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ASEAN’s main conferences on today in Bangkok

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The 34th ASEAN Summit started yesterday with various break-out meetings before the main leaders’ meeting takes place today and tomorrow. Wireless Road (Witthaya Road) is closed Saturday and Sunday as part of the weekend’s security arrangements.

Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered a speech at the opening of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network Meeting, one of the important events of ASEAN, focusing on strengthening the economy and enhancing the role of women in order to achieve equality in the region.

Many countries in ASEAN have gradually succeeded in achieving this change and ensure the contribution of women gets more attention at every level. It is necessary to focus on sustainable development for the benefit of the next generation. Thailand, as the Chair of ASEAN in 2019, has resolved to address all issues including accessing markets through digital channels; supporting access to financial services and enhancing skills for small and medium enterprises and small-scale entrepreneurs, along with women entrepreneurs and fellow workers in a sustainable manner.

At The Athenee Hotel in Wireless Road, Bangkok, representatives of member states attended a meeting of the Permanent Representative Committee of ASEAN yesterday ahead of the 34th ASEAN Summit this weekend.

Meeting rooms have been allocated for conferences of ASEAN leaders in attendance, foreign and economic ministers of the bloc, and representatives of business councils, Chambers of Commerce and the industrial sector. The main conferences will be held today.

A Media Centre set up at the Grand Centre Point Hotel, Bangkok, accommodates members of the regional news media.

A bit of ASEAN history…

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

At the Laem Thaen, Bang Saen Beach, five statesmen from five neighboring lands huddled together, hammering out the final text of a short and simple document containing just five articles which marked a new beginning for their countries in the region.

They sat down together to make history on August 8, 1967, in the main hall of the Department of Foreign Affairs building, Bangkok. Their speech and messages went far beyond, for they represented their countries and the dreams and aspirations of the five hundred million people who called them homes.

“We cannot survive for long as independent but isolated people unless we think and act together and unless we prove by deeds that we belong to a family of Southeast Asian nations,” Tun Abdul Razak, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.

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Thailand News Today | The RCEP reset, Hotel Talkfest, Protesters to be arrested | November 16

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Thailand News Today | The RCEP reset, Hotel Talkfest, Protesters to be arrested | November 16 | The Thaiger

First day of the week with another Thailand News Today, all the latest news from around Thailand and the region.

Hoteliers to discuss how to revive Thailand’s crippled hospitality industry

The Tourism and Sports Ministry is holding a talkfest with15 hotel operators expected to join to discuss recovery solutions for the battered industry.

Some top executives are planned to pitch in on revival plan including those from Dusit International, Erawan Group, Asset World Corp and Minor Hotels. After those from the industry weigh in on possible solutions for the plan, the proposals will be discussed at the November 24 Tourism Authority of Thailand meeting. TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says that if needed, they’ll request an additional budget for whatever plan they come up with.

Bill Heinecke from the Minor Group, one of Thailand’s largest hotel groups, is a strong proponent of opening up Thailand’s borders and managing the situation as tourists return.

Protest members could face assault charges as police gather evidence

Core protest members could face assault charges as police gather evidence after Saturday’s demonstration in Bangkok, which saw 2 policemen injured.

“Mob Fest” and “Bad Student” protest members staged the demonstration at Democracy Monument where they wrapped a 30 square metre cloth around the monument. The cloth included numerous demands and insults on it.

Police say that assault charges will be filed after one policeman was struck on the head by a flag pole and another was hit in the face by a hard object as they tried to prevent some of the protesters from breaking through a police cordon.

In a symbolic gesture thousands of the students turned their backs on a passing motorcade as HM the King and Queen of Thailand headed to the opening of new stations along the Blue MRT line.

15 Asia-Pacific countries form the world’s largest trade bloc

After 8 gruelling years of negotiation, 15 countries have signed onto the largest free trade bloc in history. In a joint statement, the leaders of the countries, signatories of the trade deal, say RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) will form a crucial part of economic recovery once the pandemic is over.

The deal excludes the US, which withdrew from a rival Asia-Pacific trade pact 3 years ago. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017. That deal would have involve 12 countries and was supported by Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama as a way to counter China’s surging power in the region.

Now, the leaders of China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the 10 ASEAN nations, have signed the free trade agreement which covers 2.2 billion people and 30% of the world’s economic output. The new free trade bloc will be bigger than both the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the European Union.

The combined GDP of the signatories was about 30% of global GDP, covering nearly 28% of global trade.

The deal is being seen as a significant step towards removing Asia Pacific trade barriers, and brings China under the fold of a larger regional bloc as its massive economy looks elsewhere for trading partners after the bruising US-China trade war.

Roadside bomb explodes as rangers drive to a wedding in Southern Thailand

In the southern province of Narathawit, an area troubled by insurgency-related violence right on the Thai-Malaysia border, a bomb exploded as rangers were driving to a wedding.

None of the soldiers were injured, but the bomb caused major damage to the pickup truck.

Hitman arrested over 14 year old cold-case murder in Pattaya of NZ businessman

An arrest has been made in a 14 year old Pattaya cold case following the arrest of a Thai man who allegedly murdered a New Zealander, Stephen Miller in 2006. The 40 year old is now in custody in Phetchabun province after a raid led by Crime Suppression Division. ‘Pokpong’ was wanted under an arrest warrant issued by Pattaya Court back in April 2006, on charges of murder and illegal possession of carrying a gun in public.

