MOAC assembles four nations to price rubber
MOAC to partner with Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam to establish major natural rubber pricing board equivalent to OPEC
Mr. Grisada Boonrach, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives revealed that he had discussed with the Ministry of Commerce to establish a committee in order to determine the domestic price of natural rubber, as natural rubber is currently restricted goods. The committee will be comprised of the Government sector, entrepreneurs, and rubber planters. The formation of the board is expected to be finalized within 3 months.
There are also plans on the international level as the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) has coordinated with Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam to establish
a natural rubber pricing committee in order to create a market and a negotiation platform for major rubber-producing countries, equivalent to the oil-producing international organization of OPEC. The countries have diplomatically agreed to the formation of the committee and are expecting approval from their respective governments in May.
While the global price of oil has been rising, the price of natural rubber in Thailand has not improved as much due to the rigidness of the Thai baht. The price of smoked sheet rubber grade 3 (RSS3) is currently listed at 50.19 thb/kg.
The MOAC is undergoing several measures to stabilize the price of rubber, and has confirmed that no rubber trees will be cut down with the exception of 25-30 year old rubber trees.
Both domestic and international measures have been made to stabilize rubber prices which include the domestic measure to increase natural rubber consumption by 200,000 tonnes within the fiscal year. Rubber consumption is expected to meet its goal within schedule
as the re-regulation of rubber application in construction has increased consumption by 30,000 tonnes, of which the Department of Rural Roads and local administrations across Thailand
are the main consumers.
In addition, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha is preparing to assign the military to apply 105,000 tonnes of rubber in stock in military road construction which is expected to use the Government Budget, and the decrease in stock will be one of the methods to lighten pressure on the price.
Thai Government Joined Hands with the Private Sector and NGO to Showcase Thailand’s Progress in Tackling the IUU Fishing
On 24 April 2018, H.E. Mr. Manasvi Srisodapol, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Belgium and Head of Mission of Thailand to the European Union, presided over the opening of the seminar “Thailand’s Path to Sustainable Fisheries” which was held during the Seafood Expo Global 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. The seminar aimed to showcase Thailand’s progress in tackling the illegal fishing to the wide audience, consisting of exporters/importers of fisheries products, and members of press and civil society organizations across the world. The Thai panelists included representatives from the Department of Fisheries, the Ministry of Labour, the Royal Thai Police, Thai Tuna Industry Association, and Stella Maris.
Ambassador Srisodapol delivered an overview of Thailand’s progress in tackling the illegal fishing which reflected Thailand’s determination towards achieving the Zero Tolerance policy. This was recognized by the international community as the overhaul of Thailand’s fishing industry, resulting in being one of Asian region’s most advanced control systems and one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks.
Mr. Adisorn Promthep, Director-General of the Department of Fisheries, reiterated that Thailand’s legal framework and the control mechanisms had been effectively developed with a view to achieving the IUU-free Thailand. Pol. Lt. Col. Rachatachoke Sauyklang, from the Royal Thai Police, further provided the updates on the legal proceedings of prominent illegal fishing cases as well as measures taken to strengthen the law enforcement, while Mrs. Petcharat Sin-auay, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, also gave an update on the development in labour issues which was propelled in parallel with the technical dimension of the fisheries reform.
Mr. Chanintr Chalisarapong, President of the Thai Tuna Industry Association, expressed the Association’s commitment to joining hands with all sectors, namely the Government, private sector, civil society, and the International Labour Organziation (ILO) to promote the sustainable fisheries as well as adhere to the code of conduct of the labour ethical practice throughout the entire production chain. Previously, the Association has also informed the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights of the compliance policy for its members during the Working Group’s official visit to Thailand during 26 March to 4 April 2018.
Ms. Apinya Tajit, Deputy Director of Stella Maris, asserted that her statement was made on behalf of the civil society sector, not on behalf of the Thai Government, to reflect the reality of the Government’s efforts in addressing the labour problems which was now much better than before. She emphasized that this was a common responsibility of all sectors. The civil society sector was now more engaged with the Government in tackling this issue. Everyone should focus on the present and the future, rather than bringing up outdated information to undermine the morale of those who have worked tirelessly to bring about such drastic improvements.
