-standing investor, who has contributed to Thailand’s economic development, the Thai government is willing to facilitate investments from U.S. companies, particularly in S-Curve industries such as aircraft and space, digital, biotechnology and medicine.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha greets Dmitry Medvedev the Prime Minister of Russia.

In a discussion with Mr. Ross, the Prime Minister said Thailand has policies in place to promote and facilitate private investments by local and international investors, and that the government has improved regulations and infrastructure development. He invited U.S. private firms to invest in infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia.

On the cancellation of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) privileges, previously granted to some export products from Thailand, the Prime Minister said the government is concerned regarding the consequences for the private sector and the general public, but the government understands the U.S. conditions. He asked the U.S., as a country with close relations, to reconsider the decision. The Secretary of Commerce said the U.S. is open to further discussion prior to the effective date in 6 months.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also held talks with the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, during which he welcomed the improvements in Thailand-Russia relations, especially in economic affairs. The Thai PM invited Russian companies to invest in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor project in their specialized industries, such as national defense, digital technologies, the smart city system and medical equipment manufacture.

The Thai PM told Russian PM that Thailand is interested to export more food and farm products to Russia, and thanked Russia for their continued support by importing farm products from Thailand. He said the Thai authorities are willing to cooperate on the inspection of seafood factories in the hope of further expanding the trade, and is anticipates enhancing energy relations with Russia through the establishment of a joint energy committee. He also welcomed development of Thailand-Russia cooperation on security.

The Prime Minister of Russia congratulated Thailand on being the successful host of the ASEAN Summit and related meetings, thanking the Thai government for prioritizing Thailand-Russia relations. He said the Russian government is willing to enhance cooperation and to exchange experience and expertise with Thailand in areas such as telecommunications infrastructure, energy and agriculture. Both countries have agreed to enhance their relations at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

The Thai Prime Minister thanked the Skolkovo Foundation for granting scholarships for HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Princess Debaratanarajasuda, to select Thai students to pursue their Master’s Degree education, helping improve the development of academic and scientific human resources in Thailand.


US, China spar at Southeast Asian regional summit

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng speaks to reporters during ASEAN summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai )

By JIM GOMEZ and GRANT PECK

NONTHABURI, Thailand (AP) — The rivalry between the United States and China over influence in the Asia-Pacific region was on show Monday as the two superpowers traded barbs over freedom of navigation in the region's seas.

The war of words took place at the annual summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, hosted this year by Thailand. The meeting allows Southeast Asian leaders to deal as a bloc with the world's major powers, leveraging their influence in making security and trade arrangements.

At the same time, the meeting serves as a showcase for the rivalry between the U.S. and China, which both seek to strengthen their clout in the geopolitically important region.

On Friday the two countries repeated familiar charges — Beijing accusing Washington of interfering in Asian affairs, and Washington accusing Beijing of violating the law of the sea and encroaching on the natural resources of other countries.

Washington, however, found itself handicapped as President Donald Trump did not attend the meeting, sending in his place neither Vice President Mike Pence or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but his recently appointed national security adviser, Robert O'Brien.

Other major powers sent their heads of government. Those attending as guests of ASEAN included Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Washington's diplomatic move was underlined when seven of the Southeast Asian leaders skipped an important meeting with O'Brien, sending instead their foreign ministers. Their action was technically appropriate in terms of diplomatic protocol for a meeting with O'Brien, who Trump anointed his "special envoy" to the meeting in Bangkok.

American officials, fearing a boycott, urged all Southeast Asian heads of state to attend Monday's meeting. But ASEAN leaders decided to send only Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as host, the Vietnamese prime minister as host of next year's summit and the leader of Laos, who oversees ASEAN-U.S. relations, a Southeast Asian diplomat told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he lacked authorization to discuss the issue.

During the meeting, O'Brien read a letter from Trump, who invited ASEAN leaders to a "special summit" in the U.S. early next year.

O'Brien at a news conference denied that he regarded the meeting as a snub, saying he "only experienced very, very gracious and generous hospitality and meetings from all the leaders here, ASEAN and other leaders in the Indo-Pacific." He declared that he "had a great set of meetings and didn't feel like there was anything at all untoward."

