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Medical cannabis crops to be tightly controlled

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Medical cannabis crops to be tightly controlled | The Thaiger

The Thai narcotic control board head says that only Thai citizens who join hands with the government will be allowed to cultivate medical cannabis.

The board yesterday stressed that growers of the potentially lucrative crop must be cooperatives, community enterprises or social enterprises made up of citizens – and not private companies.

Their business will be under the scrutiny of state agencies, must cooperate with those agencies, and must be run by Thai nationals, said the Narcotics Control Board Office secretary-general, Niyom Termsrisuk. He said the agency is also working with Kasetsart University to design a low-cost greenhouse that would enable Thai enterprises to operate their business on a small budget while preventing the crops from “leaking out”.

He added that cannabis grown by farmers might also have to be in a closed area to control air and humidity, in order to stabilise the amount of medical substances in the harvest including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The import, export, distribution and possession of the cannabis will be under the control of related government agencies.

The bill to legalise medical use of marijuana was passed last month, but many are expressing disappointment that the legislation excluded the private sector from the lucrative market.

Meanwhile, the dean of Rangsit University’s Institute of Integrative Medicine and Anti-Ageing is threatening to file complaints against the Intellectual Property Department if it failed to reject 13 patent applications for items containing cannabis extracts.

“Complaints will be filed with the Central Administrative Court, the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, and the National Anti-Corruption Commission,” said the dean, Panthep Phuaphongphan.

Commerce Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong said that he had told ordered the Intellectual Property Department to hold discussions on what to do with those patent applications.

SOURCE: The Nation



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Business

Thailand braces itself for a ‘no deal’ Brexit

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Thailand braces itself for a ‘no deal’ Brexit | The Thaiger

Embattled British PM Theresa May is working against the clock to get her Brexit deal through Parliament after the recent defeats..

The British lawmakers last week voted to reject the option of leaving the European Union’s without a deal, raising questions over the conditions for the UK’s leaving the EU bloc. The deadline for their divorce is only two weeks away.

But economists are warning Thailand to brace for some fallout from the UK exit from the EU because it is more likely to happen than not, just a matter of when.

First of all, no-deal Brexit means the UK will no longer be a part of the EU bloc and will have to revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade. Made-in-UK goods will be subject to EU tariffs, like that of other non-EU nations. Meanwhile, the price of the EU-made merchandises in the UK may become more expensive as they will have to bear the cost of imported tariffs as well.

According to SCB Economic Intelligence Centre, a no-deal Brexit will impact the UK economy and, consequently, affect British purchasing power overseas. British demand for Thai exports, namely automobiles and parts, and processed chicken meat may reduce.

British expats will also have to face a worsening rate of exchange with the Thai baht, lessening the power of the British pound they bring into the Kingdom for living, retirement or holidays.

Nonetheless, the overall impact on Thai exports should not be significant because the Thai outbound shipment to the UK represents only 1.5 percent of total Thai exports, according to the the think tank of Siam Commercial Bank.

Brexit may also prompt Thailand and the EU to renegotiate some trade deals such as import quota to the EU. Thailand may have to renegotiate the export quota with the EU on processed chicken, as an example. And Thailand may also have to negotiate another chicken export deal with the UK separately after the UK separation from the EU.

Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General of Department of Trade Negotiations, said Brexit could complicate the process of Thai-EU free trade negotiation, which is scheduled to resume in the second half of this year.

“At any rate, after the Thai general election, Thailand is set to continue to negotiate with the EU on the Thai-EU free trade deal regardless of the UK decision.”

On the bright side, Brexit may prompt the UK investors to pay more attention to potential markets beyond the EU border. At present, direct investment from the UK to Thailand is small, accounting for only 3.5 percent of the total foreign direct investment, according to SCB.

Kasikorn Research Centre note that in addition to Brexit, Thai investors should take into account the consequences of the EU and Japan’s Economic Partnership Agreement which came into force last month.

The EPA could affect the exports of Thai automobile which is part of the Japanese’ supply chains. The EPA will end tariffs of auto and parts between Japan and EU by 2026.

Kasikorn Bank’s think tank says, in light of Brexit, some Japanese automakers will likely relocate some of their car production from the UK to other EU countries to maintain the EU trade privileges. Nissan and Honda have already flagged this probability.

Thus, the destinations for Thai exported automobiles and parts, which are part of the supply chains of Japanese automakers, may also change in accordance with Japanese automakers’ revised business strategy.

While the actual impacts on trade and investment remain to be seen, Brexit has been chiefly attributed to the volatility of the British pound since the referendum in 2016.

