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US extends GSP for Thailand

Posted by pakin On July - 2 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The United States has agreed to renew its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for Thailand until the end of 2017, the Commerce Ministry revealed on Wednesday.

The reinstatement order happened on Monday. It is valid four years and five months. As the tariff privilege takes retroactive effect from its previous expiry in July 2013. The privilege will continue until Dec 31, 2017.

Consequently Thai exporters are entitled to tax refunds for two years back for 3,400 product items worth 6.2 billion baht, Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said on Wednesday. The products are mainly for ceramics, sanitary ware and processed foods.

He believed Thai exports will escape contraction this year. Thailand is among 127 countries that enjoy the GSP extension from the US.

The Commerce Ministry last week reported Thai export value tumbled for a fifth straight month in May, down by 5% year-on-year to US$18.4 billion, leading the five-month performance to fall by 4.2% year-on-year to $88.7 billion.

The commerce minister insisted authorities were trying their best to spur exports not only in traditional key markets including the United States and China but also new markets.

He urged Thai exporters to fully exercise the renewed tariff privilege from the US and hoped that it would have a positive effect on overall Thai exports.

Nopporn Thepsitthar, chairman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, said the value of Thai exports could fall by 2% to 3.5% this year because of declining exports to most markets including Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, the Middle East, Africa, South America, India and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Thai exports were growing only in the US, China, Australia, Canada, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, he said.

Water shortages would also limit Thai export values because of reduced agricultural yields, Mr Nopporn added.

Great Little Place

Posted by pakin On June - 22 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Because GLP is quite new, it is not yet practical for use in Thailand. It will come in handy should you be planning trips to cities within the UK, the US, Ireland, Canada, South Africa or Australia.

GLP allows you to search for places where you can explore local culture such as restaurants, bars and museums. Some of these places might not be mainstream, but they are nonetheless worth popping by.

The interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Upon entering the app, users choose the city they plan to visit. Users are then directed to interesting places in that city. Swipe right to add a particular destination to a shortlist. The distance and a map to the destination are provided in-app. Users can also swipe left to return to the main menu.

The app also provides basic information on places and allows you to make reservations at restaurants or bars.

The application is only available in English.

Anti-fracking protesters rally at US Embassy

Posted by pakin On April - 21 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Demand that firms cease drilling system they claim threatens villagers’ health

AROUND 20 members of the “Stop Fracking Thailand Network” rallied outside the US Embassy in Bangkok yesterday to protest against chemical fracking in this country.

Two network representatives, Rangsit University professor Dr Smith Tungkasmit and Pipat Samanchuen, were allowed to enter the premises to hand a letter to Eric Frater, first secretary of the economic section of the embassy.

The letter demanded that US authorities encourage an investigation into companies Apico (Khorat), Apico LLC, Hess Corporation, Chevron and CEC and stop them using the chemical hydraulic fracturing system.

The group also asked the embassy to pass the request on to the US Congress.

Chemical fracking is a petroleum drilling process that pumps a solution of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to crack the rock layers and allow natural gas to flow out.

The network claimed this process would leave a huge amount of chemicals under the surface, which could contaminate the groundwater and weaken the bedrock – possibly causing an earthquake and releasing flammable methane gas into groundwater and the atmosphere.

“We are demanding that the US companies and also other companies that have concessions to drill for petroleum stop using the chemical fracking process.

“This is because we are concerned about the impact to health of the |people in local communities,” Smith said.

“Our observation of the Namoon site in Khon Kaen province found that a company used the toxic chemical zinc oxide, which is not shown in the environmental impact assessment report.

Packages of this chemical, which should be disposed of by a hazardous-waste-management company, were instead donated to a nearby school,” he said.

After handing in the letter, Smith said the embassy promised to investigate this matter and would discuss it with the US companies within seven days. He also stated that the embassy claimed it would take definite action against the companies if they were found guilty of lawbreaking.

Outside the embassy, members of the Stop Fracking Thailand Network displayed banners as police guarded the area.

There were some arguments between protesters and police but the campaign ended peacefully.

Apico has denied it used the fracking process at the Namoon site in Khon Kaen, and also that it had used zinc oxide in its operations there.

Pisutth Nilasinthop, public and community relations director of Apico (Khorat), said in an e-mail to The Nation late yesterday: “The government’s Department of Mineral Fuels confirmed no fracking at the DM-5 site [in Khon Kaen], and we also confirmed no zinc oxide on drilling operations at this site.”

On the issue of packages of zinc oxide found at a nearby school, the company explained that Waste Management Siam (WMS), a contractor to Apico, had used an improper bag to donate plastic bottles to the school and a recycler, but the company insisted it did not use zinc oxide in its operation.

The company gave assurance that the use of improper bags had been prohibited and measures were put in place so it could not happen in the future.

More airlines settle collusion lawsuit

Posted by pakin On March - 11 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

US law firms Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy and Hausfeld announced on Monday that three more airlines had decided to settle the class-action suit, boosting the settlement fund to US$39.5 million (Bt1.29 billion).

In late 2013, THAI was one of five airlines – Japan Airlines International, Air France, Vietnam Airlines and Malaysian Airline System – that agreed to a settlement of $22.2 million.

The airlines will have to pay the sum once a Californian court approves the settlements this year.

According to the law firms, the fund will be distributed to passengers who bought tickets for travel across the Pacific since 2000.

“Settlements have been reached with eight airlines in a class-action lawsuit involving the price of airline tickets. The settling defendants are: Air France; Cathay Pacific; Japan Airlines; Malaysia Airlines; Qantas; Singapore Airlines; Thai Airways; and Vietnam Airlines. The lawsuit continues against five non-settling defendant airlines: Air New Zealand; All Nippon Airways (ANA); China Airlines (Taiwan); EVA Airways; and Philippines Airlines,” the law firms said in a statement.

They also vowed to pursue the lawsuit against the other airlines that have failed to settle.

Philippine Airlines, Air New Zealand, ANA and Cathay Pacific Airways have claimed that the plaintiffs have not proven that the proposed settlement classes meet US federal commonality requirements. The suit was brought in 2007 against 26 airlines, alleged of fixing prices on tickets for trans-Pacific air travel. As a result, ticket purchasers may have paid more than was necessary.

This affected those who bought a ticket for air travel from one of those 26 airlines. To be eligible for refund, the bought tickets must include one flight segment between the US and Asia or Oceania. According to the plaintiffs’ law firms, a federal court in California will hold a hearing in this case on May 22, to consider whether to approve the settlements. If it does, the fund will be then distributed to the purchasers of the tickets in question.

According to the law firms, to be eligible for the fund, purchasers will need to submit a claim form online or by mail. The earliest deadline to file a claim is September 19, 2015, but they will have until 120 days after the settlements become final and effective to file a claim.

Purchasers who do not file a claim within a specified period will not get a payment and will give up the right to sue. Purchasers who want to keep the right to sue the defendants must exclude themselves from the settlement by April 17.