O'Brien spoke with a sharper edge when discussing one of ASEAN's main concerns, China's aggressive territorial claims over the South China Sea, a major concern of four Southeast Asian nations with competing claims — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Taiwan is also involved in a long-simmering territorial conflict in the busy waters, a key waterway for global commerce. Dwarfed by China's military, rival claimant states have looked at the U.S. as a counterweight to the Asian powerhouse.

O'Brien took a swipe at China, saying Beijing was using intimidation to try to stop ASEAN nations from exploiting their offshore resources, blocking access to $2.5 trillion in oil and gas reserves alone.

China has long warned Washington not to interfere in territorial disputes it regards as a purely Asian issue. It opposes naval and aerial patrols by the U.S. and its allies in the disputed waters, but American forces have maintained their presence and continued "freedom of navigation" sail-bys designed to challenge China's vast territorial claims.

Chinese Premier Li said he was confident that a regional code of maritime conduct that China is negotiating with ASEAN states could be concluded in three years.

Responding to a question about O'Brien's comments, he told reporters: "Regretfully, while the tree desires tranquility, the wind keeps blowing. Some nonregional countries have done everything to make trouble and raise tensions. They want to impose their will on our countries."

O'Brien delivered a retort to Li, saying, "We don't believe that any country should just seal off massive portions of the Pacific Ocean and claim that their territorial waters like it's a lake, like it's a lake up in Lake Tahoe, an island in the middle of the U.S."

Noting the U.S. heritage as a maritime trading nation, he told reporters that "international law allows us to go in international waters when we choose. And for the reasons that we chose. And so we don't think that sailing the high seas in any way infringes on any other country."

He stressed that China's actions threatened to deprive Southeast Asian nations of the natural resources that rightfully belong to them.

"It's against the rules. It's not fair. It's not right. And so the United States has never been shy about calling that out," he said. "Now, that doesn't mean we don't want good relations with China. We want great relations with China."

The other major issue tackled by ASEAN leaders resulted in progress after seven years of negotiations for a massive free trade deal called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. However, the initiative backed by China only won approval for now from 15 of the 16 nations involved, as India was not yet able to commit itself.

RCEP, which does not include the U.S., aims to level trade barriers between ASEAN members and six other countries in a bloc encompassing roughly a third of all global trade.


ASEAN Styles trade fair welcomes delegates at 35th ASEAN Summit venue

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Department of International Trade Promotion is holding an ASEAN Styles trade fair during the 35th ASEAN Summit, in effort to uphold the invention and innovation of Thai goods. About 2,000 representatives of public and private sectors are expected to visit the trade fair at the Summit venue.

The Ministry of Commerce’s Department of International Trade Promotion is organizing the ASEAN Styles Trade Fair alongside the ASEAN Summit at Hall 5 of IMPACT Muang Thong Thani Exhibition and Convention center from November 2 to November 4. Thailand’s potential in trade, investment and tourism as well as the country’s current image as chair of ASEAN are being exhibited at the trade fair. It provides marketing opportunities for Thai entrepreneurs, especially in lifestyle products and export-quality OTOP items. The trade fair is being held in the premises of the venue where the ASEAN Summit, RCEP and ABIS 2019 are being held.

For security reasons regarding world leaders, executive officials of the public and private sectors of ASEAN and trade partner countries, as well as those of many world-famous firms, only the 2,000 attendees at the Summit and related summits are allowed to visit the trade fair. They can also buy goods and engage in trade negotiations at the fair.


Thai, Japanese leaders discuss upgrading ASEAN - Indo-Pacific cooperation

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha greets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha held a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as part of the 35th ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

The Thai Prime Minister welcomed the Japanese Premier on his first visit in Thailand in 6 years, and commended the realization of the joint statement from the 22nd ASEAN-Japan summit on connectivity, expressing ASEAN’s desire to work with Japan on ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific, especially on smart city development, access to financial services, human resources development and environmental protection, including marine debris management.

Prime Minsiter Prayut Chan-o-cha asked Japan to help promote connectivity, human resource development and environmental protection, praising Japan’s role as the chairman of the G20 on preparing outcome documentation, especially the G20 Principles on Quality Infrastructure Investment which promotes strategic connections and the integration of initiatives on regional and sub-regional connectivity.

