– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
BRUSSELS/BEIJING: China and other major steel-producing countries failed to agree measures to tackle a global steel crisis as the sides argued over the causes of overcapacity, prompting U.S. criticism of Beijing’s approach and an angry response from Chinese officials.
A meeting of ministers and trade officials from over 30 countries, hosted by Belgium and the OECD on Monday, sought to tackle excess capacity, but concluded only that it had to be dealt with in a swift and structural way.
Washington pointed the finger at China over the failure of the talks, saying Beijing needed to act on overcapacity or face possible trade action from other countries.
“Unless China starts to take timely and concrete actions to reduce its excess production and capacity in industries including steel … the fundamental structural problems in the industry will remain and affected governments – including the United States – will have no alternatives other than trade action to avoid harm to their domestic industries and workers,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in a statement.
Asked what steps the Chinese government would take following the unsuccessful talks, China Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters on Tuesday: “China has already done more than enough. What more do you want us to do?”
“Steel is the food of industry, the food of economic development. At present, the major problem is that countries that need food have a poor appetite so it looks like there’s too much food.”
The OECD said global steelmaking capacity was 2.37 billion tonnes in 2015, but declining production meant that only 67.5 percent of that was being used, down from 70.9 percent in 2014.
Britain in particular has felt the squeeze as its largest producer Tata Steel has announced plans to pull out of the country, threatening 15,000 jobs. Last week, more than 40,000 German steel workers took to the streets to protest against dumping from China.
China, the world’s top steel producer, has been ramping up exports of steel in recent years, as it battles to steer its economy into services-led growth and away from traditional manufacturing, while keeping employment levels high.
China’s steel exports jumped 30 percent from a year ago to 9.98 million tonnes in March despite a slew of anti-dumping measures globally.
But blaming China for woes in the global steel industry is simply a lazy excuse for protectionism, and such finger-pointing will be counter-productive, China’s official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Monday.
“It’s more been their competitive advantage into Asian countries which has really driven that rise in exports,” said Daniel Hynes, a commodity strategist at ANZ Bank. “I think that will continue and will keep those export levels relatively high despite the pressures we’re seeing now.”
At a news conference following Monday’s meeting, deep divisions between China and other producers were clear.
Cecelia Malmstrom, the EU’s trade commissioner, insisted governments should not grant subsidies that keep unviable plants running and should subject state-controlled firms to the same rules as the private sector.
China’s assistant commerce minister, Zhang Ji, said China had cut 90 million tonnes of capacity and had plans to reduce it by a further 100-150 million tonnes.
“That is only 10 million tonnes less than the capacity in Europe,” he said, although critics say it would still have a capacity of around 1 billion tonnes, far in excess of its needs.
China’s main iron and steel body has previously acknowledged that the flood of Chinese steel product exports is damaging to the country’s efforts to gain market economy status from the European Union – an important goal for Beijing as the domestic economy slows.
Li Xinchuang, the vice secretary of general of the China Iron and Steel Association, rejected the U.S. criticisms.
“It is a totally pointless complaint from the U.S. and it’s biased against China,” Li told Reuters by phone. “China’s steel industry is market-based and Chinese steel products have good quality, low price and good service. The complaint on government subsidies is also crap.”
Tensions have erupted between other producers, with Japan leading criticism of Indian minimum prices for imported steel at a recent World Trade Organization meeting and Japan and South Korea coming under fire for exporting steel products cheaper than they sell them at home.
In a step by Beijing to reduce trade frictions with Washington, it has agreed to scrap some export subsidies on a range of products including steel the United States said last week.
But there were signs the spat was spreading. The United Steelworkers (USW) said on Monday it has filed a case with U.S. regulators seeking to stem a “flood” of aluminum imports the trade unions says have damaged U.S. producers and threatened jobs.
The case is the latest move by the U.S. aluminum industry to try and get authorities to investigate the impact of rising imports, particularly from China.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
Southern Thailand braces for rough weather and rain
The Thailand Meteorological Department issued a weather warning for southern Thailand with torrential rain forecast to hit the region throughout the weekend. The heavy monsoon over the Gulf of Thailand and south of the country is being blamed for the rough weather, with the TMD predicting flash flooding in many areas.
(Phuket, Hat Yai and Hua Hin’s forecast below)
“Waves are expected to reach 2 metres in height in the lower Gulf of Thailand and possibly higher at the height of the storm. Ships are advised to proceed with caution.”
For the north and northeast of Thailand, the TMD forecasts strong winds and cooler mornings as the arrival of the “winter” season, coupled with a moderate high-pressure system, causes temperatures to dip.