In addition to the aforementioned seminar, the delegation of Thailand also participated in the seminar on “The EU and the social dimension of fisheries” organized by the European Commission during the Seafood Expo Global 2018. The delegation listened to the statement made by H.E. Mr. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission, which emphasized the need for the international community to ensure decent working conditions and safety of the vessel for people working on fishing vessels, and urged all States to ratify the ILO Conventions to deter the abuse of workers on fishing vessels. In this regard, he raised Thailand as an example of advancement in the labour issues through having the Labour Dialogue with the European Union.
At this event, Mr. Promthep took the opportunity to announce that Thailand is in the process of drafing a law to support Thailand’s readiness to ratify the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention (C 188). It is anticipated that the ratification could be realized within this year. Moreover, one of the panelists spoke in support of Thailand’s collaboration with the ILO in preparing for the ratification of the C188, and encouraged other States of the European Union who have not yet ratified the Convention to do so.
Thailand’s Response to the Comments of Human Rights Watch on the Protection of Labour in Fisheries Sector
With regard to the Human Right Watch (HRW)’s open letter to the Royal Thai Government concerning labour reforms in the Thai fisheries industry, dated 13 April 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand would like to thank the HRW for closely monitoring the labour situation in Thai fisheries sector and acknowledging the efforts of the Thai Government in providing labour protection measures in various aspects. As a result of the efforts, the overall situation of workers in the fisheries sector of Thailand over the past 3 years has drastically improved. Nevertheless, the Thai Government continues to pay close attention and try its utmost to increase the effectiveness of enforcement of those measures to ensure that workers in the fisheries sector receive full legal rights and protections. The progress on the issues highlighted by the HRW is as follows:
1. On law enforcement: from 2015 to March 2018, Thai authorities have prosecuted 87 cases of human trafficking in the fisheries sector and 503 cases of labour rights violation, accounted for 11 percent of all inspections carried out of fishing vessels and seafood processing establishments. In the events that the labour inspectors found cases of child labour under 18 years old, forced labour, debt bondage or human trafficking for labour exploitation, such cases must be reported to the police immediately. Most recently, Thailand has set up special arrest teams for fishing-related crimes at sea. From the operation during 11 to 22 March 2018, the teams arrested both Thai and non-Thai vessels for violations of the fisheries laws and the labour laws, resulting in 50 cases. All cases were prosecuted in both criminal courts and via administrative sanctions.
2. On labour inspections: the Ministry of Labour of Thailand together with the International Labor Organization (ILO) jointly developed a labour inspection manual for inspection at sea, ports and seafood processing establishments. The manual is used by the labour inspectors in every step of the inspection which resulted in an increase in a number of arrests. In addition, the number of inspectors at the Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Centers will be doubled. Other inspection measures have also been put in place, including, checking of individual identification using retinal scanning method; inspections of employment documents, pay slips, work permits, passports, Non-Thai nationality identification (pink card); as well as conducting interviews with every migrant worker in fishing vessels considered as risk group by using pre-screening forms. The interviews were conducted with interpreters without the presence of the vessels owner, captain or foremen. From 46,269 migrant workers in the fisheries sector interviewed at the PIPO Centers in 22 coastal provinces in 2016, 3,222 workers were found to not have been treated in accordance with the labour protection law and legal actions were taken against the employers.
In addition, the Ministry of Labour of Thailand together with the ILO have regularly arranged training courses for labour inspectors and officials at the PIPO centers as well as carried out capacity building programmes with the ILO under “Ship to Shore Rights” project for enhancing labour protection among officials and NGOs such as Stella Maris and the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) in Thailand.
3. On awareness raising: the Ministry of Labour of Thailand has regularly published and distributed information on workers’ rights protection measures and regulations, including its complaint channels via online media, newspapers, television, magazines, brochures, leaflets, and other documents in the migrant workers’ own languages. The effort allowed migrant workers, especially in the fisheries sector, to have access to information and better understanding about their legal rights according to labour protection law. In the year 2017, this method reached the target group of 12,371,025 workers, an increase of 94 times in comparison to 130,400 workers in 2016.