The Japanese Prime Minister praised Thailand’s role as the chairman of ASEAN, especially on the Thai Prime Minister’s role in pushing forward the realization of important resolutions on regional development. He has pledged that Japan will continue cooperating with Thailand closely to address regional challenges.

Both Prime Ministers agreed on cooperation to promote SMEs and Startups with the signing of 6 Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between both countries’ large companies and startups on 2 November 2019, promoting business cooperation and the development of innovations and modern technologies in Thailand. This initiative complies with the Thai government’s innovative startups promotion campaign, under the InnoSpace (Thailand) project.

Both countries have discussed the progress of the Memorandum on Japan-Thailand Partnership Program Phase 3, which was signed on 31 October 2019, to extend existing cooperation to help third countries, especially in the Mekong sub-region, using experience, expertise and proven practices from Thailand and Japan.

The two Prime Ministers then discussed key regional cooperation, including the ASEAN and G20 frameworks, where Thailand and Japan are respective chairs this year, the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), the Mekong-Japan Cooperation, as well as S-Curve industries and infrastructure development in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and sport and cultural cooperation between Thailand and Japan.

The Thai Prime Minister has also wished Japan a successful hosting of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.


ASEAN charts path for trade bloc led by China

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, fifth from left, shake hands with ASEAN leaders, from left, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, and Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith during ASEAN-China summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrives to address a press conference at The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poses for a selfie with a visitor after delivering a speech in the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during The Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN-India summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

By JIM GOMEZ and GRANT PECK

NONTHABURI, Thailand (AP) — Southeast Asian leaders agreed Sunday to work with China and other neighbors to transcend conflicts over trade policies and territorial disputes for the sake of stronger economies and regional stability.

President Donald Trump skipped the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and instead sent his national security adviser, Robert O'Brien. Last year, Trump sent Vice President Mike Pence. Both now are busy campaigning back home, and analysts say their absence left room for China to further raise its profile and clout in the region.

ASEAN leaders "welcomed the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations" and the commitment to sign the free trade deal next year, the summit's host, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, said in a statement on behalf of the 10-nation regional bloc after the annual meetings.

"This will significantly contribute to an open, inclusive and rules-based international trading system and expansion of value chains," the leaders said.

Officials said there were still final issues to be resolved by the 16 countries involved in the trade deal, which has been under negotiation for seven years.

RCEP aims to level trade barriers between ASEAN members and six other countries in a bloc encompassing nearly a third of all global trade.

ASEAN also reported progress toward setting a code of conduct with China regarding disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told other leaders attending that Beijing was committed to forging such an agreement.

"Given the complexity in the international and regional situation, our cooperation is built on a stable structure and moving forward in a positive fashion," Li said. "This is beneficial to the region and all parties involved."

"We support stability in the region and by doing so we have been able to cope with the instability elsewhere in the world," he said.

On the troublesome issue of the South China Sea, Vietnamese diplomats wanted a mention in the ASEAN statement of recent Chinese encroachments into waters where Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have exclusive rights under international law to exploit energy resources.

Earlier drafts mentioned recent "serious incidents." That was absent from the final statement, perhaps reflecting Beijing's clout. China and its allies in ASEAN, led by Cambodia, have opposed any attempt to use the annual meetings to vilify the Asian economic powerhouse.

Still, in what appeared to be a compromise, the ASEAN leaders said they "took note of some concerns on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region."

Li welcomed progress on negotiating a code of conduct that could avert armed confrontations in one of the world's most disputed regions.

After being accused of delaying the start of talks for years while building artificial islands with military outposts on contested reefs, China agreed to begin negotiations and both sides announced that the first of three expected rounds was concluded in July.

Li called that progress "a very important landmark" for regional stability. He said China is committed to making headway in the negotiations with ASEAN members, four of whom — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam — are locked in the territorial disputes.

But the talks are highly contentious and it's unclear if China is ready to sign a code that many governments, including the U.S., hope would be legally binding and potent enough to restrain provocative actions in a busy waterway crucial to global commerce.

Two Southeast Asian diplomats told The Associated Press that in a tense meeting in Vietnam recently, Vietnamese diplomats questioned how the negotiations could progress while flotillas of Chinese fishing boats backed by China's coast guard and navy were swarming into disputed waters.

