EU threatens to ban Thai fish exports

Thailand’s fishing industry is still under scrutiny. Source: Wikimedia

The European Union has warned Bangkok to “promptly” address human rights and slavery issues in its fisheries industry or face an export ban.

Thailand is a major exporter of seafood, with annual revenues of almost US$5.4 billion and an EU ban would seriously affect the industry.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said there was no sidestepping the slavery issue.

Thailand, the world’s third-largest seafood exporter, was warned by the EU in April to improve practises or face an export ban. 

Annual Thai fish exports to the EU are estimated at between US$624 million to U$792 million.

“We are still assessing whether Thailand has made sufficient progress in delivering on the actions [it was asked to take in April],” Vella told the media.

“Regarding human rights, slavery on board and so on — yes, apart from the fishing issues, the commission also believes that Thailand should also address promptly the human rights issues,” he said. 

The EU Commission is not expected to make a ruling until late next month.

In more positive international news, Beijing and Bangkok have launched a railway project to develop Thailand’s first standard-gauge double-track train line.

A launching ceremony was held at Chiang Rak Noi Station in Ayutthaya province, north of Bangkok, where the operations control centre is due to be built. 

They are collaborating to construct the medium-speed line, using 1.435-metre standard gauge speeds of 160-180 kph.

The 845-metre line is set to link Bangkok with the northeastern town of Nong Khai on the Laos border, opposite the capital Vientiane.

So far nine rounds of talks have been held in the hope of starting construction by May 2016. 

Beijing is already constructing a train line through Laos. 

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