News / Asia

On Mekong River, Worries About Surging Trade With China

On Mekong River, Worries About Surging Trade With Chinai
X
January 14, 2013 11:04 PM
China's rapid economic expansion in Southeast Asia has led to increasing reliance on the Mekong River for trade. Dams and new ports are expected to help trade in the coming years, but not everyone is welcoming the development. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Saen, Thailand.
China's rapid economic expansion in Southeast Asia has led to increasing reliance on the Mekong River for trade. Dams and new ports are expected to help trade in the coming years, but not everyone is welcoming the development.

The Mekong River since ancient times has served as a major transport route. Now, with modern ships and new ports, the river is becoming a key part of China’s rapid economic expansion.
 
Since 2004, annual cargo volumes have tripled between Thai and Chinese ports - to about 300,000 tons, partly a result of a 2003 Free Trade Agreement between China and its ASEAN neighbors.
 
The booming trade is also due in part to a special “Early Harvest program” between Thailand and China, that charges no tariffs on more than 100 farm products. Local vendors are not happy with the increased competition.
 
“The Chinese produce is cheaper than Thai products so it impacts the Thai farmers -- they cannot sell their own vegetables,” says San Ang Somalin, a local Thai vendor.  
 
Many here feel the tariff system is tilted against them. China’s stricter food hygiene controls and a goods and services tax cut into profits for Thai exporters.
 
But the one of the biggest complaints is the transportation network itself.
                                                                               
“All the boats belong to the Chinese and they control the shipping costs and any extra expenses," says Saya Khamneund, an economist who studies the impact of dams on river communities.  "And because the Chinese have built many dams upstream, they can control the water level so more boats from China can export more produce downstream.”
 
In the Thai border town of Chiang Saen, signs of the changing demographics are hard to miss. At local markets, imported Chinese produce sells quickly as buyers scoop up bargains. But many here still support home-grown producers.
 
“Thais prefer to eat their own crops such as chili and other vegetables," vendor Somalin said. "So the Chinese produce ends up being shipped to Bangkok.”
 
Despite the local grumbling, Chinese imports are poised to increase with a newly opened second commercial port.
                    
“The main reason we built the new port was because in the future they will have more produce from China," said Weera Jinnikorn, manager of the Chiang Saen port.  "The old Chiang Saen port received 300,000 tons per year. That’s the reason the Thai Port authority decided to build a new one that could handle up to six million tons per year.”                                                 
While trade steams ahead, Thai critics of the deal worry that unless the government steps in, local businesses will suffer as profits head upriver.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs