by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) March 7, 2012
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday pledged floods would never again disrupt business in the kingdom as she sought to reassure investors during a trip to Japan.
The Thai premier said she had ordered the establishment of schemes to help companies get back on their feet from the disaster that knocked businesses sideways last year.
"I have reaffirmed to the Japanese government and business leaders that the Royal Thai government is committed to ensuring that the devastation caused by such disasters will never happen again," she told reporters in Tokyo during a joint press conference with her Japanese opposite number.
"(The Thai government) has expedited assistance to affected factories in order to rehabilitate their operations as soon as possible," she said, adding it had created a fund to subsidise disaster insurance for businesses.
As many as one in 10 Japanese companies in Thailand said they were considering leaving the country in the wake of the flooding, which crimped supply chains and hammered profits.
The Thai government has since launched a charm offensive as it seeks to reassure investors that the kingdom remains a good place to do business.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Thailand and Japan, which mark the 125th year of diplomatic relations this year, share the same basic values and remain strategic partners.
The two countries "agreed to enhance cooperative relations in the areas of space, railway and information computer technology development at a time that Thailand needs to build infrastructure following the floods", he said.
Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano, who met Yingluck earlier, proposed the sale to Thailand of Japan's observation satellite system to help the country monitor and forecast flood damage.
Thailand suffered a double-digit contraction in the final three months of 2011, the sharpest on record, as the worst floods in half a century pummelled the nation's industrial sector.
The months-long floods took a heavy toll on Thailand's industrial heartland north of Bangkok, with many factories forced to close temporarily.
Yingluck is due to meet Crown Prince Naruhito, who is standing in for Emperor Akihito after heart surgery, and visit Japan's tsunami-hit northeast on Thursday.
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Fires brought 'under control' in Congo munitions depot: army
Kinshasa (AFP) March 6, 2012
Fires that have raged since Sunday's deadly explosion at a munitions depot in Brazzaville have been brought under control, the Republic of Congo's military said Tuesday. "The two fires have been brought under control since yesterday," defence ministry spokesman Colonel Jean-Robert Obargui told AFP by telephone from neighbouring DR Congo capital Kinshasa. Obargui warned that even if the f ... read more
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