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Thai tantrums

I do not understand why many Thais are being hysterical about US President Donald Trump suspending trade preferences for Thailand under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

GSP is a concession from the US government permitting developing countries to export eligible goods to the US without import duty.

There are currently 131 GSP beneficiaries. Thailand has received the GSP privileges for 4,000 products exported to the US since 1976.

The agreement was due to end on Dec 31, 2017, but the US extended it until 2020. Around 3,000 items from Thailand still benefit from GSP.

The salient point of the suspension rests in workers' rights in Thailand, in particular those relating to seafood products. The documentary Ghost Fleet and the recent release of the film Buoyancy, which both reveal the horrors of slavery in the Thai fishing industry, fit well with Mr Trump's decision, and his desire to bolster his public image in view of the 2020 presidential election. It is hoped that that this two-pronged focus on human rights abuses in Thailand may lead to the end of the ongoing torture at sea.

The government has made it clear that the GSP suspension is not final, but is negotiable. This is scheduled for discussion by the prime minister who is correct in warning us not to protest and turn it into a political issue at the Asean Summit in Bangkok. Meanwhile, the government will pursue increased trade possibilities to other countries, and introduce measures to help exporters affected by the US decision.

Producers of these goods will in turn have to make a sustained effort to look for new markets, attract new buyers, create new quality products, and no longer rely too much on GSP privileges. That can only be a positive thing in the long run.

Dusit Thammaraks

Meaning of 'now'

Micheal Barber is not correct in claiming that "this point in time" is exact in meaning to "now", (PostBag, Oct 30).

It can be used in the past tense. It was 1937. At this time, Germany was greatly increasing its military might. It can be used for the future. The green lines will open at the end of this year. At this time, Bangkok will have more than Xkm of BTS rail. And, yes, it can be used to mean "at the present time", which is the same as "now".

Mr Barber should keep his quaint and incorrect language ideas to himself, and stop confusing current students of English.


Pedantic groans

Just to pour oil on the pedantic fire, "at this point in time" is not a direct equivalent of "now". This phrase, annoying as it may be, means "just now" or "right now", used when alluding to something which is in progress, or may or may not occur. Correspondent Michael and a host of others, like rusty door hinges, will just have to groan away.

Nick Nicholson

Roads shocker

I am a late arrival to Thailand. I was 63 on my first visit and now, at 72 have not returned to my country of birth for nigh on six years. Adapting has been a mixture of ease and frustration. I adore this country enough that my ashes, in due course, will flow down the Mekong. The question I wish to cast out to your readers! Are the attitudes on our roads culture, indifference, governance or a combination? Grass roots I am asking. Drive safely, folks.


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