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Fish companies to defend themselves from slavery reports

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Fish companies to defend themselves from slavery reports
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Eight seafood and fishery associations will today reveal their action plan on labour conditions and send a decisive message against the United States’ decision to downgrade Thailand to “Tier 3” in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The Bank of Thailand and businesses groups have voiced concern over the move, saying it has the potential to hamper the country’s export sector especially the shrimp industry.

The eight associations met yesterday to draw up a ‘roadmap’ as a whole supply chain, in a bid to defend themselves against the report.

Poj Aramwattananont, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, said all associations agreed to show the truth of Thai shrimp industry and related industries today.

“We [Thai seafood manufacturers] need to convey correct information to the public after the British newspaper The Guardian and the US accused Thai food and related industries of employing illegal workers,” he said.

90 days before news of sanctions

The eight associations are the Thai Fishery Association, Thai Fishmeal Producers Association, Thai Feed Mill Association, Thai Frozen Foods Association, Thai Food Processors’ Association, Thai Shrimp Association, Thai Tuna Industry Association and Thai Overseas Fisheries Association.

While waiting for the US president’s decision within 90 days on whether to sanction Thai traders, the associations and each company will urgently create understanding among trading partners and agencies.

Mongkol Sukcharoenkana, deputy president of the National Fisheries Association of Thailand, said the association would reorganise the fishing boat and fishing system soon to prevent illegal labour problems.

He also called on government agencies to help solve the problem of “outside” fishing boats. About 20 per cent of fishing trawlers in Thailand are not members of the organisations.

The Guardian report (click here) was not based on facts, he claimed, as the source of its article was a non-Thai fishing boat and not an association member.

Kevalin Wangpichayasuk, assistant managing director of Kasikorn Research Centre, said there was still no sign of recovery in the shrimp export industry, which has been plagued by the early mortality syndrome disease since 2012. Blacklisting by the TIP report had the potential to make things even worse for the fishing industry.

“We now begin to have a shortage of raw materials and our market share has declined from 30 per cent to 19.9 per cent while the downgrade to Tier 3 will lower demand sentiment and further lower our market share,” she said.

Most of Thailand’s market share in the export of shrimp to the US has been lost to competitors including Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Ecuador, she said.

Tackle problem seriously: Prasarn

Prasarn Triratvorakul, governor of the central bank, said the 2014 TIP Report would affect the country’s image and reputation especially during a period of economic recovery. Economic growth may slow down.

However, the country was in the process of making the US understand that there were some industries with labour problems – not all industries. If successful, the private sector’s business would not be affected.

Thailand should tackle the labour trafficking problem seriously, he said.

Though it’s too early to assess the impact on Thai exports this year, export growth for the full year should be lower than 4 per cent, he said.

Paiboon Ponsuwanna, an adviser on the Thai National Shippers Council committee, said the TIP Report had given Thailand a bad image.

The government needed to draw up measures to solve the labour problem for other enterprises though US traders had not banned Thai goods.

Otherwise, it could affect exports in the future, he said.

Primarily, Thai food exports to the US should not be affected by the report, but due to the low supply of shrimp, exports to the US would drop this year, he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Bangkok

Closure order in Bangkok set until May 31, restaurants can now offer dine-in services

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo by Russell Davies for Flickr

To control the spread of Covid-19 in Bangkok, where more than 28,000 people have tested positive for the virus in the latest wave of infections, the closure order in the capital has been extended a second time, now set to be in place until May 31.

While many entertainment and recreation businesses and venues are ordered to remain closed, some restrictions have been relaxed. Restaurants can now offer dine-in services, but only until 9pm. Restaurants can still offer takeaway services until 11pm.

Businesses and venues that must remain closed include…

  • Educational places including schools and tutoring centres
  • Entertainment venues including pubs, bars, karaoke venues and nightclubs
  • Massage parlours and spas
  • Recreation and amusement businesses and places including cinemas, theatres, water parks, amusement parks, playgrounds, zoos, skating rinks, billiard halls, bowling alleys, arcades, internet cafes, public parks, gardens
  • Fitness and sport venues and businesses including public swimming pools, gyms, boxing stadiums, dance studios, golf courses
  • Care centres such as nurseries, childhood development centres and elderly care centres (with the exception of overnight stays.)
  • Museums and public libraries

Other restrictions include…

  • Shopping centres can remain open until 9pm.
  • Convenience stores and other 24-hour shops must be closed from 11pm to 4am.
  • Events over 20 people must have permission from the government with a disease control plan.
  • Face masks are mandatory in public places. Violators face a 20,000 baht fine.

