Australia considering lifting ban on Thai chicken meat, frozen shrimp

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CANBERRA, May 28 – Australia has agreed to consider lifting its ban on Thai chicken meat and frozen shrimp as requested by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday, in the first action from her trip down under. The likely move follows the European Union’s lifting of its import ban on such goods. 

Ms Yingluck and Australian PM Julia Gillard met at Parliament House in Canberra on the two countries’ bilateral, regional and wider international cooperation.

According to Ms Yingluck, the Australian government will also consider importing more rice from Thailand, while Thailand showed interest in exchanging promotion on Australia’s technology to improve agricultural production.

The Thailand-Australia free trade area (TAFTA) is a major mechanism for value adding of mutual trade, which is set to grow 20 per cent by 2016, the Thai premier said. The countries discussed ways to reduce obstacles under TAFTA such as tax barriers and will have a joint committee meeting to further consider the matter next month.

As Thailand is promoting its ‘Thailand: Kitchen to the World’ project, the prime ministers agreed to promote food security and cooperation on the technology of agricultural processing, while Thailand is interested in investing in sugar and animal feeds in Australia.

On security matters, the two countries will raise the level of cooperation to become strategic partners and to cooperate at the regional level to prevent terrorism and international crime, promote peace and security in the region. Thailand praised Australia in dealing with human trafficking and drug problems.

Regarding the labour force, Thailand promotes exporting its skilled labour to work in Australia.

However, the Thai prime minister asked Ms Gillard to ease regulations on the quality of workers in terms of the use of the English language, particularly Thai chefs. They agreed to promote cooperation on English-training courses for Thai chefs and other labourers.

Other discussions included cooperation on space technology, energy and natural disaster prevention, for Australia is a coordinator on tsunami warning in the Asia-Pacific region.

After the discussion, Ms Yingluck and Ms Gillard signed agreements on education and training, and on an exchange programme between Thailand’s King Prajadhipok’s Institute and the Australian Political Exchange Council.

Ms Yingluck and her entourage later met with Tony Abbot, leader of the Opposition in the Australian House of Representatives.

Ms Gillard hosted a luncheon for the Thai prime minister and other representatives.

The Thai PM had a few more engagements in Canberra before returning to Sydney to meet Australian entrepreneurs and attend a welcome party.

Officially welcomed by her Australian counterpart on Monday, the Thai premier is visiting Australia May 26-29 as a guest of the Australian Government and as part of activities celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations.