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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During the 69th Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC69) in December 2017, Thailand was recognized as a country that substantially achieved NIAP process with various measures having been implemented to combat domestic illegal ivory trade through legal reform, law enforcement and international cooperation. The Standing Committee also agreed to consider whether Thailand should exit the NIAP process at SC70 to be convened in Sochi, Russia in October 2018.
Significant progress made in combating illegal trafficking of Ivory Trade by Thailand are as follows;
The Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act B.E. 2557 (2014): The amendment, imposes the prohibition of trade in African elephant ivory in Thailand. The violation of this Act shall result in imprisonment of up to 4 years.
The Elephant Ivory Act B.E. 2558 (2015): The amendment aims to control the possession and ivory trade derived from domesticated elephants in Thailand. Possession of ivory, whether as personal effects or commercial purposes, must be registered. Domestic traders are required to apply for the trade permission. Trade, import and export of ivory without permission will result in imprisonment of up to 3 years and/or a maximum fine of 6,000,000 Baht (or USD 185,000).
NCPO Order on preventive measures to bring wild elephants to subrogate as domestic elephants: The Order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) No. 60/2559, which has taken effect since 28 September 2016, increases the protection for all domestic elephants by ways of the issuance of certificate and ID and the blood collection for DNA of the elephants. If the owners did not comply with this regulation, the elephants shall be taken as the property of the State.
The National Ivory Action Plan 2018 and its Indicators which are developed to comply with recommendations made by the CITES Standing Committee, focusing on (1) Legislations and regulations (2) National level enforcement action and inter-agency collaboration (3) International and regional enforcement collaboration (4) Outreach, public awareness and education (5) Reporting. The significant implementations including additional measures and activities that reinforce the efforts and operations to terminate illegal trafficking of ivory trade will be submitted to the CITES Secretariat within 1 July 2018 for Thailand to exit the NIAP process.
The Action Plan on Illegal Ivory Trade Suppression was declared by the Royal Thai Police in February 2018. Under the Action Plan, the inspection teams in 18 provinces where the remaining 117 authorized ivory shops are located, are appointed to inspect such shops at least once a month. The inspection site will also include international airports, seaports and risky areas exploited as an import or transit of the illegal trafficking of Ivory trade to monitor these threats and leverage the efficiency of the protection and suppression of Illegal trafficking of Ivory Trade in Thailand.
Ivory registration system: The execution of the robust ivory registration system leads to an outstanding reduction of ivory products trading in the local market. Currently, the number of ivory shops decreases to 117 shops, significantly dropped from 215 shops in 2015.
Import and export preventive enforcement: Enhancement of law enforcement focuses on detects and deters illegal import and export of ivory in targeted routes. Passengers’ belongings including cargo at borders, airports, seaports, and postal shipments from targeted countries are thoroughly inspected. This effort leads to the arrest of various major cases of ivory smuggling in 2017. Proactive intelligence exchange among Customs Department, CITES Management Authority and other CITES members leads to additional seizures such as:
Seizure of 330 kg. of 422 pieces of cut ivory at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on 3-4 March 2017
Seizure of 73.9 kg. of 16,720 pieces of cut ivory at Suvarnabhumi International Airport on 12 October 2017.
Human Resources Development
Law enforcement officers of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has been trained on how to control the illegal Ivory Trade in various provinces across the country. Also, there’re programs to disseminate information regarding the control of illegal ivory trade in Thailand for tourism businesses, tour guides and tourists at the airports, famous tourist spots and immigration check-points.
Raise Awareness Campaign
The “I am #IvoryFree,” a campaign by WildAid to deter the purchase of ivory in Thailand The Campaign invited Thai public to join in showing their support by creating their own Ivory Free photo at www.ivoryfreethai.org and posting the image to their social media profiles with hashtags #IvoryFree to never buy, own or accept ivory as gifts, and an acknowledgement that ivory belongs only to elephants.
2 April 2018
Division of Economic Information
Department of International Economic Affairs
30 March 2018
On 14 March 2018, the Criminal Court sentenced two defendants on charges of human trafficking on a fishing vessel to a 9-year-and-4-month period in prison. The victim was deceptively taken by an agent to work for the two defendants at the fish market, but was subsequently sent to work on board the fishing vessel “Por. Samutchai 62” which belonged to the first defendant, and where the second defendant was working as the vessel master. While working aboard, the victim did not receive the wages as promised, and was not allowed to have enough rest and food, and thus later filed a complaint to police officers against the two defendants.
In addition, on 27 March 2018, the Criminal Court issued a 5-year imprisonment verdict on four defendants, who were former police officers, on charges of demanding benefits from the trafficking of 40 Rohingya migrants in Songkla Province, and the illegal release of the offenders in 2016. The Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission identified the case as a criminal offense and serious breach of discipline, and thereafter the Office of Special Attorney in charge of anti-corruption cases transmitted the case to the Criminal Court in March 2017. The Royal Thai Police has additionally expulsed the four police officers in this regard. On the same day, the Prime Minister also issued an order to remove 13 other police officers from office for allegedly being involved in four cases of human trafficking, which are now under investigation for further disciplinary and criminal punishments.
