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Thai economy continues to grow despite global economic slowdown and the escalating U.S.-China trade war, said Thailand’s Consul General Nontawat Chandrtri


Thai economy is projected to grow around 2.7 to 3.2 per cent this year, said Chandrtri. “It’s driven by favourable growth momentum of domestic demand.”

That includes public and private investments especially in the eastern economic corridor area and the government’s stimulus package, he added.

The stimulus package is worth 316 billion-baht (about US$10 billion).  It’s designed to support farmers, low-incomer earners, the elderly and bolster the Thai economy including stimulating domestic tourism growth.

Chandrtri was speaking on Wednesday at the celebration of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday which is also Thailand’s National Day and Father’s Day.

“Under the policy of Thailand 4.0, the value based and innovation driven economy will move the country forward to become a developed and sustainable country based on people centred development,” said Chandrtri.

Trade and Investment

Thailand is currently Canada’s second-largest overall trading partner in the ASEAN region.  As of September 2019, canadainternational.gc.ca. cited that bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Thailand totalled $4.3 billion in 2018.

That’s up from $4 billion in 2017, with $780 million in exports to Thailand and $3.6 billion in imports from Thailand. Bilateral trade in services totalled $416 million in 2017.

Chandrtri is optimistic there is significant room for expansion in trade and investment between Thailand and Canada. “Trade and investment promotion is the key priority for Thai offices here in Canada.”

“The Thai trade office in Vancouver has work hard to actively create opportunities such organizing and facilitating several trade missions for Canadian importers, exporters and investors to Thailand and vice versa.”

Silk Road Today - Thai Economy Powers Forward Amid Global Headwinds

(Left to Right) Doi Chaang Coffee Co. (Canada) founder John Darch, Louise Darch, Thai Consul General Nontawat Chandrtri, Consul Pottanee Homjitt (Nikao Media)

Thailand-Canada Relations

He emphasized both countries “have enjoyed cordial ties for almost 60 years”, dating back to 1961. Since the Thai monarch’s visit to Canada in 1967, relationship between the two countries “has expanded bilaterally and multilaterally.”

Cooperation continues in many areas including political, economic, social, cultural, education, science and technology. He cited former Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland’s successful visit to Thailand recently.

As the 2019 ASEAN chair Thailand successfully hosted the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok last June. “Throughout our ASEAN chairmanship, Thailand was committed to strengthening stability, sustainability in all dimensions, and cooperation and close partnership with all our friends, Canada included.”

“We appreciate Canada’s engagement in the region to ASEAN lead mechanisms. We support Canada’s collaboration and cooperation projects to help strengthen ASEAN Canada relation.”

Social and Cultural Relations

Chandrtri said his consulate continues to organize events to strengthen ties and friendship between Canada and Thailand, and people network. Among the events are Thai Festival in Vancouver, Thai Cuisine in the Garden and Thailand corner.

He proudly noted that the Thai Festival has become one of the largest outdoor cultural festivals in Vancouver city. The 6th edition this year had an estimated attendance of 55,000 visitors.

Silk Road Today - Thai Economy Powers Forward Amid Global Headwinds

B.C. Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston speaking at Thailand National Day celebration in Vancouver on December 4th, 2019 (Nikao Media)

In this speech, B.C. Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston said “British Columbia takes great pride in its relationship with Thailand.” He acknowledged the importance of the Thai diaspora community in B.C.

“Diversity is also one of our great strength in the business world. Collectively, the ASEAN Nations have become one of the fastest economies in the world.”

Ralston reiterated Chandrtri’s comments that, “notwithstanding a global slowdown, the Thai economy continues to surge forward.”

This provides an opportunity for B.C. businesses to build on current demand while looking for new opportunities. Ralston said currently a small amount of B.C. fresh fruit has been sent to Thailand.

Whether it’s through shared cultural connection, trade, tourism or international education, there’s much to celebrate, he said. He added that his government is looking forward to building on those successes.

Vikings, what their burial attires reveal about their penchant for fashion and their connection to the Silk Road.

Vikings are known for being fearsome, seafaring warriors and skilled traders.  In Norway, their reign lasted 250 years.

Little was known about their taste for luxury goods such as silk, until the discovery of the Oseberg burial mound in 1904.  One of the two women found in the mound was thought to be Norwegian Queen Åsa of the Yngling clan.

On this Silk Road conversation, University of Oslo professor, Dr. Marianne Vedeler talks about the silk fragments found in the Oseberg ship burial.  How the elite Vikings adorn the luxurious fabric on their fashion accessories.

What her finds revealed about the Viking trade on the Silk Road and the value of silk in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages.

Interview with University of Oslo professor, Dr. Marianne Vedeler on the Vikings connection to the Silk Road

(TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW)

The transcript of the interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

SILK ROAD TODAY:  Thank you Dr. Marianne Vedeler for joining us on the Silk Road conversation this afternoon.

Can you tell us what your discovery in the Oseberg ship burial, about the Vikings and the connection to the Silk Road?

