ASIA:Thailand, Aust to combat people trafficking

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Subject: ASIA:Thailand, Aust to combat people trafficking
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Nov 19 1999 - 07:43:55 EST


Does anybody know if these meeting talked about trafficking for forced labor?

Melanie

           ASIA:Thailand, Aust to combat people trafficking

AAP 11-17-99 12:56 PM

   By Ron Corben
   BANGKOK, Nov 17 AAP - Thailand and Australia today moved toward greater
cooperation to combat a rising tide of illegal immigration and people
trafficking.
   The issue was raised in the joint talks between Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer Thai counterpart Surin Pitsuwan at a meeting of senior
foreign affair and trade ministers.
   Also attending the one day ministerial economic commission (MEC)
meeting was Trade Minister Mark Vaile and Thailand's Commerce Minister
Supachai Panitchpakdi as well as senior officials from both nations.
   Business representatives also attended the talks held in the southern
Thai province of Nakhorn Si Thammarat, 780 kms from Bangkok.
   The issue was raised at a time of growing concern in both countries
about illegal immigration.
   Thailand is currently conducting a campaign to send back to Burma up to
600,000 illegal Burmese workers in the western border provinces, many
working in low paid factory employment.
   And Australia is on alert for thousands of boat people reported to be
arriving from the Middle East.
   A statement released late today said both foreign ministers "agreed
authorities of both countries should coordinate closely on means for
strengthening both countries' capacity to solve the problem (of
trafficking and illegal migration)".
   The MEC, covering a spectrum of foreign and trade policy issues, is the
highest level bilateral mechanism to exchange views and promote
cooperation on foreign policy and trade.
   Mr Vaile, in the statement, said he applauded Thailand's economic
reform process, but "encouraged Thailand to continue to lower tariffs to
further open Thailand's economy and enhance its global competitiveness".
   Thailand and Australia, the statement said, would be exploring ways to
enhance "bilateral cooperation on electronic commerce" given the "enormous
on-line market potential for Thai and Australian goods and services in
East Asia and North America".
   It also said "Thailand and Australia could work closely to combine
their competitive strengths in on-line financial services, professional
services, manufacturing, retail and logistics through electronic commerce
technology," it said.
   Both countries agreed to "further encourage trade liberalisation in
global markets", through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
agreement, and cooperation by way of the ASEAN Free Trade Area and the
Closer Economic Relations agreement between Australia and New Zealand.
   Other announcements included Australia's ongoing funding for a
development cooperation program until the end of the 2000/2001 financial
year and Canberra's offer of about $A765,462 to a proposed joint
ASEAN-Asian Development Bank Economic Surveillance program.
   AAP rec/arb/br

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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