The rulings in these two cases demonstrate the Royal Thai Government’s serious commitment in systematically tackling the human trafficking and issuing severe punishment to any government officials engaging in human trafficking especially in the fisheries sector. From 2015 until now, Thai authorities have prosecuted and concluded 40 out of 85 cases of human trafficking in the fisheries sector, with the maximum imprisonment of 11 years.
On 21 March 2018, Mr. Steve Trent, Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) paid a courtesy call on His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan at the Ministry of Defense, and discussed Thailand’s progress in combatting illegal fishing.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit informed Mr. Trent of Thailand’s progress in tackling the IUU fishing in various dimensions, including fishing fleet management, enhancement of monitoring, control and surveillance effectiveness, law enforcement, and amendment of laws to support the preparation for Thailand’s ratification of relevant ILO conventions. He confirmed that, despite changes of government in the future, the fisheries reform in Thailand would continue under the existing legal frameworks and mechanisms already set up by the present Government. Even though the Government had to endure severe pressure from fishermen and fisheries businesses nationwide, it would remain tirelessly committed to tackling the cause of the problems. This effort had led to the stage of Thailand’s progress today. He reiterated that Thailand was ready to enhance its leading role in this matter at the regional level by sharing its experiences with other countries facing the same challenges.
Mr. Trent expressed his admiration for the Royal Thai Government’s endeavours and its progress as portrayed in a number of concrete results. He was confident that Thailand could be a good example of the country successfully solving IUU fishing for the regional and global levels. EJF would stand ready to support Thailand in this matter to achieve its ambition to become an IUU-free country which would also pave the way towards the IUU-free ASEAN in the future.
Mr. Trent was of the view that Thailand’s efforts in the past three years have overhauled the entire fisheries sector which not only benefited Thailand directly, but also other countries in the region. Thailand’s leading role in this issue was therefore crucial. He emphasised the need of transparency to reduce the relevant costs incurred, and the engagement of all stakeholders including the fisheries industry to take part in this at the regional level.
EJF is a private organisation which plays an important role in protecting the marine environment including combatting IUU fishing. Over the past three years, Thailand has cooperated with EJF through recommendations and technical assistance to increase effectiveness of the mechanisms set up for handling IUU fishing and labour issues in the fisheries sector. Recently, the Government has invited an EJF representative to be part of the Working Group on Labour Relations Promotion in Sea Fishing Operation, and also the other working group on drafting laws in support of the ratification of relevant ILO Conventions.
On 27 March 2018, the Thai Cabinet approved the draft Ministerial Regulation on Labour Protection in Sea Fishing Work (No. ...), B.E. ...., which contained important amendments to the Ministerial Regulation on Labour Protection in Sea Fishing Work B.E. 2557. The draft Ministerial Regulation requires that sea fishing workers be paid monthly wages via bank accounts and that employers who own oversea fishing vessels shall provide communication devices for fishing workers to communicate with authority concerned or family members during their time at sea.
In the previous regulation, the method of wage payment for sea fishing workers varied according to each employer. However, the new regulation requires the employers to pay the workers on a monthly basis which must not be less than daily minimum wage rate multiplied by 30 days. Moreover, the payment must be paid via bank accounts to ensure transparency and accountability, to prevent unfair wage deductions as well as to help solve the issues of delayed and inaccurate payments.
The Thai Ministry of Labour is working with commercial banks and the National Fisheries Association of Thailand to facilitate the reception of workers’ monthly wages via ATMs. The number of ATMs at 32 Port-in Port-out (PIPO) Centres in 22 coastal provinces, fishing piers, fish markets and in fishing workers accommodation areas has increased to 80 machines, equipped with software in the native languages of the foreign workers. Apart from this, collaboration with the Bank of Thailand to set the criteria and standard for all commercial banks for the opening of bank accounts of foreign sea fishing workers is ongoing.
In addition, the Ministry of Labour has been working with the ILO to raise awareness of the workers on the new regulation of the wage payment via bank transfer by producing information via various forms of media available to foreign workers in their local languages. Three stakeholder meetings covering 22 coastal provincial areas were held to provide knowledge on labour protection law, fishing workers’ contracts and payroll accounting management to vessels owners, fisheries associations, sea fisheries businesses, and representatives of commercial banks and government agencies. The meetings attracted more than 760 participants.
Concerning the regulation on the provision of communication devices for sea fishing workers while at sea, it is one of the mechanisms that will enhance the crew’s quality of life and provide them with a channel of communication to make complaint and to be able to quickly report any problems that occurred.
The aforemwntioned developments reflect the Thai Government’s commitment to protect workers in the fisheries sector from falling victim to forced labour and human trafficking, to improve the management of labour in Thai fisheries to be more effective and also to work toward the ratification of the ILO’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188).