4. Complaint channels: Thailand has developed efficient labour complaint channels. Hotlines services accessible to migrant workers have been set up and operated by both public sector and NGOs which are available in Myanmar, Cambodian and English languages. Once the complaint is received, it will be sent to labour inspector to verify the establishment in question. To protect the complained employee from retaliation, the labour inspection will be conducted without informing the employer of the complainer or employee details. In cases of complaints from labour in fishing vessels, the complaints will be sent to the PIPOs centers and the special arrest teams for fishing-related crimes at sea for in-depth investigation without giving details on the ones who lodged the complaint.
5. Ratification of relevant ILO Conventions: Thailand aims to improve its labour protection standard to be in line with the international standards. Currently, Thailand is drafting the Prevention and Suppression of Forced Labour Act B.E. … and the Work in Fishing Act B.E. … with the aim to ratify the Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention (P29) and the Work in Fishing Convention (C188). The amendment of Labour Relations Act is also underway as a foundation for the ratification of the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (C98). All are scheduled to be finished by 2018.
In the drafting process of the aforementioned laws, several rounds of public hearings and meetings with all stakeholders were held. The ILO and relevant NGOs, such as the EJF and HRW, were also invited to provide comments and recommendations on both draft legislations. The Ministry of Labour of Thailand has taken those recommendations and comments into consideration and incorporated them into the drafted laws to ensure that such laws would be in compliance with relevant ILO conventions before proposing to the Cabinet and the National Assembly for further consideration.
The Thai government reiterates its commitment to continue to address the issue of labour in the fisheries sector. The mechanism for the effective protection of the migrant workers’ rights will continue to be improved and fine-tuned. The Thai Government stands ready to welcome suggestions and comments from all parties so that the Thai fishery industry can attain sustainability and be in accordance with the human rights principles.
MFA Press Release: Thailand’s Progress on Traceability Systems for Fish and Fishery Products
Thailand, as one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of processed aquatic animal products, is determined to develop a credible traceability system for aquatic animals, which are brought to Thai ports or processed in Thailand, to ensure that no aquatic animals derived from the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing will enter into the entire productions and processing lines in Thailand.
At present, Thailand is in the process of developing the Thai-flagged Catch Certification System for tracing catches aboard Thai vessels, and also the Port State Measures (PSM) linked and Processing Statement System (PPS) for catches on non-Thai vessels. The key concept is to create databases for systematically tracking the origin of aquatic animals, as well as to set up the automatic alerting for anomalous inputs being found at any stage, from landing of catch to processing. This is to make sure that the catch has not been engaged in IUU fishing.
Regarding the traceability system for catches on Thai vessels, the process starts from checking the origin of the catch, cross checking species and weight of the catch as recorded in the logbook against the actual ones recorded during landing, and issuing the Marine Catch Purchasing Document (MCPD). At the processing plant, the quantity of the catch taken out from the lot to be processed or to be exported will be automatically deducted against the original quantity to prevent any inclusion of unchecked aquatic animals into the system. At the last stage, the Catch Certificate to certify IUU-free products will be issued for exportation to a third country.
For catches from non-Thai vessels, since Thailand is a party to the Port State Measures Agreement, all non-Thai vessels wishing to land their catch at a Thai port must undergo the inspection of documents required for the advance request for port entry, including the Catch Certificate from the flag state, the vessel inspection, and the cross checking of species and weight of the catch measured at port against those measured at processing plant. Then the system will keep track of the quantity used for processing or exporting from the total quantity to prevent unchecked catch from entering the system. Lastly, for exportation to a third country, the Processing Statement will be issued to certify IUU-free products.
Thailand will continue to improve the effectiveness of the IT system for traceability, including the development of an automatic alert function and the development of the mobile application to link databases of transshipment from the vessel to the port until reaching the plant, to reduce the official’s burden in examining documents. Additionally, measures to control the deliveries of aquatic animals via cargo containers, trucks, and by air will be formulated with a view to closing opportunities for smuggling of illegal catch into the production line.