The SCB Economic Intelligence Centre say the weaker British pound could dampen the sentiment of British arrivals. They note that UK holidaymakers are among the high spenders in Thailand with 77,600 baht per trip.

“At any rate, since the receipts from British travelers represent only 2.1 percent of the total, the impact on the Thai tourism industry will be insignificant.”

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Election

Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday.

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Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday. | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

Sunday’s election will not be the end, it will only be another episode in a two-decade long drama as Thailand struggles with democracy and attempts to throw off the shackles of nearly a century of military tampering in political affairs.

Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrats, head into Sunday’s election with leader Abhisit Vejjajiva facing some tough decisions in the first poll since the 2014 coup.

At one end of the political spectrum in Thailand are the pro-military, pro-status quo parties. At the other are the pro-democracy, pro-Thaksin parties. And between them, the Democrats trying to find some political middle ground.

The way the votes are likely to fall, no party will have enough seats in the new lower house of the Thai parliament. There will have to be some long phone calls and concessions made by everyone to cobble together a workable coalition. Either way, the Democrats are likely to be the ones roped into any coalition – they won’t get enough votes to win government but will have a substantial handful to bargain their place at the table.

Either way they are going to upset a sizable majority of the pro-military or pro-democracy parties. And the Democrat voters won’t be happy with they party leaders getting cosy with the opposition parties.

But Abhisit Vejjajiva argues that there is a scenario that could return him to the PMs office, which he held from 2008 to 2011 after a court dissolved a pro-Thaksin government.

“We will be the alternative in leading Thailand out of the last decade of troubles.”

But the polls and pundits say this scenario is unlikely.

The March 24 election is being billed by the NCPO as returning south east Asia’s second-largest economy to civilian and democratic rule. But the new constitution, overseen by the generals simply enshrines military influence over politics. Whilst it will be a free and fair vote for the lower house of government, the upper house of 250 military Senators is already set in stone.

Abhisit this month said in a campaign video he would not support Prayut Chan-o-cha staying on as PM, which he said will “breed conflict and is against the Democrat party’s principle that the people have the power”.

But at the same time, Abhisit made it clear he would be loath to work with the main pro-Thaksin party, Pheu Thai. The Democrats have long decried the Thaksin movement as corrupt and a threat to independent democratic institutions.

“I don’t want dictatorship and I don’t want corrupt people,” Abhisit said.

“Corrupt politicians provided the pretexts for the military to stage all the coups in the last 20 years.”

So here I am, stuck in the middle with you!

The biggest problem Abhisit faces next Sunday is an electorate that has become increasingly polarised, and the middle ground, with all the best intentions in the world, being lost in the background noise of the bitter political struggle.

There is no doubt that the charismatic Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his party members, will be a part of any new co-alition following the election – they will have numbers and numbers count. But the Democrat vision, one of the oldest political visions in Thailand, will be lost amongst the ongoing battle between the pro-Thaksin and pro-military voices.

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Hot News

“I’m sorry” – Premchai granted bail

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“I’m sorry” – Premchai granted bail | The Thaiger

“There is one thing.  I am sorry.”

PHOTO: Thai PBS

Thailand’s billionaire construction magnate says he was “sorry” after being granted bail following yesterday’s court verdict that set a prison sentence of 16 months for illegal hunting in the Thungyai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary in far north-west Thailand.

Three others were also found guilty and given jail terms by the court. Yong Dodkrua was sentenced to 13 months, Mrs. Nathee Riamsaeng, four months and Thani Thummat given two years and 17 months in prison.

Premchai Kanasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development Corp, one of Thailand’s largest construction firms, along with three other people were arrested by forest rangers at their make-shift camp where carcasses of a black panther, a barking deer, wild fowl and hunting rifles were found 13 months ago.

The high-profile case has generated strong reactions from many Thai people fed up with wrongdoings by those in power and with influence often going unpunished. The case has also been the subject of jokes in the social media and prompted demonstrations in and outside Bangkok.

He was found guilty on three counts and sentenced to six months for carrying firearms in public without a permit, 8 months for abetting others to poach protected wildlife species and two months for possession of carcasses of wild fowl.

The court did not find the tycoon guilty of illegal hunting of an endangered panther as charged by the prosecutor.

The four defendants were also ordered by the court to pay two million baht compensation to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Asked whether he had anything to say to the public, Premchai responded briefly:  “There is one thing.  I am sorry.”

All were released on a 400,000 baht bail, except Thani who was released on 500,000 baht bail.

The wildlife sanctuary chief Wichien, hailed a hero for his courage in standing up against the influential tycoon, told the media he was satisfied with the verdict, adding that justice has been served.

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