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US-China trade war accelerates formation of RCEP trade bloc

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US-China trade war accelerates formation of RCEP trade bloc | The Thaiger

The escalation of the trade war between China and the US might help push forward negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement.

RCEP, once formed, will be the largest trading bloc in the world.

Trade ministers from China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN member states met in Beijing last weekend for the latest round of RCEP. Ministers confirmed their commitment to concluding talks by the end of the year end and signing the agreement in 2020. They are all scheduled to meet in Bangkok next month to finalise the agreement.

The RCEP meeting was held amid an intensifying trade war as the US President Donald Trump announced additional tariffs on US$300 billion of Chinese goods, triggering retaliatory measures from China. That’s spurred a war of words between Japan and South Korea as well as traditional trade partners and pathways are disrupted. The countries involved hope that RCEP may provide a forum for members to ease tensions and ensure smooth continuity of regional supply chains amid growing geopolitical tensions.

Negotiations on a total of seven chapters and three annexes have already been concluded, while remaining chapters or annexes near conclusion. Recently concluded annexes include telecommunications, financial and professional services.

Thailand’s Trade Negotiations Department Director General, Oramon Sapthaweetham, said the RCEP agreement should provide additional benefits to Thailand’s exporters, on top of existing free trade agreements.

For examples, Thai exporters should be able to ship more machinery, electrical appliances, plastics, chemicals, autos and parts, tires, fibre, apparel, tapioca and paper to other RCEP countries.  Additionally, RCEP should lead to clearer trade and investment regulations.

The agreement should also encourage Thai investors to invest in other RCEP countries, in areas where Thailand has strong expertise, such as in construction, retail, health-related businesses as well as the movie and entertainment industries, especially in post-production and animation.

The new RCEP is intended to cover a wide range of issues from trade and investment to services, as well as new areas of business such as electronic commerce. Late last month, the Thai Cabinet gave trade negotiators a mandate to negotiate the intellectual property issue in RCEP.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Thailand and South Korea partner on development of electric buses

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Thailand and South Korea partner on development of electric buses | The Thaiger

Original story by Shin Ji-hye

An all-electric bus sits on the campus at King Mongkut’s University of Technology in Thonburi, Bangkok. The electric bus is a joint project between Korea and Thailand, led mainly by Korean automaker Edison Motors, which currently provides public transport services with eco-friendly buses at Namsan in Seoul and on Jeju Island.

The project involves 11 organisations from both sides, including Korea’s Industry Ministry and Korean Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning. The Thai side includes the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, where the bus is being tested.

Kitchanon Ruangjirakit, a lecturer at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, says they are testing if the all-electric bus is suitable for the hot climate and traffic congestion of places like Bangkok.

“We are jointly working on traffic data collection, standards, energy consumption and battery capacity with Edison’s electric bus,.”

They plan to share the results of their research with the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority and the Ministry of Transport there, so the government can use the information in its future electric bus purchases.

When the systems have all been fully tested, the bus will be able to run 200 kilometres on a single charge. It uses an LG Chem battery.

The project, however, is only for research and not for commercial use at this stage. If Edison wants to produce electric buses in Bangkok, it has to take part in a bidding process. The Thai government plans to bid on 35 electric buses in the near future. Edison is willing to join the bidding, according to the government official.

Narit Therdsteerasukdi, deputy secretary-general of the Thailand Board of Investment, says Thailand is in the beginning stage of the EV industry and there is a long way to go.

“Thailand is the biggest exporter of cars (as an assembler) in ASEAN. We have 1,000 local parts suppliers. We are ready for the next step of the automotive industry. The Thai government intends to encourage its agencies to use electric vehicles in the future to create demand.”

“Some companies like Samsung, LG, Posco and Hanwha have invested in Thailand for more than 30 years. We hope more Korean investors are coming in the near future.”

“We are also trying hard to attract Korean battery makers, LG Chem and Samsung SDI, because we would like to build a whole supply chain of electric vehicles in Thailand. Not only car assembly, but we also want to build key parts of EVs like battery and motors.”

SOURCE: The Nation | The Korea Herald

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Police seeking arrest warrants for planners of August 2 Bangkok bombs

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Police seeking arrest warrants for planners of August 2 Bangkok bombs | The Thaiger

ORIGINAL PHOTO: Reuters

Police now believe that three suspects in the August 2 Bangkok bombings plotted much the attacks in a neighbouring country. Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon reported the latest in the investigations to the media today.

Gen Prawit reported that the three suspects were actively involved and have fled back to their country. Without mentioning the country (presumably Malaysia), Prawit said that police are seeking the assistance of their neighbouring counterparts to arrest and return the suspects to Thailand for questioning.

Police have also reported that the attacks were planned near the Thai-Malaysian border at a meeting of the planners, bomb-makers and attackers. A total of 15 suspects are believed to be involved in the bombings.

Meanwhile, two detained suspects in the bombings are back in Bangkok after being transported from Narathiwat. More about that story HERE. The Metropolitan Police will seek an extension to their lawful detention at the Bangkok South Criminal Court tomorrow.

Both suspects have been charged with organised crime, attempted murder, carrying explosives and illegal possession of explosives.

The two men are accused of planting two bombs on the steps of the Royal Thai Police HQ in the Thursday late afternoon. At the time authorities claimed the bombs were dummy devices. The bags contained a bomb that was set to go off at 8am on August 2 but were defused by bomb disposal officers. The other bombs went off in locations around Bangkok between 7-9am on August 2, during Bangkok’s morning peak hour.

Six bombs and six incendiary devices detonated on August 2 as Bangkok hosted the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. Police believe the day was chosen to co-incide with the regional meeting to ’embarrass’ the Thai government.

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Air Asia celebrates ASEAN Day with a special Airbus A320

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Air Asia celebrates ASEAN Day with a special Airbus A320 | The Thaiger

AirAsia introduced a ‘Sustainable ASEAN’ colour-scheme on a new Airbus A320 to mark ASEAN Day celebrations last week. Thailand is the Chair for ASEAN, the ten country south east asian trading bloc, for 2019.

Alongside the ASEAN Chairmanship logo, the livery features the best of ASEAN tourism icons, helping to advance and support AirAsia’s sustainability partnership with ASEAN nations and its mission to create a globally recognised ASEAN brand.

The launch event was attended by ASEAN deputy secretary-general AKP Mochtan, Ministry of Tourism and Sports Thailand Permanent Secretary Chote Trachu and Ministry of Transport Thailand, Chaiwat Thongkamkoon, along with AirAsia Group executive chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “As a truly ASEAN airline, we’re thrilled to showcase what makes our home special on one of our aircraft and to reiterate our ongoing commitment to sustainability.”

AirAsia’s sustainability efforts include guest education, carbon reduction and waste management through AirAsia’s philanthropic arm AirAsia Foundation.

SOURCE: Air Asia

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