Chinese officials replied that ASEAN members should not allow one state "to hijack the COC process," one of the diplomats said, referring to the code of conduct talks. The two diplomats spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the issue publicly.

"China's continued harassment of Malaysia, Filipino and Vietnamese activities over the last year shows that it isn't yet prepared to compromise in any substantive way. So these talks always seemed to be heading for trouble," said Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert with the U.S.-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

The meetings Sunday touched on other challenges, including climate change. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the leaders to wean themselves from reliance on coal-fired power plants given the region's vulnerability to extreme weather disasters and rising sea levels.

Guterres nudged Myanmar to do more to help resettle hundreds of thousands of members of its Muslim Rohingya minority who have fled violence in the country's northwest.

"Some positive steps have been taken, but much more needs to be done to forge durable solutions and ensure effective accountability," he said.

Asked by reporters about the recent deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants who died in a shipping container while being smuggled into Britain, Guterres urged that more be done to fight human trafficking.

"Migration is inevitable," he said. "If migration is inevitable, then it's better to organize it."

ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Together, they comprise a fast-growing regional market of nearly 650 million people.

The proposed RCEP trade bloc aims to facilitate and set standards for trade among ASEAN and six other nations: China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. It does not include the United States.


Thailand supports Vietnam as ASEAN chair in 2020

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha greets Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits in Bangkok.

BANGKOK (NNT) - Thailand has spoken in support of Vietnam as chair of ASEAN in 2020, and thanked Vietnam for supporting Thailand as this year’s ASEAN chair. Meanwhile, bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to total 20 billion dollars next year.

Prime Minister/Defense Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha held bilateral talk with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the sidelines of the 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits in Bangkok. The Thai prime minister assured the Vietnamese PM of Thailand’s support for Vietnam as chair of ASEAN in 2020, while the Vietnamese prime minister complemented Thailand on its role as chair of ASEAN in 2019, and the push for the creative development of ASEAN; he thanked Thailand for taking care of Vietnamese migrant workers and for supporting Vietnam as next year’s ASEAN chair.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has already increased and Thailand has sought to promote cooperation in the sustainable management of water in the Mekong sub-region under the framework of the Mekong River Commission and Mekong-Lancang Commission.

Both sides admired their bilateral relationship, while the Thai prime minister raised concerns over climate change such as cross-border forest fires and haze problems, for which the cooperation of ASEAN states is essential if the problem is to be solved. Thailand and Vietnam anticipate a total of 20 billion dollars in bilateral trade in 2020 with both leaders agreeing to provide accommodation for investors..

The Thai prime minister called on his Vietnamese counterpart to extend the period of time permitted for Vietnam’s importation of automotive parts from Thailand, and confirmed Thailand will gladly provide its experience in solving the IUU issue to help upgrade Vietnam’s fishing industry.


ASEAN leaders’ spouses view exhibition on Thailand’s garbage management changes

BANGKOK (NNT) - Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, today welcomed the spouses of the ASEAN leaders to an exhibition on the management of garbage organized by the Ministry, SCG Plc. and PTT Global Chemical Plc. The exhibition outlines the previous and current management approaches to garbage collection, awareness of garbage problems and adjusted views on the issue, as well as the reduction of and end to the use of plastic bags in 2021.

The ASEAN leaders’ spouses attended an academic workshop on the management of garbage with Thailand’s intention to turn ASEAN into a sustainable manufacturing and consuming region, given sustainable and creative waste management and the promotion of a biological economy, circular economy and green economy. It is a masterpiece of environmental design by Thailand, as chair of ASEAN this year..

The ASEAN leaders’ spouses also viewed the National Museum Phra Nakhon which features Thailand’s historic artifacts, and Bang Khun Phrom Palace, which is over 100 years old and is situated on one side of the Chao Phraya River, where it is admired as one of Thailand’s most beautiful palaces.


ONCB discusses upgrading solutions to drug problem in Golden Triangle

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) has discussed upgrading solutions to the drug problem in the Golden Triangle with China and Myanmar, with a focus on preventing chemicals and substrates from entering the production sites.