The development of the traceability systems, which are now fully functional, demonstrates the remarkable progress of Thailand’s fisheries reform. This will be continued as Thailand is moving towards becoming an IUU-free country, and an exemplary model for the region on how to tackle the IUU fishing.
Thailand Sets up Special Arrest Teams for Fishing-related Crimes at Sea
In March 2018, H.E. General Chatchai Sarikulya, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, appointed five special arrest teams to inspect and arrest offenders of fishery-related crimes and human trafficking within the fisheries sector in 22 coastal provinces as one of the measures set up to strengthen law enforcement in the fisheries sector.
The special arrest teams comprise officials from the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Fisheries, and the Ministry of Labour to speed up the arrests of offenders at sea by utilising in-depth information and intelligence. From 11 to 22 March 2018, the five teams arrested both Thai and non-Thai vessels conducting illegal activities in violation of the fisheries laws and the labour laws, resulting in 50 cases that were prosecuted in both criminal courts and via administrative sanctions. The 50 cases included 19 Thai vessels and 7 foreign vessels on charges of labour and fisheries misconduct, and 24 vessels on labour-related charges.
The special arrest teams have successfully achieved their mandate of arresting a number of offenders within a short timeframe. They will continue on this mission and will provide further training to inspectors of the Port-in Port-out Control Centers (PIPO) to strengthen their monitoring, control and surveillance capacities at port. This is to ensure that the inspections both at port and at sea will apply the same standard, and to deter any potential misconduct by enforcing strict inspections.
Thailand Announced the Roadmap towards the IUU-Free Thailand
4 April 2018
On 3 April 2018, the Thai Cabinet approved the roadmap for the development of Thailand’s fisheries to be free from aquatic animals and fisheries products obtained from the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and also the establishment of the national committee on IUU aquatic animals and fisheries products-free fisheries as a preventive mechanism to ensure that no IUU aquatic animals and fisheries products would enter Thailand’s domestic market as well as the production chain for exportation.
During the past three years, in a continuous effort to combat the IUU fishing, the Royal Thai Government has set up systems and mechanisms which have been delivering concrete results in many areas, with a view to pursuing the following roadmap towards becoming an IUU-free country.
1. All Thai fishing vessels, of all types, sizes, and functions, must be registered into the system for effective control. All vessels’ equipment and conditions must also comply with legal restrictions.
2. The vessel’s personnel must meet the qualification and minimum number of personnel as stipulated in the law. Migrant workers must be legally registered and are entitled to protection according to international standards.
3. Fishing gears must comply with the law in terms of types and sizes, and must be verified prior to and during fishing activities, especially for overseas fishing vessels. The fishing activities must be reported through the electronic reporting system for transparency and inspection.
4. Fishing areas and fishing periods for both inside and outside territorial waters must be restricted as identified in the fishing licenses. All vessels must install the vessel monitoring system.
5. Aquatic animals caught by Thai-flagged vessels and those imported from other countries must undergo the stringent traceability inspections according to regulations and systems, including the Port State Measures Agreement to which Thailand is a party. Moreover, Thailand will develop the Thai Catch Certificate Scheme for other exporting countries to abide by in order for effective traceability of the catch.
In addition, the Royal Thai Government has also set up the National Committee on IUU Aquatic Animals and Fisheries Product-free Fisheries to monitor and mobilise the above-mentioned measures to engender concrete results, as well as to promote Thailand as a regional leader in combatting IUU fishing.
Key Progress on Illegal Ivory Trade Suppression in Thailand
2 April 2018
Thailand attaches utmost importance in combating wildlife trafficking, closely cooperates with international organizations and actively participates in actions to terminate ivory trade in Thailand. According to the latest analysis of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS analysis), Thailand’s status on illegal ivory trade has been upgraded from the ‘primary concern’ to the ‘secondary concern’ by CITES which was announced at the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) in 2016. This positive development was highly complimented by CITES Secretary-General. The upgraded status comes as a result of the progress made under Thailand’s National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) in regulating ivory trade in the market.