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BANGKOK, Feb 6 — The United States will not fully reactivate its military alliance with Thailand as long as the junta-controlled country refuses to restore democracy, a US diplomat warned yesterday.
“There has to be a full restoration both of the institutions of governance and justice as well as the full restoration of a duly democratically elected civilian government,” the senior State Department official told journalists.
It follows a recent visit by Daniel Russel, the most senior US official to travel to the kingdom since Thai generals imposed martial law and took over in a coup last May.
The United States strongly condemned the coup at the time, with chief diplomat John Kerry calling for a return to civilian rule via democratic elections.
Washington and Bangkok maintain a military alliance dating to the Cold War and the fight against communism in Southeast Asia, notably during the Vietnam War.
US and Thai armed forces remain tightly linked, but the United States cancelled joint military exercises after the coup and suspended a small part of its military assistance to Thailand. — AFP
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HONG KONG — China has signed a memorandum of understanding with Thailand to build 542 miles of double-track railway from Nong Khai on the Laos border to the Thai industrialized eastern seaboard.
The MOU was signed on the sidelines of a two-day regional summit in Bangkok, and is seen as consolidating China’s influence in a country that has had strong ties with the U.S., but which have cooled since the military coup in May, according to a report by Reuters.
“China will be responsible for the construction and development of the rail network and Thailand will take part in preparing the groundwork for construction,” Thai Transport Minister Prajin Junthong told the agency.
China has provisionally agreed with Laos to build a railway from Kunming through Laos, with the aim of connecting with Thailand. China will also develop another, 82-mile rail line linking the central province of Saraburi to Bangkok, about 67 mile away. Construction would begin in 2016, said Air Marshal Prajin.
Earlier this month, Thailand’s military-stacked Legislature approved a preliminary agreement on the China deal, putting the value at $10.66 billion.
Mayasu Hosumi, president of the Japan External Trade Organisation in Thailand (JETRO), said the rail network was “indispensable for the enhancement of production networks” in the region.
The rail development will link Thailand’s container port of Laem Chabang with Laos and revive the gateway port’s single rail transfer project that aims to ease the flow of containers to and from the terminals. It is part of Laem Shebang’s phase three development that was put on hold by the military coup.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attended the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) summit in Bangkok alongside prime ministers and presidents from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Li is the most high-profile foreign leader to visit Thailand since the coup, signalling, Thailand says, its return to normal following months of political unrest, said Reuters.
The army seized power in May to end months of political turmoil, but the economy of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy has struggled in the face of weak exports and sluggish domestic demand. The economy grew just 0.2 percent in the first nine months of the year, although the central bank said its GDP has expanded in the last quarter.
Factory output in November declined 3.5 percent year-over-year, down for a 20th straight month.
Exports, which are equal to more than 60 percent of the economy, picked up in September and October but slipped in November. The central bank forecast exports to contract 0.5 percent this year and rise only 1 percent in 2015.
2014-12-20 09:21 Xinhua Web Editor: Qian Ruisha
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Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Friday that China and Thailand have agreed to kickstart mutually beneficial cooperation on agro-product trade and railway.
China eyes deeper cooperation with Thailand and hopes for a more balanced bilateral trade and economic relationship, Li told reporters after meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.[Special coverage]
The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding on farm produce trade cooperation. China, Li said, has agreed to double its purchase on the basis of the volume the two sides agreed upon last year.
China expects the new initiative to empower both China and Thailand to resist risks of international market fluctuations and help improve the livelihood of Thai farmers, he said.
“Only China has such a big market and a huge purchasing power which could consume the big agricultural production of rice, rubber and others of Thailand,” said Li.
In addition, the two governments also inked a memorandum of understanding on railway cooperation.
Li said the Chinese and Thai governments have agreed to build Thailand’s first standard-gauge railway lines with a total length of more than 800 km, which has been approved by the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand.
The agreement allows China to invest in two dual-track rail lines in Thailand that will span 734 km and 133 km respectively and connect northeast Thailand’s Nong Khai province, Bangkok and eastern Rayong province.