ONCB Secretary General Niyom Termsrisuk said today the bilateral meeting on drugs between Thailand - China, and Thailand - Myanmar at the end of last month, reviewed cooperation on drug prevention and suppression. The three countries agreed that the spread of synthetic drugs has been more prevalent in the Greater Mekong Subregion and the Asian region..

Therefore, it has become necessary to upgrade and enhance the ability to suppress drug trafficking in every quarter, prevent the substrates and chemicals from entering the Golden Triangle area which is considered an important source of production, enhance the efficiency of drug detection and exchange information on the analysis of the characteristics of drugs.

One important conclusion from the meeting is that Thailand, China and Myanmar will upgrade their cooperation on solving drug use problems in the Golden Triangle area in terms of suppression, prevention and rehabilitation. The three countries will also focus on preventing the substrates used in the production of drugs from entering the production sites. China and Myanmar are two of the six countries that have participated in the Safe Mekong action plan and the Golden Triangle blockade action plan. From November 13-15, 2019, the ONCB will host a senior staff meeting and a ministerial meeting under the seven-party memorandum of understanding to express the partner countries’ commitment to solving drug problems in the Greater Mekong Sub-region to effectively reduce the impact of drug problems in a sustainable manner.


PM gives awards to excellent local administrations

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Prime Minister has granted awards to 53 local administrative organizations, in recognition of their excellent management in fiscal year 2019, stressing the government’s preparedness to work together with local administrations, and their important role in creating understanding among villagers.

The Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over an awards ceremony honoring the 53 local administrative organizations for their transparent management and good public participation.

The Prime Minister congratulated all award winners on their excellent work and high standards, stressing that local administrations are important bodies in achieving national development, and asking award-winning organizations to help mentor other local administrative organizations to improve their strength and performance, and to encourage the organizations to update themselves on legal matters and correct budget protocols, as well as implementing more digital technologies to better reach out to villagers, to enable their fast development and good governance.

He said the government wishes to promote its policies, and national strategies, while creating understanding among members of the general public, of ways to improve their quality of life and allow them to gain more income. He assured the public of the government’s intention to provide support and take good care of local administrations, promising local elections next year when everything is ready.

Three local administrative organizations won this year’s grand prizes totaling 15 million baht in cash rewards. Special awards were given to 125 administrative organizations passing the evaluation as incentives for improvements. The evaluation was made according to strict criteria based on transparency and concrete outcomes from good governance, effectiveness, public services, innovations, and efficient budget management maximizing the public and the nation’s benefit.


Baan Tulakorpalus - a model cooperative in Narathiwat to fight against IUU fishing

Today, we’ll take you to Baan Tulakorpalus, a fishing village chosen as a model of marine resource conservation and a leader in the elimination of illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, with support from the government. Currently, it is the only village with a fishing cooperative in Narathiwat province.

Mustopa Useng, president of the Baan Tulakorpalus fishing group, told us that villagers from Ban Khao Tanyong and Ban Tulakorpalus got together in 2010 to find ways to protect their marine resources and aquatic creatures. They resolved to prohibit the use of illegal fishing equipment and ban fishermen from other villages from fishing in their areas.

In 2015, the government implemented measures to combat IUU fishing and support the recovery of marine ecosystems. Tulakorpalus village was then able to set up a fisheries cooperative located Kaluwo Nuea subdistrict, Muang Narathiwat district. This cooperative currently has 58 members.

"In the past, illegal fishing nets were used. After the government addressed the problem of illegal fishing nets, the marine environment improved. Fishermen are restricted to fishing on certain days, and only small boats are allowed. The fishing cooperative was set up to help the local fishermen have sustainable livelihoods," Mustopa said.

Prapatpong Taksinsamphan, head of fishing management in the Narathiwat Provincial Fisheries Office, said the fishery group has cooperated with the government to address IUU fishing and follow the royal initiatives of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX).

The group has strengthened the fishing village and brought other benefits to the locals. This is the origin of the fishing cooperative. Abdulroyah Arwae, vice president of the Baan Tulakorpalus fishing group, said the villagers have joined forces to set up this community organization to oversee marine resources, and they have become stronger. The fishing cooperative will support the local fishermen and improve their livelihoods.

Chana Amornwat, director of the cooperative promotion of Narathiwat Provincial Cooperative Office, said this is the only fishing cooperative in the southernmost province. It was established in August this year to provide fishing equipment to local fishermen and manage their product distribution.

