Dateline Southeast Asia

Thai fishermen prolong strike after government impounds vessels

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Fishing boats are at a standstill (Photo: Chingrai Times)
Fishing boats are at a standstill (Photo: Chingrai Times)

Related tags Southeast asia European union Philippines

Thai fishermen prolong strike after government impounds vessels

Thai fishermen continue to strike after EU directives against illegal fishing prompted its junta to outlaw a huge number of fishing vessels.

Concerned that Thailand could stand to lose one of its most important export markets, the junta imposed the ban on the boats without warning.

Banchong Nasae, president of the Thai Marine Preservation Association, told AsiaNews​: "The mistakes of the government are evident in several places, such as the failure to comply with laws and measures for restoration and rehabilitation of the environment​.”

"The EU’s ‘yellow card’ was caused by the inefficiency in controls on illegal fishing which have accumulated in over 20 years. The government should do the same as Indonesiain combating illegal fishing​.”

To meet the EU’s requirements Thailand’s junta last week brought in new regulatory controls on vessels, prompting the strike by fisheries workers, who complained they they didn’t have time to adapt to them.

Not all sections of the fishing industry are sympathetic to to the strikers. According to Sama-air Jaemudore, of the Thailand Local Federation of Fishery Association, operators were “exempt from the law for 30 years, [so] it’s too long for a second chance”​. 

Jaemudore said: “The government must act to prevent illegal fishing techniques, and we appeal to fishermen to respect the rules for the good of all and of the environment. Thailand is able to solve the problem of exports with the European Union.​”

The world’s third biggest fish shipper, Thailand’s seafood export revenue amounted to US$3bn last year, according to to the Thai Frozen Foods Association. Its imports to Europe are worth up to EUR730m per year.

Philippines urged to drop constitution’s FDI restrictions

The Philippine Trade Foundation has backed a move to amend the country’s constitution to strengthen its competitiveness against Asean neighbours. 

Its president urged the government to support calls for charter as the deadline for the creation of an Asean Economic Community, due by the end of the year, continues to draw closer.

The trade group added that restrictive provisions in constitution, including those limiting foreign direct investment in some industries, had been hindering the country’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is currently being negotiated with the United States and other regional countries.

By relaxing the limitations on foreign ownership, the Philippines will not only be able to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it will also be able to maximise the benefits from the Asean integration and create jobs for the Filipino people​,” said PTF president Tony Lopa.

Lopa also called for a more open policy regime in a globally competitive investment climate that is beyond politics to bring about accelerated economic growth.

Thailand passes export controls 

The Thai cabinet has approved in principle a draft regulation from the Commerce Ministry for an integrated export-control system to monitor trans-shipments of dual-use items. 

Though the document, which covers a number of industries including aerospace, marine and defence, technology and biotechnology, has yet to be published, the Commerce Ministry has indicated it will adopt a list of controlled dual-use goods from the European Union. 

The draft will now be delivered to a review committee, and then it will be proposed to the Cabinet for further review.

Stuart Simons of Deloitte told The Nation​ that the new strategic regulations will place additional burdens of compliance on some segments of business, but on the whole they should “increase investor confidence and enhance trading relationships with Thailand​”.

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