The project is estimated to cost some 10.6 billion U.S. dollars.
“This is the expansion, extension and further confirmation of the previous agreement that the Chinese and Thai governments reached last year,” said Li.
The Chinese premier said he hopes that the two sides will speed up preparation for the railway project and lay a solid basis for the beginning of construction at an early date.
The new railway will also benefit neighboring countries if being extended to other places of the region, Li said.
Chinese standards, equipment and manufacturing capacity will all be used in building the Thai railway, which helps China export its manufacturing capacity to the rest of the world, Li said.
For his part, Prayut said Thailand and China are friends sharing weal and woe, and his country highly values its relations with China.
Bilateral cooperation on railway and farm produce trade is of vital significance to Thailand, and is conducive to regional inter-connectivity and development, said Prayut, adding that Thailand will cooperate closely with the Chinese side to facilitate the implementation of relevant cooperation agreements.
Thailand, he said, will take the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year as an opportunity to elevate its relationship with China to a new height.
Li is here to attend the fifth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation.
The Chinese premier said he looks forward to having an extensive exchange of views with all parties on deepening regional trade and economic cooperation, enhancing inter-connectivity and promoting innovation in industrial cooperation.
Hailing China’s “crucial” role in the GMS, Prayut said Thailand is willing to join hands with China and other parties of the GMS mechanism for more fruitful results.
The GMS Economic Cooperation Program, which was started in 1992 by six countries along the Mekong River — Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, aims to pool their efforts for improving infrastructure, promoting trade and investment and stimulating economic growth.
On a broader scale, Li said, the GMS cooperation will further enrich China’s partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
China, he added, stands ready to cultivate stable, peaceful and friendly relations with its ASEAN neighbors.
- Thai cabinet approves draft MoU on Sino-Thai rail co-op 2014-11-26
- High-speed railway to link China and Thailand: Thai official 2014-09-16
- Thai SMEs link to world 2014-08-15
June 28, 2014
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Fishing at rapids in Siphandone area, site of proposed Don Sahong hydro-electric dam. Photo: International Rivers
Laos has agreed to consult its neighbours before starting construction of a second controversial dam on the Mekong River.
It’s already going ahead with the much bigger Xayaburi dam to supply power to China, despite opposition from Vietnam and Cambodia.
Agreement to allow environmental assessments and for a formal consultation process on the proposed Don Sahong dam was reached at a meeting of the Mekong River Commission in Bangkok.
The commission comprises Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Laos accepted environmental and other studies for the Xayaburi dam after pressure from its neighbours, but went ahead with construction even while they were being conducted.
But this time Vientiane has given an assurance work will not start during the six-month consultation process, describing the move as a “courtesy”.
The Don Sahong project is the second of 11 hydroelectric dams planned for the Mekong mainstream, which has raised concerns about the impact on the environment and livelihoods of millions of people.
It will generate 260 megawatts of electricity, mainly for export to Thailand and Cambodia compared with Xayaburi’s 1,260 megawatts, around 95 percent of which will go to Thailand.
The environmental group International Rivers is among those to have welcomed the decision.
But it says further action is needed “to ensure that the rapid progress of dam building on the Mekong … does not go unchecked”.
Officials say recommendations resulting from the studies of the Don Sahong project would not be binding on Laos.
Posted on 27 June 2014
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Two Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins spotted at Tbong Kla deep pool
© WWF- Cambodia/ Gerad Ryan
WWF welcomes the Lao Government’s decision to have the Don Sahong hydropower project undergo a formal consultation process, a decision likely to delay construction of the project.
The consultation process requires Laos to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with the dam, and conduct and share studies on the project’s environmental and the social impacts. The process will take at least six months to complete.
“Laos is now promising to do what they already signed up to under the Mekong agreement, and should have done months ago” said Marc Goichot, WWF-Greater Mekong’s lead on sustainable hydropower. “Their decision to consult on the Don Sahong project, and share critical details about the project’s impacts, comes after intense pressure from neighbouring countries. It is critical that pressure is maintained to ensure Laos delivers on their promise.”