"It’s not only fishermen. Farmers have to get together and help each other. They will have more negotiation power when they buy or sell their produce. Setting up a cooperative is better than other methods because it is a legal entity and can carry out many activities. It is also supported by civil agencies," he added.

The fisheries cooperative of Tulakorpalus village has many strong points and it is looking for ways to enhance them further.

Related agencies will have to support the processing of their products to increase their value, while encouraging 12 other fishing villages to form their own cooperatives like the one in Tulakorpalus village. The cooperatives benefit everyone and they can continue to live together peacefully.


Northeastern provinces save water for dry season

KHON KAEN (NNT) - Parts of the northeastern region covering 10 provinces have been declared drought affected areas because of the prolonged lack of rain. The drought disaster in Khon Kaen is considered the worst in 50 years, requiring special water deliveries from Chulabhorn reservoir every two months, to ensure water availability.

Officials from Chum Phae local waterworks office in Chum Phae district, Khon Kaen, have surveyed water availability in Choen River at a water pumping station, as the water level has continued to decrease leaving the inlet pipe covered by only 20 centimeters. The area earlier requested Chulabhorn reservoir upstream in Chaiyaphum to discharge extra water to resolve the shortage of water for tap water production, but only 500,000 cubic meters out of 2 million cubic meters in water volume reached the area, with the current availability only sufficient for tap water production for 40 more days.

Chum Phae Hospital director Duangporn Aswarachan said today the hospital serves patients from nine surrounding districts, especially patients requiring hemodialysis, a procedure that uses a lot of water each time. The hospital is required to have a backup plan in case of water shortages to minimize the effect on patients.

In Bueng Kan, rice farmers in Ban San Charoen village and Ban Pan Lam village are now faced with a premature drought season, causing heading and ripening rice to lack the water needed. Farmers are required to buy water pumped in from the Mekong river for the crops, charged at 65 baht per hour. The service could only provide a water supply to a single farmer yesterday, with the waiting list now full. The transition into winter with dry air and strong winds also causes the crops to dry out more easily.

In Nong Khai, water levels in the Mekong river remain at less than 1.5 meters deep, which is the lowest in 50 years. The low water level has caused sand sediment and islands to show up in the middle of the river, obstructing boat navigation, especially Thailand-Laos cargo boats at Hai Sok Pier where the load limit has been reduced, and captains are required to exercise greater caution while navigating. The water level, if lowered by just another 30 centimeters, will halt the cargo boat service, as boats will not be able to reach the pier on the Laos side, affecting pier workers including some 100 workers in Thailand.

In Bang Rakam, Phitsanulok, staff members from Yom-Nan rivers water delivery and maintenance project managed by the 3rd Irrigation Office, have removed debris obstructing Bang Kaew water discharge gate, and closed all five gates after the water level in the Yom river continued to drop. The closure of this discharge gate is aimed at helping conserve water for consumption during the dry season, expected to be of concern due to insufficient water in the main dams.


Energy Minister sees "Tha Makham Natural Agricultural Center" as model power provider

KANCHANABURI (NNT) - Kanchanaburi’s Center for Agricultural Technology and Alternative Energy Development has been using blended energy to create careers. The Ministry of Energy now sees an opportunity to further develop it into a model community power plant.

The Agricultural Technology and Alternative Energy Development Center in Tha Makham subdistrict of Kanchanaburi is a natural agricultural learning center that uses blended energy in the production process. Solar energy, biomass energy, fossil fuels and energy from waste, are all used to power various activities within the center.

Energy Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong held discussions with Mrs. Thiwaphorn Srivorakun, the co-founder of the center, who initiated the concept of natural farming. He sees an opportunity to develop it into a model community power plant, which enables the community to participate in power production, consumption and distribution, in order to operate their businesses in the local area in a sustainable manner.


Public invited to visit exhibition on royal barge procession in Sanam Luang

 BANGKOK (NNT) - The Ministry of Culture is holding an exhibition on the royal barge procession in Sanam Luang, Bangkok. Among the highlights are royal barge replicas, cultural performances from different regions of Thailand and a spectacular light-and-sound show.