SOURCE: TAT

 

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Thailand

Thai tourism minister re-iterates Phuket’s re-opening on July 1

Tim Newton

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The Thai government has again reiterated its plan to reopen Thailand, specifically Phuket, to foreign tourists and travellers. The southern island province, under the so-called “sandbox” plan, is Thailand’s pilot program for re-opening the country to general travel by July 1… just 6 weeks away.

The government has consistently said that the island’s residents will have to be 70% vaccinated by the start of July before the re-opening can happen. With a current vaccination success of 22%, the island is certainly a long way ahead of the rest of the country but still a long way from its 70% target.

The National News Bureau, the voice of the Thai government, reports that the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, is “urging” Phuket officials to achieve the vaccination target next month.

The media release says… “The provincial administration and the private sector have developed plans to prepare for the reopening in all respects, while creating more awareness and understanding with the local people. Thus, the reopening will be safe and help drive the economy forward.”

Far from providing “awareness and understanding with the local people”, Phuket officials have been opaque about vaccination roll out programs. The island’s foreign population, estimated to be around 40,000 people, or about 10% of the total population, are none-the-wiser today about their prospects to secure a place in the island’s vaccination queues.

Last week Phuket residents, with a local and current work permit, were told they would be able to register for vaccination. So far that process has not proceeded.

There is also a hard rump of Thais who have stated in numerous polls, that they remain unwilling to accept a vaccination. This includes thousands of candid posts on social media where fear or mistrust over the Sinovac vaccine from China is plain to see. The island also has a large Muslim population where some community leaders have already expressed some doubt over recommending vaccination to their adherents.

But, even today, the second roll out has begun on the island for Thais who registered on the Mor Prom app since the start of May, so things are progressing. An area has been put aside at the island’s Central Floresta shopping centre for registrants.

The ‘reopening to tourists’ on July 1 isn’t without restrictions. People arriving by air will not be open to “countries where COVID-19 is widespread, or tourists without a vaccination certificate”. That list hasn’t been fully detailed although Thailand has a ban on people arriving from at least 4 countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

“…visitors who travel by air must provide documents to prove that they have received both Covid-19 vaccine doses. They are required to undergo rapid antigen tests, or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT- PCR) tests, at their place of origin, and to register on www.gophuget.com and the MorChana application.”

The MorChana app tracks the location of an individual whilst their phone is turned on with the data turned on as well.

Without specifically mentioning quarantine in the media release, it is understood that quarantine will be waived for international travellers who have have been fully vaccinated. Other specific paperwork requirements have not been announced at this stage… with 6 weeks to go to the international re-opening.

For domestic traffic, arriving in Phuket by road (as of May 17), “…people who do not have a certificate of vaccination and have not taken a swab test will have to undergo a 14 day quarantine. If they plan to spend only 3 days in Phuket, they are required to stay in home quarantine for the 3 days.”

Phuket is still experiencing new daily infections

SOURCE: National News Bureau of Thailand

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai government expects to open vaccine registration to foreigners by August

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash

A Health Ministry spokesperson has confirmed that foreigners living in Thailand should be able to register for Covid-19 vaccination by August. Ratchada Thanadirek says the government is working on a dedicated registration platform for foreign nationals living in the Kingdom, which it’s hoped will be ready in 3 months’ time.

Meanwhile, Thai Visa News reports that vaccine registration for Thais has been extended to those aged between 18 and 59 years old, who can now sign up from May 31. Registration had initially been limited to Thai nationals over the age of 60, as well as those with underlying health conditions. However, the third wave of the virus means registration for younger Thais has been brought forward from July.

Thai nationals can register for vaccination through the Mor Prom platform or the Mor Prom Line account. They can also register at government hospitals. According to Ratchada, the vaccines that will be used in the government rollout will primarily be AstraZeneca, manufactured in-country by Siam Bioscience.

However, she points out that there are 3 other vaccines that have been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration. They are the Chinese-made Sinovac, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the vaccine from US manufacturer, Moderna. The latter is expected to be available for purchase at private hospitals, although there has been no confirmation of when supplies might arrive.

SOURCE: Thai Visa News

 

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