Hua Hin’s five day forecast
Phuket’s five day forecast
Hat Yai’s five day forecast
SOURCE: The Nation | weather.com
Tale of two cities – Hua Hin vs Pattaya
by Kornrawee Panyasuppakun
Property buyers looking to buy a seaside villa or condo in a coastal town in Thailand, relatively close to Bangkok, confront one question – should I buy a property in Hua Hin or Pattaya?
And rightly so, because these two choices have similar aspects. Both have kilometres of coastline, good beaches, and are just a couple of hours away from Bangkok – 3 hours for Hua Hin and 2 hours for Pattaya. They also have good year-round weather, large expat populations, and are some of the best places in Asia for water-sports and playing golf.
Yet, each place suits buyers with different lifestyles and goals.
Town or City?
If you want a laid-back beach town feel, Hua Hin is the right choice. If you like to live in the middle of action, with a greater range of things to do, Pattaya is the winner. It is simply more established and has a longer development history in terms of western-style villas and condominiums.
Hua Hin has a population of around 100,000 plus a growing tourist reputation. The lazy town offers long, sandy beaches that run 5 kilometers along the coast and are not fully obstructed by high-story condos on the beach, due to building regulations.
Hua Hin may not be the best place to swim in Thailand, as the sea-bed is a bit rocky, but it makes up for it with clean beaches, dedicated beach cleanup groups consisting of locals and expats, and regulations which, among others, restrict commercial tourism on the beaches on Wednesdays, and town planning which controls high-rise along the coast.
Hua Hin also suits those in search of a peaceful getaway because the town does not have a seedy reputation and is far from any industrial enterprises. This is thanks to a strong tradition of royal patronage and residence in the district, such as Mrigadayavan Palace and Klai Kangwon Palace, the latter is owned by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX).
Nevertheless, the town has a growing reputation for restaurants and new attractions for tourists; it is a favourite resort town for Thai upper-class and Bangkokians who like to go to Hua Hin on weekends.
Check out the largest selection of properties in both towns HERE.
Pristine beaches of Hua Hin, larger and longer than Pattaya
Pattaya, on the other hand, is home to almost 400,000 people, plus plenty of international tourists. The city is highly developed and has a higher density of high-rise buildings along the coastline and many great sea-view villas on the hillside, both of which are harder to find in Hua Hin due to the tighter building regulations.
During the day, the beaches in Pattaya attract sun worshippers and all different types of water sports, from kitesurfing to waterskiing. At night, Pattaya’s Walking Street is an international adult entertainment playground. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a quiet place in Pattaya. There are less-popular beaches like Jomtien Beach and nearby islands like Koh Larn and Koh Samet.
Pattaya is part of Thailand’s eastern seaboard, the Eastern Economic Corridor, meaning the city is situated close to Thailand’s main industrial facilities and sea ports, as well as airports like Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is around an hour and a half away by car. It also has its own airport about 40 minutes from town called U-tapao International Airport.
The famous sweeping coastline of Pattaya, a haven for nightlife and entertainment options
Holiday home, Retirement, or Investment?
Hua Hin and Pattaya are both highly qualified for holiday home buyers with an impressive choice of villas and condominiums. But Hua Hin is better known for retirement and Pattaya for investment.
Hua Hin has been named as one of the best retirement locations in Asia by countless surveys. It offers a high standard of living, great golf courses, first-class restaurants, quality medical care, close proximity to Bangkok, as well as “the big foreign community that connects through reading clubs, festivals, cycling clubs, soccer leagues, wine tastings and darts tournaments,” wrote the US News and World Report in 2019.
Foreign property buyers are those who buy a holiday home or a retirement residence. Most are from western countries, especially those from Scandinavia, Germany and England. Many buy in Hua Hin to spend the winter with their families, rent out when they are away, and eventually live there when they retire. Also, a hi-speed railway will soon be built to link Hua Hin with Bangkok, which will make travelling to Bangkok airports even more convenient. It already has a multi-lane highway, train and bus services.
Pattaya is a popular choice for investment. It has a large and growing tourism industry, with over 12 million tourists last year, as well as a healthy mix of nationalities, including Israeli, Russian, European, Indian, and Chinese, making its tourism less susceptible to change from a single demographic.
Additionally, Pattaya is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor, the Eastern seaboard that targets high-tech industries and attracts foreign direct investments, especially from Japan. It is also linked to Bangkok airports, sea ports, and main industrial facilities in Chon Buri and Rayong by the upcoming hi-speed rail. Plus, the city itself is positioned as an international medical hub.
Overall, a stream of foreign tourists and business travellers means a steady source of income for investors. Those who buy the property to rent out short-term and long-term can enjoy a realistic Return On Investment of about 7 – 8% year. In Pattaya you can already see investors from Western countries as well as Asian countries, from China to India and the Middle East.
There is an excellent selection of international-standard golf courses in Hua Hin
Both offer a cool selection of eateries, shopping malls, and activities, but if compared by the variety of choices, Pattaya is the hands down winner.