At the exhibition on Tuesday (Oct 29), the Royal Thai Navy presented replicas of the four royal barges, namely the Suphannahong Royal Barge, the Narai Song Suban His Majesty King Rama IX Royal Barge, the Anantanakharaj Royal Barge and the Anekchartphuchong Royal Barge. The replicas showcase the country’s identity and cultural heritage.

In addition, a group of 100 villagers from Kalasin province performed a traditional dance titled "Father of the Land" at the exhibition.

The event also features shows from all four regions of Thailand. They are presented at 6:30 p.m. every night. On Wednesday, the shows included tribal dances, a chanting of boat songs and a khon masked dance inspired by an excerpt of the Hindu epic, Ramayana.

The exhibition is displayed in three zones. The first zone shows coronations since the Rattanakosin period. The story is told through the combination of archival pictures and Thai traditional wall paintings.

The second zone has a stage for multimedia displays and performances, revealing the Thai people’s pride in being part of this ancient ceremony. The performances on stage are combined with a 40-meter long LED backdrop screen to enhance the beauty of the shows.

The third zone offers information about the royal barges in the Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin eras. This zone features the replicas of the four royal barges.

The exhibition is open to the public from October 25 to November 11, 2019, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., at Sanam Luang, Bangkok. Admission to the event is free.


Thai entrepreneur pushing insects as the snack of the future

Thai entrepreneur Thatnat Chanthatham shows crickets at Smile cricket farm at Ratchaburi province, southwest of Bangkok, Thailand, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Employees sort out crickets for size at Smile cricket farm at Ratchaburi province, southwest of Bangkok, Thailand Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

A tourist picks up a pack of crickets named HiSo snacks at a supermarket in Bangkok, Thailand. Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

By JERRY HARMER and TASSANEE VEJPONGSA Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — They are sold in bags like salted peanuts, or tubes like stacked potato chips, but these crunchy morsels on the shelves of Thai convenience stores and supermarkets stand apart from the snack food crowd.

The bugs — baked, not fried — could be the next big thing in tasty treats.

Rural Thais have long eaten bugs as part of their diet. In big cities, street vendors catering to migrant workers sell cooked insects that under most circumstances would cause foreign tourists to whip out a can of bug spray.

The idea to package them like potato chips came to entrepreneur Thatnat Chanthatham when a story on the news caught his attention.

"I heard on the TV news that the U.N. said insects were an alternative source of protein for the future . so I thought that Thais eat a lot of insects already and can get them as street food. Has anyone put them in a bag?" the 46-year-old told The Associated Press. "If not, how can we do it? What sort of flavors?"

His supply chain begins at the Smile cricket farm in Ratchaburi province, 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Bangkok. In one breeding room alone, more than a million of the chirping insects are being raised on a 45-day cycle from egg to adult to harvest. Some of the products are baked here, others at the next stop, a factory in Bangkok, where they are packaged and then trucked to retail outlets.

Small crickets are one of the best sellers in the range of insect convenience snacks sold under the HiSo brand — that's Thai slang for "high society."

HiSo snacks unabashedly proclaim what they are: the bamboo worms look like bamboo worms; the crickets look like crickets. The line also includes crispy silkworms.

They come in original, barbecue and tom yam flavors, and can be found in Thailand's ubiquitous 7-Eleven shops and in a major supermarket chain. Crickets are priced at 25 baht (83 cents) for a bag; at the high end, a tube of bamboo worms costs 160 baht ($5.29).

HiSo has established itself in the snack market, but there was plenty of trial-and-error involved, Thatnat said, such as when they were considering whether to sell large, black crickets.

"Even though I'm a regular when it comes to eating bugs, I still felt like their eyes were staring at me ... Then, after we ate them, their legs and wings poked out and got stuck in our teeth and gums," he said, laughing.

"I thought, should we go ahead? I talked to the team and they said please shelve this one, so I did."

Two tons of insects pass through his Bangkok factory every month. Revenue is steady at around $100,000 per month, but overheads are high. While he raises his own crickets, he hasn't yet found a way to produce enough silkworms and bamboo worms to the required standard, so he has to buy them from independent suppliers.

Still, four years after the metamorphosis of HiSo from idea to industry, Thatnat is a satisfied man.

"When it comes to bugs, there are people who are scared of them, people who eat them and people who don't. But to be where we are today, with people knowing and accepting our HiSo brand, that's what I'd call a success."

