BANGKOK, Feb 3- The Thai Cabinet on Tuesday approved visa exemptions for Bruneian and Thai diplomats and officials for periods of no more than 30 days.

Poor management at ports along the United States West Coast has led to rising expenses as well as delays in unloading goods and Thai exporters are advised to have their goods delivered to the East Coast or other ports in Canada, according to Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s International Trade Promotion Department.

Wednesday, 04 February 2015 15:01

Thailand should negotiate FTA with Europe

Thailand should quickly negotiate and conclude a Free Trade Area agreement with Europe in the absence of a Generalized System of Preferences offered by the European Union, said Suttinee Poopaka, executive director of the Thailand Textile Institute.

The EU has cut GSP privileges to several countries, including Thailand, since January 1 after the World Bank redefined them as upper-middle income countries from 2011 to 2013.

Suttinee told a seminar in Bangkok that Thailand must pay duty as high as 12 percent now for products exported to the EU, impacting the country’s competitiveness with countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar which still enjoy GSP privileges.

Vietnam currently holds an economic strategic partnership under the Trans-Pacific pact with the US and is opening an FTA with the EU.

If it succeeds, Vietnam would enjoy a zero duty on its goods exported to the US and to the EU, she said.

Suttinee advised that Thailand should conclude an FTA agreement with Europe as soon as possible as well as boost its production competitiveness in its textiles and garments.

Several Thai manufacturers of brand name products have now relocated their production bases to neighboring countries, including Cambodia which still enjoys GSP privileges, she said.

The producers have also been impacted from a hike of daily minimum wage to Bt300 in the country.

BANGKOK, Feb 2 - Despite the ongoing enforcement of martial law, many foreigners seem to better understand the situation in Thailand and the number of foreigners visiting the kingdom in 2015 is expected to rise to  28 million, said Charoen Wangananont, secretary-general of the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA). 

BANGKOK, Feb 2 - Recovery of domestic consumption and private investment in Thailand is still slow as the private sector is still waiting for global economic recovery and massive government investment on basic infrastructure projects, said Don Nakornthab, director of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) Macroeconomic Policy Office. 

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 Compensation will be paid to next-of-kins of MH370 victims about three weeks after the documentation process and paper work have been completed, said MH370/MH17 crisis director Fuad Sharuji.

"We are ready to pay compensation but the next-of-kins (NOK) must show proof of their relationship, such as birth and marriage certificates, and these must be verified by a commissioner of oath.

"After the documents have been verified, payment can be made direct into their accounts in less than three weeks. Our lawyers will call and help the NOK with the documentation," he said.

He was speaking in the programme 'Landskap' shown on RTM1, hosted by Sayed Munawar Sayed Mustar and Shuhaimi Mohamed on Sunday night.

Also on the programme were MAS Group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya and MAS Senior Vice-President and Corporate Communication head, Datuk Najmuddin Abdullah.

Fuad said the compensation to be paid was more than what has been set by the Montreal Convention 1999 but he did not disclose the amount.

"Our compensation is more than the minimum scheme (Montreal Convention). We are giving a certain amount (compensation). There may be some adjustment if the NOK can prove that the passenger should get more.

"For instance, if the victim was earning a high income, still young and should get more. We will consider."

Fuad was asked if the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM) had settled almost all the claims worth RM16.875 million by the NOK.

He said that was the life insurance which the passengers themselves had taken out and thus did not need a declaration for claims and payment.

This was different from MAS which was paying compensation for passengers who used its airline service.

Clarifying the need for a declaration of death for MH370 passengers, Fuad said the government had decided on the declaration to facilitate compensation payment to the NOK.

He said without the declaration, the NOK would have to wait for seven years (for a person who was lost to be declared dead) in order to proceed with the claim for compensation.

"You can give the compensation without a declaration but it is important for the next-of-kins to get certification.

"Under the law, you must wait for seven years. But do we want to wait? So the government decided to make a declaration and we can take advantage of this to continue with the compensation claim," he said.

On Jan 29, Malaysian government declared that MH370 was an accident under international aviation regulations and all 239 passengers were presumed dead.

However, the Malaysia government stressed that the mission to search for the Boeing 777 was still a priority.

Flight MH370, with 227 passengers and 12 crew, departed KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8 last year and was missing from the radar screen one hour later as it was over the South China Sea.

It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6.30 am on the same day.

SEJONG, Feb 2 South Korea may face an oversupply of rice this year as its output reached a five-year high while rice consumption continues to shrink, government officials said Monday.

