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ASEAN commit to eliminating marine plastic

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ASEAN commit to eliminating marine plastic | Thaiger

“At present, four ASEAN members are the world’s top ocean polluters, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.”

At the recent 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok last month the 10 member states of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) adopted “The Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in the ASEAN Region” in an effort to eliminate marine plastic debris in the region. ASEAN officials describe the document as a testament to the group’s attempts to address the problem in a serious and sustainable manner.

“ASEAN agreed to concentrate on the issue of marine debris, which has a widespread impact on the well-being, health and hygiene of people, marine life and resources” said PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

Thai PBS reports that, at present, four of the ASEAN members are the world’s top ocean polluters – Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand – according to a 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy. Each country is now individually attempting to curb the cataclysmic issue.

For example, Indonesia is the world’s second-largest producer of plastic waste after China, contributing around 3.22 million tonnes annually. With Bali’s beaches suffering from the plastic litter problem for years, the island’s governor has imposed a ban on single-use plastics, aiming to reduce the amount of plastic waste by as much as 70% within a year.

ASEAN commit to eliminating marine plastic | News by Thaiger

The Philippines generates an estimated 1.88 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. In a show of its seriousness in dealing with the problem, the Philippines returned 69 shipping containers of illegal rubbish back to Canada after a long-running dispute between the two countries. Likewise, Malaysia, the world’s top destination for plastic waste after China, will send as much as 3,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste back to the countries of origin.

Thailand is currently the world’s sixth largest source of plastic polluting the ocean, with 1.03 million tonnes each year. The government has taken a proactive approach by initiating the Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management for 2018 – 2030. The goal is to reduce or eliminate three types of plastic by the end of this year, including plastic cap seals on water bottles, oxo-degradable plastics and microbeads.

By the end of 2022, Thailand hopes to be free of plastic bags less than 36 microns in thickness, styrofoam food boxes, plastic straws and single-use plastic cups. Finally, 100% of plastic waste will be recyclable by 2027.

“When you reuse, the reduction comes” said Dr. Thevarak Rochanapruk, an expert in petrochemicals and a member of The Interdisciplinary Network of The Royal Institute of Thailand.

“This policy really is a good start, very good, but now they cannot do it alone. The government needs help from public sector and from the media, academia and so on. Raising public awareness is the key because they are the ones using plastic” he added.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Thai PBS

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Politics

Malaysia joins calls to hold emergency ASEAN summit over Myanmar political situation

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Malaysia joins calls to hold emergency ASEAN summit over Myanmar political situation | Thaiger

Malaysia is joining calls to hold an emergency ASEAN summit to discuss the political turmoil in its neighbouring country of Myanmar. Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin says he supports Indonesia’s president who originally proposed the emergency meeting.

Muhyiddin says the continued use of lethal violence against unarmed civilians was unacceptable, and urged Myanmar’s military leadership “to change its course and choose a path towards peaceful solutions.”

“There is no question about it, the use of live ammunition against peaceful protests is unacceptable. This deplorable situation must stop immediately.”

“We in Malaysia, and the larger ASEAN community, cannot afford to see our brotherly nation of Myanmar become so destabilised at the hands of a selected few, who seek to promote their own vested interests.”

Since the coup, Indonesia has led efforts within ASEAN to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. Its president called for democracy to be restored and violence to be halted, joining other nations in condemning the military-led violence against anti-coup protesters.

“I will immediately call the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam as head of ASEAN to as soon as possible hold a high-level ASEAN meeting to discuss the crisis in Myanmar.”

ASEAN members discussed the political situation in Myanmar earlier this month, with the Thai Foreign Ministry now joining the growing list of countries to pressure the military to hold talks with political dissidents to end the conflict. But, Thailand still hasn’t outright condemned the coup. Many say Thailand may be wanting to get more involved as it prepares to see an influx of Myanmar nationals fleeing to Thailand to escape the increasing violence in their home country.

Just recently, the military coup leader in Myanmar made statements that indicated the military was okay with pending sanctions from the international community, implying that the government was willing to be isolated from the world.

Myanmar’s most powerful Buddhist group has also criticised the military’s use of violence and has appeared to break from historically aligning itself with the government. The group says it will stop activities in an apparent move to protest the political situation.

The United Nations has also criticised the violence against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, citing women and children are among the victims killed as increasing concerns of civilian casualties mount.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Myanmar

Thailand calls on Myanmar military to release detainees and to de-escalate the situation

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Thailand calls on Myanmar military to release detainees and to de-escalate the situation | Thaiger
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand is urging Myanmar to release everyone who was detained by the military following last month’s coup. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement today calling on a de-escalation of the country’s situation where many have been injured and even killed in protests.

“As a neighbor, sharing a long common border, and with the Myanmar and Thai peoples having close interactions in many aspects, Thailand continues to follow developments in Myanmar with much concern. As with other countries, we are saddened by the loss of lives and the sufferings of the people of Myanmar due to escalating violence in the country.

We call for de-escalation of the situation and release of detainees. We also urge all parties concerned to seek a peaceful solution for Myanmar and its people through dialogue via any constructive channels.”

Thailand has been preparing temporary facilities, in areas bordering Myanmar, to help Burmese citizens who are leaving Myanmar to escape the crackdown from the military and police following the recent takeover.

Recently, there have been trilateral talks held between the foreign affairs ministers of Thailand and Indonesia with a senior Myanmar military official.

SOURCES: Thai PBS World| Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Economy

Britain to apply for membership with Asia Pacific free trading bloc

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Britain to apply for membership with Asia Pacific free trading bloc | Thaiger

In the wake of Britain’s Brexit and separation from the EU trading bloc, the UK is now applying to become part of the free trade bloc made up of 11 Asia and Pacific nations. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership also includes Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, a potential market population of around 500 million. The countries generate more than 13% of the world’s income.

The request will be made formally tomorrow by the UK International Trade Secretary. Negotiations are expected to start in March and continue during the northern hemisphere Spring.

There would also be the potential for faster and cheaper visas for business people travelling between participating nations.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was formed in 2018 and includes, in alphabetical order, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Former US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the free trade bloc back in 2016.

The UK hopes the deal will reduce trade tariffs between the member countries. It includes a promise to eliminate or reduce 95% of import charges – although some of these charges are kept to protect some home-made products, for example Japan’s rice and Canada’s dairy industry.

In return, countries co-operate on trade regulations, quality controls and food standards. Member countries can negotiate separate trade deals as well within the bloc. The UK is the first non-founding country of the CPATTP to apply for membership and, if accepted, will be the bloc’s second biggest economy after Japan.

But the International Trade Secretary warns that the short-terms gains for UK households and business will be limited. The UK already has trade deals with 7 of the 11 countries. The reality is that CPTPP nations account for less than 10% of UK exports, a fraction of what it was doing with the EU.

But commentators say that the real advantages could emerge in the future, particular if the US joins, as President Biden has hinted. That would allow a back door deal for trade with the US without necessarily having an individual trade deal with the US.

In total, CPTPP nations accounted for 8.4% of UK exports in 2019.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP was hammered out late last year and is a free trade agreement between the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The 15 member countries account for about 30% of the world’s population (2.2 billion people) and 30% of global GDP as of 2020, making it the biggest trade bloc in history.

Unifying the preexisting bilateral agreements between the 10 member ASEAN and 5 of its major trade partners, the RCEP was signed on 15 November 2020 at a virtual ASEAN Summit hosted by Vietnam.

With the US locked out of RCEP and currently not part of CPATPP, plus its ongoing trade war with China, the US economy is waging an expensive gamble with its isolationist trade policies.

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