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Free-trade zone plan must bridge disparities

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An Asean plan to create a new free-trade zone consisting of 16 countries in the region was mooted over the weekend during the Asean Summit. The proposed East Asia Free Trade Area would cover half of the world’s population and account for one-third of global gross domestic product.

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The proposed plan would cover Asean, three countries in East Asia, along with Australia, New Zealand and India. If the plan is realised, economic ties among countries in East Asia and the Pacific should be strengthened.

“What we are seeing now is a couple of ideas on having a more integrated market in terms of trade and investment in the region,” Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kazuo Kadama was quoted as saying after the East Asia Summit in Cha-am over the weekend.

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The East Asian Free Trade Area is designed to boost regional trade, especially with the US and the European Union – the traditional markets of many countries in the region – being so severely affected by the global economic recession.

The East Asian Free Trade Area is also a step further on the road to a regional trade agreement as the Asean single market is set to be effective from next year. Under this plan, Asean will fully implement a free-trade agreement among the original members Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

via Free-trade zone plan must bridge disparities – Nationmultimedia.com.

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50:50 campaign may not get immediate extension

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The government’s 50:50 co-pay campaign expiring on 31st March may not be getting an immediate campaign extension. The Minister of Finance says campaign evaluation is needed to improve future campaigns.

The Minister of Finance Arkhom Termpittayapaisith today announced the government may not be able to reach a conclusion on the extension of the 50:50 co-pay campaign in time for the current 31st March campaign end date, as evaluations are needed to better improve the campaign.

Originally introduced last year, the 50:50 campaign is a financial aid campaign for people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the government subsidizes up to half the price of purchases at participating stores, with a daily cap on the subsidy amount of 150 baht, and a 3,500 baht per person subsidy limit over the entire campaign.

The campaign has already been extended once, with the current end date set for 31st March.

The Finance Minister said that payout campaigns for the general public are still valid in this period, allowing time for the 50:50 campaign to be assessed, and to address reports of fraud at some participating stores.

The Fiscal Police Office Director General and the Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Kulaya Tantitemit, said today that a bigger quota could be offered in Phase 3 of the 50:50 campaign beyond the 15 million people enrolled in the first two phases, while existing participants will need to confirm their identity if they want to participate in Phase 3, without the need to fill out the registration form.

Mrs Kulaya said the campaign will still be funded by emergency loan credit allocated for pandemic compensation, which still has about 200 billion baht available as of today.

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Customs Department Considers Measures to Help SMEs

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The Customs Department is seeking ways to reduce the impact of the exemption on import tax and value-added tax (VAT) for imported goods worth up to 1,500 baht, as such measures are hurting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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