According to the officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the country's self-sufficiency rate for rice is expected to reach 97 percent in 2015.

The country's overall output of rice inched up 0.3 percent on-year to some 4.24 million tons in 2014.

South Korea is also required to import at least 408,700 tons of rice every year under a special agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which had allowed the country to postpone opening its rice market over the past 20 years.

South Korea liberalized its rice market through tarrification at the start of this year.

The oversupply problem will likely be further accelerated by a drop in the country's rice consumption, the ministry officials noted.

In 2014, the country's annual intake of rice per person dipped 3.1 percent on-year to a record low of 65.1 kilograms.

The per capita consumption is again expected to shrink this year, continuing its steady decline over the past 40 odd years since 1970 when it hit a record high of 136.4 kg, officials said.  (MCOT Yonhap)

BEIJING, Feb 1 Swimmer Ning Zetao and tennis superstar Li Na won the Best Male and Female Athletes of the Year resepectively at the prestigious China's Central Television (CCTV) Sports Awards here on Sunday.

The annual CCTV Sports Awards, recognized as the Chinese version of the Laureus World Sports Awards, is taken as the premier honors on the Chinese sporting calendar.

Ning beat out other four nominees, including badminton superstar Lin Dan and 2014 Table Tennis Men's World Cup winner Zhang Jike, to claim the honor.

The 21-year-old Ning claimed four gold medals at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and also broke men's 100m freestyle Asian record.

Li claimed both the Best Female Athlete of the Year and the Sports Special Contribution, for serving as a great milestone for the development of Chinese tennis.

Li Na won her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier in 2014 and ranked world No. 2, the highest ranking that an Asian player, male or female, has ever achieved, but she retired from tennis at the age of 32, citing injuries as reasons to force her out.

Female skater Zhang Hong, who claimed China's first ever Olympic speed skating gold after winning the women's 1000m title with a large margin at the Sochi Winter Olympics, won the honor of Best Breakthrough of the Year, while the quartet of Chen Shiwei, Xie Zhenye, Su Bingtian and Zhang Peimeng, who broke the Asian record and won the men's 4x100m relay at the Asian Games, won the Best Relay/Pair of the Year.

The volleyball legend Jenny Lang Ping and her Chinese national women's volleyball team became the biggest winners here for the silver medal at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in 2014. Jenny claimed the Best Coach of the Year, the women's volleyball team won the Best Team of the Year, and the 18-year-old young star Yuan Xinyue received the Best Rookie as well.

Chen Penbin, who became the first Chinese to claim an international ultra-marathon title and also the first runner to compete in all seven continents, claimed the Non-Olympic Athlete of the Year.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak expressed his sympathy for the families of passengers and crew of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, following the announcement by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) that it was an accident.

He said search for the aircraft will however, continue.

"Today my thoughts are with the families of those on MH370. The search will continue. Malaysia, Australia and China remain committed to finding the plane," he said in his latest tweet.

Earlier this evening, DCA director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman through a televised broadcast announcement said that the missing MH370 was deemed an accident with all its 239 passengers on board presumed dead.

Flight MH370 which was bound for Beijing, China, disappeared from the radar an hour after it took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am on March 8, 2014.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai in his latest tweet also said: "My thoughts and prayers goes out to family members of those onboard MH370. It has been and continues to be difficult times for them and the nation," he said. (BERNAMA)

SEOUL, Jan. 30 - The chairman of Korean Air Lines Co. was to take the stand Friday for his eldest daughter who is on trial for alleged obstruction of aviation safety for forcing a chief steward off a taxiing plane last month, court officials said.

Cho Yang-ho will testify on whether the senior crew member, who was allegedly assaulted by his daughter and forced off the Seoul-bound Korean Air flight from New York last month, will be able to keep his job, the Seoul Western District Court said.

His testimony will likely bear a significant influence over his daughter's sentence, experts say.

The second hearing on the so-called "nut rage" incident is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

The incident was given the nickname, as Cho Hyun-ah, former vice president of South Korea's largest full-service carrier, allegedly caused a scene after she was served her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate. She had claimed the service was in violation of the proper nut-serving protocol.

Another witness to appear at Friday's hearing is the female flight attendant who had served the nuts to Cho.

It would mark the first time the woman, identified only by her surname Kim, made a public appearance.

Court officials said she will be escorted into the court room through a private hallway.

It is unclear whether the chief of the cabin crew will take the witness stand this day.

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