Until recently, demand for edible bugs was mainly in parts of Asia, Africa and South America. But HiSo's emergence comes amid growing global interest in insects as a food source.

They don't need a lot of space, don't need a lot of feed and don't leave a large carbon footprint. And in return, as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization points out, they offer substantial nutritional benefits for livestock and for humans.

"They have an incredibly high content of protein, but also minerals and also vitamin B12," said the FAO's Katinka de Balogh. "The nutritional value of insects has not been recognized in the past and I think, nowadays, we are finding that there is a huge potential."

Will HiSo's packaging and marketing be a game-changer, helping make insects the food of the future?

Thatnat said his products are popular with Asian tourists, especially the Chinese, so his next goal is to export them. But so far, he's hit a brick wall, and blames a morass of unclear regulations.

"There needs to be an agreement between governments. All you really get is advice on bugs as a food source," he says. "In the end, these insects can't really go between countries yet. That's one of the things stopping us from obtaining our goal."

Even in Thailand, some can't stomach the thought of crunchy crickets or original flavor bamboo worms.

Many passers-by kept walking when recently offered samples in the street, or flat out turned down a taste, though two office workers who tried them said they were fine.

"If I see them, I'll buy them," said Anuwat Suetrong.


Thailand to renegotiate U.S. GSP at ASEAN Summit

BANGKOK (NNT) - Apart from resolutions to be made by ASEAN leaders at the ASEAN Summit in November, the Thai government will take the opportunity to hold talks with the U.S. regarding the decision to revoke the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) treatment previously given to 573 Thai products.

The Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said today the revocation of GSP by the U.S. must be looked into to find the true cause, as Thailand will be making additional representations to persuade Washington to restore the benefits, as there have been cases of benefits restoration on seven items in the past. The decision to no longer grant GSP preferences also applies to some other ASEAN countries, thus the countries involved will seek to hold talks with the U.S. representatives at the ASEAN Summit.

He said however that Thailand will be looking to newer markets in the future, and asked the general public not to worry or connect this issue with others.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has held a talk with Charge d’Affaires Michael Heath, the acting U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, during his courtesy call after taking the acting ambassador’s position, where the U.S. diplomat has confirmed the matter is still up for further discussion as both countries have long enjoyed good relations. He added that both sides will seek an opportunity during the ASEAN Summit to resolve the issue.

The University of the Thai Chambers of Commerce’s Director of Center for Economic and Business Forecasting (CEBF), Thanawat Polvichai said today the discontinuation of GSP won’t cause a significant drawback on the export figure, as Thai exporters are likely to make the necessary adjustments and find replacement markets, as many export items from Thailand have been re-positioned to compete with innovations rather than pricing, especially among exports to the U.S.

He said the export sector will not be gravely affected and that the overall economic growth this year should achieve 2.8 percent growth, provided that the Bank of Thailand can regulate the Thai currency to keep it within appropriate margins, close to global competitors.


Thailand promoting Si Thep, Phanom Rung as World Heritage sites

BANGKOK(NNT)- The government has resolved to step up efforts to register several of its historic locations as World Heritage sites.

The third meeting of the national committee on the World Heritage Convention, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, acknowledged the results of the 43rd World Heritage Committee session in Baku, Azerbaijan, which took place between June 30 and July 10 this year. The gathering agreed to place Si Thep and Phanom Rung historical parks on its preliminary list of World Heritage sites. Thailand has been asked to provide documentation on the two sites to the committee to further their consideration, as well as undertake additional processing for Kaeng Krachan National Park.

The national committee also considered a draft report on conservation of the Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai forest, which is to be submitted so that it avoids being listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Varawut Silapa-acha, explained today that receiving World Cultural Heritage and World Natural Heritage status not only brings pride to Thailand but helps to attract tourists from across the globe, benefiting the nation’s economy.
 


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Baan Tulakorpalus - a model cooperative in Narathiwat to fight against IUU fishing

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Public invited to visit exhibition on royal barge procession in Sanam Luang

Thai entrepreneur pushing insects as the snack of the future

Thailand to renegotiate U.S. GSP at ASEAN Summit

Thailand promoting Si Thep, Phanom Rung as World Heritage sites