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Panama’s VP backs the Thailand Kra Canal project

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Panama’s VP backs the Thailand Kra Canal project | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Panama’s Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado – The Nation

The long-running discussions about a canal, linking the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, aka The Kra Canal, has come up again with a visit from Panama’s Vice President.

The Panama Canal changed world shipping when it linked the Pacific and Atlantic oceans when it was completed in 1914. Panama’s Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, said the Krabi Canal would boost Thailand’s role in global connectivity.

“I think it is very powerful in every way for connectivity in the future. It’s a huge potential for growth for Thailand.”

The Vice President was asked if the Kingdom should go ahead with plans to build the Kra Canal, linking the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea.

“I think that is the correct direction.”

Learn more about the Krabi Canal project HERE.

When asked if security was ever a concern for Panama, she said security is always a concern, but strong cooperation with regional allies had helped her country stay secure.

De Alvarado, who is also foreign minister, was in Thailand for a bilateral visit. She met her counterpart, Don Pramudwinai, before making a courtesy call on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss a wide range of subjects, notably air and maritime connectivity.

She said her country plays a significant role as a gateway for Thailand to access Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We are also interested in infrastructure projects in Thailand including deep-sea ports. With deep-sea ports, Thailand will be able to send large ships directly from Thailand to Panama, with local and regional cargo”.

“Thailand could learn from Panama’s experience in establishing a special economic zone, the Colon Free Trade Zone, which can be applied to the Eastern Economic Corridor Project”, she added.

Panama is also interested in signing a free-trade agreement with Thailand, she said, adding that her government will discuss the matter with the government once it has concluded free-trade negotiations with China next year.

“We export some fruit and I know Thailand produces a lot of fruit, so we need to find out what products Thailand does not have. We are also working on the export of meat, so we will need to sit down, discuss and identify the areas of cooperation,” she said.

At a meeting with Thai officials, Panama’s VP also expressed interest in partnering with ASEAN and signing a friendship pact with the group. Since Thailand will be chairing the regional grouping next year, it could back Panama in signing the friendship pact, she said.

Panama's VP backs the Thailand Kra Canal project | News by The Thaiger

ORIGINAL SOURCE ARTICLE: The Nation



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BOI approves new rail services, new port investment

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BOI approves new rail services, new port investment | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI secretary general

The Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) has laid out strategies to boost the development of rail services and the country’s cruise tourism.

Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI secretary general, says the latest BOI meeting chaired by the Prime Minister had resolved to instigate measures to attract investment in rail development and related infrastructure for continued economic growth.

According to Duangjai, investment projects for rail development and related sectors will be entitled to a tax break of 50% for the first three to five years of investment.

The BOI also approved measures to stimulate the cruise tourism business, with the aim of attracting more tourists to the kingdom.

Moreover, the BOI has introduced a plan to attract aerospace investment to U-Tapao Airport in 2019 as part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project, as the EEC Office is planning to develop an “Aerotropolis” which will stretch over 30 kilometers from the airport.

Additionally, the meeting endorsed the 7-year strategic investment promotion plan, spanning 2015 to 2021, which it is anticipated will contribute 418 billion baht to the country’s GDP.

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Chinese foreign policy – On track

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Chinese foreign policy – On track | The Thaiger

by Nikkei Asia Review

“When Japanese trading house Itochu and train maker Hitachi withdrew from a soon-to-be-decided $7 billion tender for a high-speed rail project near Bangkok, it appeared to be another victory for China and its grand plans to connect Southeast Asia with railways.

Thailand has for decades been the centerpiece of Tokyo’s strategy for Southeast Asia, and long-discussed plans to build extensive shinkansen-style rail lines in the country’s east and north were meant to cement the relationship between the two nations.

But while Japan’s ambitions have been stalled by disagreements about financing and other details, Beijing has managed to push ahead with construction of a separate high-speed rail line in northern Thailand. To some, the rail projects are a symbol of China’s growing influence in a country where Japan had spent decades building ties.”

The article predicts that the Chinese investment into South East Asian rail services is part of its broader ‘belt and road’ policy that is stretching out into new routes and connecting regions, and China, with hitherto remote parts of the asian continent.

“China’s high-speed rail ambitions in Southeast Asia don’t end in Bangkok, however. Under its planned 3,000-km pan-Asian railway network, Chinese rail lines will extend even further south, stretching through Malaysia and feeding into Singapore.”

Chinese foreign policy - On track | News by The Thaiger

China’s reach southwards will allow it to exert greater political influence on places like Singapore which, for now, still retains strong connections to Washington. Investing in high-speed railways all the way from China’s borders to the tip of the Malay Peninsula is a lot more than just an economic investment, it’s a high-profile symbol of China’s new influence in the region where issues such as ‘Taiwan’ and it’s demands in the South China Sea have caused prickly negotiations with the ASEAN countries.

But to reach Singapore, China must first get Malaysia on side…

“A dramatic recent shift in Malaysian politics has put China’s plans for Singapore on hold, however. After his election in May, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to hold up “for now” the $20 billion 688-km east coast rail line connecting southern Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, and postpone for two years a 350-km high-speed rail link between the Malaysian capital and Singapore.”

The article says that these ‘investments’ are actually just loans for high-priced infrastructure that often cannot be repaid by smaller economies….

“China typically provides loans, not grants, for foreign infrastructure projects, and takes possession of the project if the recipient is unable to repay its debt – as happened with a port in Sri Lanka. Such instances have prompted critics in the West to accuse China of practicing ‘debt diplomacy’.”

Read more of this fascinating and important article from Nikkei Asia Review HERE.

Chinese foreign policy - On track | News by The Thaiger

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Thailand opens doors to cryptocurrencies – Thaiger Bites

The Thaiger

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Thailand opens doors to cryptocurrencies – Thaiger Bites | The Thaiger

Divisions are forming across Asia with regards to cryptocurrencies. Some nations such as China are constantly stomping on anything to do with crypto assets but others, Thailand being the latest, are opening their digital doors to the fledgling industry.

Over the past year Thailand has warmed to crypto and this latest raft of official licenses is a big boost to the industry in the country and region as a whole. Military rulers and the central bank remains wary which is no surprise and have issued warnings to investors. Overall though the sentiment is positive and an official ICO portal has even been proposed by the SEC.

Read more about this story from News BTC HERE.

(Thaiger Bites provides these short snippets for stories we believe of interest to our readers)

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