You can read the whole sordid backstory about Mr Miller and his Thai girlfriend at the time at thethaiger.com

Flooded underpass finally drained after locals get officials’ attention with viral photos

A flooded underpass in Nakhon Ratchasima has finally been drained after locals posted photos of them pretending to turn the area into a tourist attraction and swimming pool.

The State Railway of Thailand waited for almost a month before draining the water after the area was flooded by heavy rain.

But one enterprising Thai man came up with the idea to publicise the problem as he and some friends posed lounging in inflatable lilos on the water. Last Friday’s post went viral and got the attention of transport officials.

“I decided to post it to get the attention of the SRT. People here have nobody to turn to.”

In response to the viral post, the railway agency said the soil was blocking the pipes. Meanwhile no more free swimming pool for the two Thai guys.

Alleged drug dealers arrested after help from a stray dog

Police arrested 2 alleged drug dealers after a stray dog dropped off a bag full of amphetamine pills outside a post office in the northern province Phrae.

No one knows exactly where the dog found the bag of drugs, but surveillance camera footage shows the dog carrying the bag and dropping it off at the Rong Kwang district post office. The employees at the post office said it seemed as if the dog wanted to report a crime and they praised the dog for being so smart.

Police say 639 amphetamine pills were in the bag. Officers were able to track down the suspects. A 38 year old man and a 37 year old woman were arrested on charges of drug possession.

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15 Asia-Pacific countries form the world’s largest trade bloc, the great RCEP reset

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15 Asia-Pacific countries form the world’s largest trade bloc, the great RCEP reset | The Thaiger

After 8 gruelling years of negotiation, 15 countries have signed onto the largest free trade bloc in history. In a joint statement, the leaders of the countries, signatories of the trade deal, say RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) will form a crucial part of economic recovery once the pandemic is over.

The deal excludes the US, which withdrew from a rival Asia-Pacific trade pact 3 years ago. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017. That deal would have involve 12 countries and was supported by Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama as a way to counter China’s surging power in the region.

Now, the leaders of China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the 10 ASEAN nations, have signed the free trade agreement which covers 2.2 billion people and 30% of the world’s economic output. The new free trade bloc will be bigger than both the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the European Union.

The deal sets the terms of trade in goods and services, cross-border investment and new rules for increasingly important areas such as electronic commerce, telecommunications and intellectual property.

The leaders’ statement said the landmark trade pact “demonstrates our strong commitment to supporting economic recovery, inclusive development, job creation and strengthening regional supply chains as well as our support for an open, inclusive, rules-based trade and investment arrangement”.

The combined GDP of the signatories was about 30% of global GDP, covering nearly 28% of global trade.

India pulled out of negotiations last year because of concerns it would not be able to protect its domestic industry as well as its agricultural sector. India’s exclusion from the bloc reduces its size by some 1.4 billion people. But the statement from the signatories says the door is still open for India to join in and it would be “welcome”.

The deal is being seen as a significant step towards removing Asia Pacific trade barriers, and brings China under the fold of a larger regional bloc as its massive economy looks elsewhere for trading partners after the bruising US-China trade war.

Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, says the deal is “a victory of multilateralism and free trade”. Australia’s PM, Scott Morrison, says the deal will “open up new doors for Australian farmers, businesses and investors”.

The trend for a more integrated trade flow around the region has suddenly accelerated amid the feuding between the US and China. The 2 economic superpowers had imposed billions of dollars of punitive trade tariffs on each other’s exports.

Analysts hail the RCEP agreement, saying that it’s flexible enough to stretch to fit the “disparate needs of member countries as diverse as Australia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam”. But the agreement doesn’t establish unified standards on labour and the environment or force countries to open services and other vulnerable areas of their economies.

Donald Trump pulled the plug on negotiations when he pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal previously which was seen as a way of curbing China’s economic influence. He later initiated the heated US-China trade war in 019 maintaining he wanted to reduce the amount of imports from China, saying the goods could be built back in the US.

15 Asia-Pacific countries form the world's largest trade bloc, the great RCEP reset | News by The Thaiger

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Asian trade deal to be signed today

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Asian trade deal to be signed today | The Thaiger

Today, 15 countries are set to sign a wide-reaching Asian trade deal to help them recover from the Covid pandemic. Such countries as China, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan are part of the pact which also includes 10 south east Asian economies – the 10 countries of ASEAN.

The deal is seen as a Chinese-led alternative to the US trade initiative, which is now defunct. Alexander Capri, a trade expert at the National University of Singapore Business School, says the deal complements China’s overall envision of its influence and infrastructure spreading worldwide.

“The RCEP ‘solidifies China’s broader regional geopolitical ambitions around the Belt and Road initiative.'”

The new trading bloc will be the largest such organisation in the world.

Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, says the RCEP can help deliver economic growth in the region as Covid has further reminded such nations of why trade matters.

Such a deal can help shrink costs and allow companies toexport products anywhere within the bloc without meeting country-specific requirements. Environmental protections and labour rights have been left out of the deal as it centres mainly around intellectual property at this stage.

India, however, will be noticeably absent from the deal as it pulled out last year over concerns about cheap Chinese goods entering the country. Despite its absence, the deal is the largest of its kind in terms of GDP with members accounting for about 30% of global GDP.

A top economic adviser says the US could respond to the deal by joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, but concerns regarding this are minimal as previously the US had a negative response to the deal with fears over job losses topping its list.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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