Economy August 05, 2014 01:00

By The Nation

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Foreign Trade Dept plans solution centre to tackle non-tariff barriers

The Foreign Trade Department plans to set up a Trade Solution Centre to help companies cope with rising non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in global trading. 
“Trade problems have tended to increase sharply amid the stiff competition in global trading. Many countries have raised NTBs, causing difficulty in trading,” director-general Duangporn Rodphaya said yesterday.
A working committee is considering setting up the centre to solve international trading issues. Thailand has no specific agency directly responsible for trading problems, so businesses don’t know where to ask for assistance if there is any problem. 
The Trade Solution Centre will receive complaints about problems that Thai firms may have and try to find solutions. The centre will help coordinate with other government agencies and foreign agencies so that each problem can be solved quickly. 
The centre will also draw up a strategy to prevent future problems for Thai traders and start up a warning system to alert traders to prepare for new NTBs or new regulations that could hinder growth.   
The department plans to set up the warning system through its website and social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. 
Australian network selects Thaicom unit 
Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN Co) has selected Thaicom’s wholly owned subsidiary IPSTAR Australia for a new initiative to boost broadband connections for Australians who cannot access an existing commercial broadband service. 
Under the NBN Co Satellite Support Scheme, IPSTAR Australia, or IPA, as an official wholesaler, will deliver the scheme together with participating Internet service providers (ISPs) in Australia. 
Patompob Suwansiri, chief marketing officer at Thaicom, said yesterday that since 2005, the company had delivered Internet services via the IPSTAR satellite to Australia’s remote communities that otherwise could not have accessed a commercial broadband service. 
“I am proud IPSTAR continues to make a difference in the lives of many Australians and the country’s educational, farming and health sectors.” 
The NSS Scheme is expected to connect up to 9,000 additional premises in remote and regional mainland Australia and Tasmania, until NBN’s long-term satellite service is launched late next year. NSS is exclusively available for users unable to access a commercial broadband service. 
Premises eligible for NSS must be within line of sight of the IPSTAR broadband satellite and have never subscribed to a service via the Australian Broadband Guarantee or the Interim Satellite Service. 
The NSS Scheme is designed to deliver wholesale speeds of up to 4 megabits per second download and 1Mbps upload. IPSTAR will provide ISPs with a minimum download performance equivalent to 2.6Mbps for 20.4 hours per day.
Exim exec promoted
The Export-Import Bank of Thailand has appointed Pranee Pornsuksavang, senior vice president of the accounting department, as executive vice president of accounting and budgeting as well as procurement and general administration, effective last Friday. 
Pranee received her bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s in accounting and business administration from Thammasat University. 
She joined Exim Bank in 2007 as vice president of accounting. She became first vice president of accounting in 2007 and senior vice president this year.
MBK, Tokyu form JV for shopping centres
MBK has formed a joint venture with Japanese company Tokyu Department Store to open the second Tokyu store in Thailand, at Paradise Park in the first quarter of next year. 
Suvait Theeravachirakul, chief executive officer of MBK, said yesterday that the new store would be a 50:50 joint venture between Paradise Retail Co, a subsidiary of MBK Group, and Bangkok Tokyu Department Store Co. The estimated total investment for the development would be about Bt400 million.
MBK Centre, one of the country’s largest and most recognised shopping complexes by both foreign and local visitors, is where the original Tokyu Department Store has been successfully operating for 29 years.  
Bangkok Tokyu Department Store Paradise Park will have a total gross floor area of 13,165 square metres, occupying the first and second floors of the shopping centre. 
The department store feature leading Thai and international brands and products with the aim of cashing in on the strong purchasing power represented in eastern Bangkok, with more than 1.7 million households (10 districts) in a 10-kilometre radius. 
Purple Line to be operational in mid-2016 
The Mass Rapid Transport Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has confirmed that the Purple Line from Bang Yai to Tao Poon will be fully operational by the middle of 2016.
In a statement, Yongsit Rojsrikul, governor of the state agency, said there had been progress with the construction and the electrical system. Parts of the process should be completed ahead of schedule.
“A recent visit to Japan convinced us that we can start the trial run at the end of 2015, for full operations in mid-2016,” he said.
Marubeni Toshiba Joint Venture has the contract to supply train carriages, the signalling system and the service centre.
Bangkok Metro, the operator of the MRT subway, will operate the Purple Line under a 30-year contract that will end in 2053.
There will be 16 stations along the 23-kilometre route.
TV/set-top box vouchers too cheap, group says
The Radio-Television Broadcasting Professional Federation and some digital terrestrial TV operators oppose a scheme to give away vouchers for the purchase of digital set-top boxes or television sets with built-in digital tuners, saying their Bt690 value is not enough. 
Jamnan Siritan Nunbhakdi, president of the federation, suggested that the value of each coupon should be Bt1,000. If they are worth only Bt690, too few households will move to the terrestrial-based digital TV platform, creating difficulties for broadcasters. 
She said that today the federation along with high-ranking executives from digital TV channels One HD, GMM Channel, New TV, True4U, Thairath TV, RS Channel 8, Channel 7 HD and PPTV HD would discuss the possibility of withholding licence fees from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.
HD broadcasts by SD licensees probed
The broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has asked its competition 
subcommittee to determine within 30 days whether the broadcast of high-definition (HD) programming by three holders of licences for standard-definition (SD) digital TV channels to some satellite-TV set-top boxes constituted unfair competition.
Broadcasting committee chairman Natee Sukonrat said yesterday that the subcommittee had to conclude whether this was unfair practice and, if so, how the NBTC should proceed. However, he declined to confirm the names of these three operators. 
The subcommittee reported to the committee for preliminary consideration that RS and Workpoint had aired HD content via PSI’s HD-compatible satellite set-top boxes, while TNN had done the same for TrueVisions. The three hold only licences to air SD content.