In September last year, Laos announced its decision to proceed with the Don Sahong dam, bypassing the Mekong River Commision’s (MRC) consultation process.
The much-criticised project was discussed at the June 26-27 meeting of the MRC – an inter-governmental agency made up of representatives from the four Lower Mekong nations — Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Don Sahong dam threatens the Mekong’s critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting the world’s largest inland fishery at risk. Close to 200,000 people have signed WWF’s petition calling on the dam builder, Mega First, to pull out of the project.
“We thank people around the world who signed the WWF’s petition to stop the Don Sahong dam,” added Goichot. “Mega First would do well to listen to the growing voices of opposition to this disastrous project and reconsider their engagement.”
The Don Sahong dam is the second dam on the Lower Mekong mainstem, following the controversial Xayaburi dam that Laos has begun constructing despite opposition from neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam.
“The Mekong River Commission’s joint decision-making process was effectively broken in 2012 when Laos decided unilaterally to proceed with Xayaburi dam, against the express wishes of Vietnam and Cambodia,” added Goichot.
“There is currently little faith in the MRC’s process to ensure joint decisions are made for the benefit of all Mekong nations. If Laos fails to be held to account, the MRC will soon lose its legitimacy and 60 million people living in the Mekong basin will suffer.”
Crowd of children with Pra or River catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus). River catfish are closely related to the Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas), a critically endangered Mekong endemic specieis. The Mekong giant catfish migrates from the Tonle Sap Lake to the Mekong River at the end of the rainy season each year and a dam like Don Sahong would block their migration.
© Zeb Hogan / WWF-Canon
เวียดนามส่งออกข้าวกว่า 2 ล้านตัน จีนยังครองแชมป์นำเข้าข้าวรายใหญ่ – Vietnam exports over 2 mln tons of rice, over 40 pct to China
โดย ASTVผู้จัดการออนไลน์ 28 พฤษภาคม 2557 14:52 น.
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ภาพแฟ้มเอเอฟพีวันที่ 18 ก.ย.2556 ชาวนาพ่นยาฆ่าแมลงลงในนาข้าวชานกรุงฮานอย รายงานของสมาคมอาหารเวียดนามระบุว่า ตั้งแต่ต้นปี 2557 จนถึงวันที่ 22 พ.ค. เวียดนามส่งออกข้าวไปแล้วทั้งสิ้น 2 ล้านตัน โดยจีนครองแชมป์นำเข้าข้าวรายใหญ่ที่สุดของประเทศ ที่ 40% ของการส่งออกทั้งหมด.– Agence France-Presse/Hoang Dinh Nam.
ซินหวา – เวียดนามทำรายได้มากถึง 899 ล้านดอลลาร์จากการขายข้าวทั้งหมด 2.061 ล้านตัน ไปยังตลาดโลกนับจนถึงวันที่ 22 พ.ค.2557 โดยมากกว่า 40% เป็นข้าวที่ขายให้แก่จีน ตามการเปิดเผยของสมาคมอาหารเวียดนาม (VFA)
ในช่วง 3 สัปดาห์แรกของเดือน พ.ค. เวียดนามส่งออกข้าวทั้งสิ้น 309,000 ตัน คิดเป็นมูลค่า 133 ล้านดอลลาร์ ตามรายงานของศูนย์ข้อมูลอุตสาหกรรมและการค้าเวียดนาม ภายใต้การดูแลของกระทรวงอุตสาหกรรมและการค้าเวียดนาม ระบุ
ส่วนรายงานของกระทรวงเกษตรและพัฒนาชนบทเวียดนาม เผยว่า การส่งออกข้าวของเวียดนามในเดือน พ.ค. คาดว่าปริมาณจะลดลง 10.2% และมูลค่าลดลง 7.3% เมื่อเทียบต่อปี
อย่างไรก็ตาม ยังมีสัญญาณบวกสำหรับข้าวเวียดนาม เนื่องจากราคาส่งออกโดยเฉลี่ยในช่วง 4 เดือนแรกของปีนี้อยู่ที่ 456.19 ดอลลาร์ต่อตัน ขยับเพิ่มขึ้น 4.4% เมื่อเทียบต่อปี
ในช่วงเดือน ม.ค.-เม.ย. ตลาดฟิลิปปินส์ เติบโตขึ้นอย่างมาก ขยับขึ้นมาเป็นผู้นำเข้าข้าวรายใหญ่อันดับ 2 ของเวียดนาม โดยครองส่วนแบ่งตลาดที่ 18.66% รองจากจีน ที่ยังคงรั้งตำแหน่งผู้นำเข้าข้าวรายใหญ่ที่สุดของเวียดนาม ด้วยสัดส่วน 41.75%.
