Thailand to push for common visa for ASEAN
Thailand will push for a common visa system for the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when it assumes chairmanship of the regional bloc this year.
Visiting Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej told President Arroyo that a common visa system for ASEAN would allow its ten member- countries to become a single tourist destination and share the popularity of tourist spots in the region.
Mrs. Arroyo welcomed the plan for a single visa system in ASEAN, and said the plan would allow tourists to the most popular destinations to spill over to other tourist spots.
“Thailand is the acknowledged leader in tourism in our region. And I am glad that His Excellency, the Prime Minister, thinks it is a wise idea to share Thailand’s market with the rest of ASEAN,” Mrs. Arroyo said during the welcome ceremonies for Prime Minister Samak last Thursday night in Malacanang.
Mrs. Arroyo committed the Philippines’ support for a common visa system in ASEAN which, she said, would increase tourist arrivals in ASEAN.
“So I hope that we will be having more package tours that include each other, and also work during the leadership of Thailand of the ASEAN to have a common visa for all the ten countries so that citizens who visit Thailand can also visit one or the other of these countries in the ASEAN,” she said.
The proposed common visa for ASEAN will allow foreigners to visit all the ten countries of ASEAN with just one visa.
The proposal is in keeping with the planned full economic integration of ASEAN by 2015, which would be patterned after the single economy of the members of the European Union.
The ASEAN is composed ofs the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, and Singapore.
Thai Prime Minister visits Guadalupe market in Makati
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday visited a public market in Guadalupe, Makati City and vowed to continue rice export to the Philippines at “negotiable” rates.
The Thai premier, together with Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, arrived at the wet market at about 7 a.m. and proceeded to monitor prices of rice sold at the grains section.
“The Prime Minister said that if the Philippines needs rice sales, Thailand would be more than open to supply,” Yap told reporters since Samak prefers not speak to the press.
Samak met President Arroyo in an evening banquet at Malacañang last Thursday to discuss, among others, the global food crisis and the Philippines’ need to fill its production gap of 2.7 million tons of rice supply for this year alone.
Yap, who was also present in the Thursday meeting, said the premier reportedly pledged continued sale of rice to the Philippines at a “negotiable” selling price.
“No volumes were discussed yet, but he (Samak) said the price will be negotiable and any sales would be a ‘government-to-government’ transaction,” said Yap, adding that the President thanked Samak for the proposal.
Although the Thai premier failed to commit any volume of supply, Yap said Arroyo was thankful for Samak’s offer made “in the spirit of ASEAN unity and brotherhood.”
Aside from being the world’s top grains importer, Thailand is set to assume chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in July. Aside from the Philippines, the association includes as members the countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Vietnam. (Kris Bayos)