Friday, October 23, 2009

Shipping Industry Downturn May Strain Already Tense Asian Meeting

Trade and Political Rows Brew up Between Nations Ahead of Conference
Shipping News Feature

CHA AM – THAILAND – The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will begin their postponed summit on Friday in an extremely tense atmosphere. The original April meeting did not take place due to the political protests in Pattaya. Now trade disputes over the shipping of exports and imports between invited guests India and China will add an unwelcome frisson to the conference.

India has taken action in recent months to prevent Chinese migrant workers settling in the country by stiffening their visa policy whilst in turn China has issued visas to occupants of disputed territory. India views China’s strategy as expansionist and has already banned certain Chinese imports on the grounds of safety including the infamous polluted milk scandal but also sweets and toys whilst considering protectionist policies for tyres, chemicals and power plant equipment.

Even more disturbing is the sabre rattling between the two over the hotly disputed territories that border the two countries, arguments have flared and villagers have clashed with soldiers as India moves toward closer trade ties with the US, seen by some as a political insurance policy.

The ASEAN meeting is actually for its ten smaller nations but subsequent meetings will include China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and the matters under discussion range from human rights, which will doubtless upset Mynamar, the recent outrage of Thailand with Cambodia, who have just offered sanctuary to former Thai premier Thaksin, and subjects which it is to be hoped will generate more concordance namely climate change solutions and disaster management in the region.

Pic River frontage Bangkok (courtesy J. Shingleton)