- ลูกเรือประมงเวียดนามเผยถูกเรือจีนล้อม และกระแทกจมทะเล
- คลิปสลด ..หญิงเวียดนามจุดไฟเผาฆ่าตัวตายประท้วงจีน
Vietnam has earned some 899 million U. S. dollars from selling 2.061 million tons of rice to world market as of May 22 in 2014, with over 40 percent sold to China, said Vietnam Food Association (VFA) on Tuesday.
In the first three weeks of May, Vietnam has exported 309,000 tons of rice, worth 133 million U.S. dollars, Vietnam Industry and Trade Information Center under the Ministry of Industry and Trade quoted VFA as saying.
According to a recent report by the Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam’s rice exports in May are expected to dip 10.2 percent in volume and 7.3 percent in value year-on-year.
However, the country’s rice enjoyed a positive signal as the average export price of the product in the first four months of 2014 stood at 456.19 U.S. dollars per ton, up 4.4 percent year-on- year, said MARD.
The Philippines was the market that saw remarkable growth in January-April period with an increase of 5.26 times in volume and 5.79 times in value year-on-year.
The report said the Philippines ranked the second among Vietnam’ s large rice importers in four-month period with 18.66 percent of market shares while China maintained Vietnam’s biggest rice importer, accounting for 41.75 percent of the market shares.
FAO Estimates Vietnam Rice Exports Will Increase to 7.2 Million Tons in 2014, Up 8% from Previous Year
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May 14, 2014
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated Vietnam’s milled rice exports to increase to about 7.2 million tons in 2014, up about 8% from about 6.7 million tons in 2013 due to higher production and increased export demand from Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, China and the Philippines backed by low prices. In 2012, Vietnam exported about 7.6 million tons.
However, in the last week the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) lowered its 2014 rice export target to 6.2 million tons from the earlier target of 6.5 – 7 million tons due to heavy competition from India and Thailand. USDA estimates Vietnam to export 6.5 million tons of rice in 2014.
Vietnam exported 1.82 million tons of rice in January 1 – May 8, 2014 period, according to the VFA, down about 35% from about 2.8 million tons exported during the same period in 2013.
In its country brief on Vietnam, the FAO has estimated Vietnam’s total paddy rice production at about 44.2 million tons (around 27.6 million tons of milled rice) in 2014, marginally higher than about 44 million tons (around 27.5 million tons of milled rice) produced in 2013. The UN agency however, forecasts Vietnam’s paddy rice production from 2014 winter/spring crop at 20.3 million tons, similar to last year’s production, despite shifting part of the rice area to other crops, due to higher yields, favorable weather conditions, and adequate water supplies.
Domestic wholesale prices of rice continued to decline in April due to increased supplies from the 2013-14 main season winter-spring (January – July) harvest and lower cross-border exports to China, according to the FAO. The one million ton government procurement program, which began in mid-March, limited the decline in prices to some extent, but are generally low, says the FAO.
The VFA has expressed concern about the dependency of Vietnam rice exports on the Chinese market, both official and unofficial exports. Local sources note that some Chinese buyers have also defaulted on payments, another risk.