That isn’t to say that Hua Hin doesn’t have plenty of options. Most buyers in Hua Hin like to play golf and enjoy the outdoor spaces – town is one of the best golfing destinations in Asia. There are also first-class Thai and international restaurants, a huge eco-friendly water park, and several night markets that sell fresh seafood and local crafts, like Hua Hin Night Market and Cicada Market.
Furthermore, Hua Hin has stylish shopping malls like Blueport and Market Village, the latter of which offers so-called “you hunt, we cook” options. You can also try the new Latitude Wines at a vineyard in Hua Hin or head to a cool bar that offers familiar labels.
Pattaya may be infamous for its red light areas and nightlife – go-go bars, beer bars and nightclubs – but that is not the only side of Pattaya. In Pattaya you can find quality lifestyle with a burgeoning choice of family options and entertainments.
It offers a range of Thai and international cuisines, from award-winning restaurants with amazing views, sky bars, and Italian wine bars, to family-run restaurants, 100% vegan places, and local seafood. It also has a range of options to entertain people with different budgets.
Pattaya also offers lots of chic shopping centees like Terminal 21 Pattaya, Central Festival Pattaya Beach and Central Marina. There are also lots of family-friendly choices like water parks and museums, in addition to a wide range of extreme sports, such as Muay Thai, kitesurfing, waterskiing, and skydiving. You can also go snorkeling or plan a day trip to nearby islands like Koh Larn and Koh Samet.
In both cities, you can expect to find theatres with international blockbusters and supermarkets that sell western products. And there is a daily ferry between Hua Hin and Pattaya (during high season).
Expat families can find an excellent international school in both cities.
Hua Hin has a couple of options for expat families. With quality education and great sporting activities, Hua Hin International School, for instance, is one of the choices that follows the national British curriculum and the IB program, and recruits teachers from the UK. There are also several bilingual programs available.
Expats in Pattaya have more choice when it comes to international education. There are several internationally-recognised international schools with excellent facilities like hi-tech campus, drama studios, and a big theatre. Some of the best schools are St Andrews International School, Regents International School, and Tara Pattana International School.
Hua Hin and Pattaya offer high-quality hospitals that cover basic and advanced medical care and cater to patients with different budgets.
Top private hospitals in Hua Hin are, for instance, Sao Paulo Hospital which caters to lower budgets, and Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin which is part of the renowned BDMS group. These hospitals both offer quality specialist care including cardiology, urology, and orthopaedics, to name a few, and English is widely spoken.
For Pattaya, top hospitals are Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, Pattaya International Hospital, and Pattaya Memorial Hospital, with Bangkok Hospital Pattaya charging the highest fees. Also, as Pattaya is recognised as one of the best medical tourism centres in Thailand, and the region, there are tons of tourists flying to the city for medical care, and hospitals employ staff who are fluent in various languages.
Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, for instance, has interpreters in more than 20 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.
The bottom line … It depends on your goals and lifestyle. If you want a peaceful hideaway with grand royal history, or are a golf enthusiast, you may choose a property in Hua Hin. If you want to a city that is always switched on, close to investment areas and airports, and has lots of leading international schools and shopping malls, you may like Pattaya more.
“Don’t extend opening hours to 4am” – Tourist zones
“Think again about extending pub opening hours to 4am in tourist areas”.
That’s the advice from Dr Mohamed Fahmy Tale, an advocate for alcohol control, directed to Thailand’s tourism minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.
Manager Online says that he wants the government to focus more on safety rather than encouraging more drinking.
The Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, had proposed an extension of official opening hours in tourism locations like Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. He claimed that the tourism economy would be stimulated by as much as 25%, without providing any evidence to back his remarks.
(In reality many of the more popular venues are already open well past the 2am curfew with the ‘co-operation’ of local police and officials.)
But Dr Mohamed Fahmy Tale, who proposes measures to tackle Thailand’s alcohol problems, disagrees.
In an opinion piece in Manager Dr Mohamed says that he was “shaking his head” when he read the proposals. He claims the proposal would “set Thailand tourism back and put it in the klong” (canal).
He said that tourists don’t decide where to visit based on alcohol availability. He said that Thailand already has the moniker of the “Tourist Sex Capital“ and there are far better ways to move forward and counter this perception rather than extending opening hours.
He said that Thailand has more than enough culture and environmental wonders like sea and mountains to take tourism in a new and more favourable direction and that the government should promote that.
He said that his surveys showed that safety is a tourist’s number one priority and the government should focus on improving that too.
He urged a rethink saying that the minister’s claims about closing times in Italy were broad brush remarks. Italy has a great deal of difference from one city to the next, he said and could not be compared to Thailand.
SOURCE: Manager Online
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