HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand wins sugar war with EU

SET points to growth of online trading

Govít revenues expected to meet target this year

EU expresses desire to strengthen ties with Thailand

Thailand wins sugar war with EU

Thailand vowed to boost sugar exports after the World Trade Organization (WTO)ís Dispute Settlement Board upheld a complaint by major sugar-producing nations against European Union (EU) subsidies to its sugar farmers.

Thailand, which had teamed up with Australia and Brazil to fight the EU subsidies, is now celebrating after an EU indication that it would accept the WTOís decision despite not agreeing with it.

The decision forces the EU to discuss with the sugar-producing nations a timetable for ending its subsidies to sugar farmers, which the sugar-producing countries said violated WTO regulations.

Under WTO rules, the EU now has 90 days to come up with a timetable, and 15 months in which to end the subsidies.

Mrs. Phuangrat Assawabhisit, Thailandís ambassador to the WTO, hailed the decision as good news for Thailand, as it would edge up global sugar prices and enable Thailand to expand its sugar exports. (TNA)

SET points to growth of online trading

More people are now choosing to trade in stocks via the Internet, with online trading set to account for 10-15 percent of total trading value within the next five years, according to the chief executive of

Figures cited recently by Mrs. Chanisa Cutiphat show that 29 brokers in Thailand now offer an online service, with online trade accounting for 6.82 percent of all trade in the first quarter of 2005.

There are now over 73,000 online trading accounts in Thailand, accounting for around 20 percent of individual investors, and this number is expected to rise further in part due to continuing government support.

Factors which support the expansion of online trading in Thailand include the exponential growth of the Internet population, the increasing proportion of individual stock traders as opposed to corporate ones, and the development of Thailandís Internet facilities which are making for increasing speed of online data transmission. (TNA)

Govít revenues expected to meet target this year

The governmentís tax revenues from the Revenue Department are expected to meet their target in this 2005 fiscal year, as the departmentís tax collection in the first seven months has exceeded what was earlier targeted by more than Bt41 billion, according to the director-general of the revenue department, Sirote Sawasdipanich.

Sirote told TNA that he believed the departmentís tax collection throughout this 2005 fiscal year would reach Bt820 billion as targeted.

ďThis is because in the first seven months of this fiscal year, or from October 2004 to April 2005, the department has collected Bt420.72 billion in tax revenues, exceeding its earlier target by up to Bt41.38 billion, or 10.9 percent,Ē he noted.

ďThe departmentís tax revenues have increased amid the countryís economic slowdown, like several other countries, due to negative factors, particularly the global oil price hike,Ē he added.

Sirote said he also believes that the departmentís tax revenues in the 2006 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, 2005, would also meet the governmentís target of Bt1.009 trillion.

The government has reportedly set its expenditure budget for the 2006 fiscal year at Bt1.36 billion, targeting that its total revenues from tax collection of the Revenue, Customs and Excise Departments could reach Bt1.009 trillion, Bt120.4 billion and Bt312.5 billion respectively.

The government also hopes to have Bt64.6 billion more in revenue from state enterprises and Bt11 billion from the privatization of some state enterprises next fiscal year. (TNA)

EU expresses desire to strengthen ties with Thailand

The European Union has expressed a wish to cement its relationship with Thailand, amid continuing concern among Thai academics that the existing relationship structure is fraught with possibilities for misunderstanding.

Addressing a seminar on Thai-EU trade, Friedrich Hamburger, head of the European Commission delegation in Thailand, spoke of the Ďextremely goodí relationship between the two areas.

Trade between Thailand and the EU was valued at around Bt600 billion last year, making the EU one of Thailandís major trading partners.

But over the past year, all has not been plain sailing in trade relationships, and Thai fishermen, in particular, have been putting pressure on the EU to return Thailandís trade privilege status under the generalised system of preference (GSP), a move which the EU appears to have agreed to.

If the move is endorsed by EU member states, Thailand will see the return of GSP for its fisheries products, ready-made food and beverages, rubber and plastic products, leather products, shoes, electrical goods and canned tuna as early as September 1 this year.

But what the EU now wants, according to Hamburger, is to strengthen its ties with Thailand to encompass new fields such as education.

The closer relationship will be exemplified later this month when the two areas hold a joint meeting on small and medium-sized enterprises, expected to be attended by 200-250 European and 300 Thai companies.

The EU has also indicated that it could back down on strict regulations concerning chicken exports, and that while it remains concerned over avian flu, it will not use this as an obstacle to the growth of bilateral cooperation.

But academics pointed towards new areas to branch out into bilateral cooperation if Thailand and the EU were to avoid some of the misunderstandings that have plagued their relationship in the past.

Dr. Somchai Pholphaswiwat, a politics lecturer at Thammasat University, spoke of the need to expand into areas such as tourism and the transfer of technology to Thai SMEs, while calling on the EU to reform its common agricultural policy (CAP).

He also stressed that Thailand should allow time to catch up with its richer EU trading partners, and that careful negotiations are needed to reduce differences and misunderstandings. (TNA)