DR. MARIANNE VEDELER:  It’s very interesting to see all these silks in one single grave from the Viking Age found in Norway. It tells us all the raiding and trading that the Vikings did.

They went very far to get these silks.  Some of them are from Central Asia and some from the Byzantine area.

It also tells us about how the different traders met on their way and interpreted the silk in different ways.

Silk Road Today - Vikings Are More Fashionable Than You Thought

Replica Oseberg Ship at the Viking Ship Museum and silk fragments found at the Oseberg burial mound. (Johan Berge/Visitnorway.com/Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

We can see that it’s used in different ways in Central Europe and far up in the north, in Scandinavia.  The patterns and the mythology laying in the patterns are used differently in different areas.

Silk came to Scandinavia for the first time in the 9th century.  We know that because in the burials that archaeologists are excavated, we find silk for the first time in the 9th century.

I have studied silk from the 9th and 10th centuries and that’s the earliest silk was ever found in Scandinavia.

The Scandinavians didn’t have the technology or the raw materials to produce silk themselves.  It’s obviously imported from Central Asia and from a large Persian production area.

Scandinavian Countries Where Silk Was Discovered

SILK ROAD TODAY: Was it through the artifacts of the Oseberg burial site that contains silk or was it in other places in Scandinavia that silk was found.

VEDELER:  Silk from the 9th and 10th centuries have been found in 23 sites in a total of 94 graves spread all over Scandinavia.  In some core areas, we found a lot of silk.  Some silks spread all over, even high up in the north of Norway.

It’s also found in Denmark and Sweden and some places in Finland as well. The biggest find was actually the Oseberg burial site – it had the largest amount of silk.

Yes, the largest amount of silk and also the most varied in one single grave.  That is from Oseberg in Norway, and there we have a lot of different kinds of silk as well.  You not only have samitum or samite silk but also embroidery made of silk.

And they probably imported silk threads because we can see that textiles made in Oseberg area or the southern part of Norway both contain traditional North patterns. They have used threads of silk.

Silk Road Today - Vikings Are More Fashionable Than You Thought

Close up view of the silk threads (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo)

Trade and Travel Route

SILK ROAD TODAY:  In your presentation earlier you spoke about how the silk was transported from the east to Scandinavia going through Russia and going through Central Asia.

Now, did the Viking ships actually travel all the way to Persia to get the goods or how did they travel… the route that they went.

VEDELER:   We don’t know this. Probably the silks have gone through different hands and different people along the way.

Probably people from both Scandinavia, from Central Asia and from the areas between have contributed to bringing the silks along the way.

How Was Silk Used ?

Silk is only found in the very rich graves in Scandinavia. The richest graves contained silk and it must have been very, very expensive. We can see that in a grave like Oseberg.

Two women were buried with a lot of different objects: 15 horses, four wagons, a lot of equipment, and yet the silk fragments are very tiny and small.

They were first used face on. Then when they were worn, they used the underside. That tells me that silk has been very, very precious at this time.

Silk were probably sewn on to tunics and headwear. But we don’t always see how this is done because the other parts of the garments are almost always gone.

So it’s difficult to see exactly how they were used but, they were probably used in tunics in life.  And then when they were buried, the richest people were clothed in this material.

It went from a garment used for daily life and was later transformed into a burial garment.  So that’s why the Viking ships from Oseberg is the world’s best preserved Viking ship in the world.

SILK ROAD TODAY:  Well, thank you very much doctor for sharing your insights on the silk discovery in the Oseberg burial site.

VEDELER:  Thank you.

Dr. Vedeler has published her discoveries in her book, Silk for the Vikings (Ancient Textiles) and it’s available for purchase online.

I have compared the silk found in Oseberg with other silk finds from the Viking Age in Scandinavia. There is a common pattern of distribution, use and origin in all of Scandinavia.

The use as well as the meaning of colours and patterns differs from what we see in the production areas and also from other parts of Europe.

Still, I argue that silk became a link between the aristocratic Christian Europe and the chiefs of the heathen North.

The silk should be seen as an actor in the political game of Scandinavian leaders in the Viking Age, connecting and associating them with leaders in other parts of Europe.

It`s economical and esthetical value and it`s value as an exotic object made it a useful actor on the political scene across ethnic and religious boundaries.

When these silks finally reached Scandinavia from Byzantine and Persia, they were regarded as extremely precious. This is expressed in many ways.

Only the richest and most highly ranked men and women were buried with silk. The fabrics were cut in narrow strips that were sewn onto clothing such as headwear and tunics.

In addition to the large ship, the two women buried in the Oseberg grave were provided with 15 horses, four wagons, a sledge and equipment for a whole house hold, among other things.

Yet, some of the samite silk strips sewn onto their clothing were first in use for a long time and then to be turned and sewn on again with the less used back side turning out.

By studying such grave findings carefully, we can conclude that these people were buried in clothing that they had used in life, and that silk was regarded as very valuable.

How Turkey is re-emerging as a global hub for trade and travel, and the significance of the tea and coffee in Turkish tradition.

Turkey is a fascinating country. In ancient times, caravanserais (caravan inns) welcomed travellers along the Silk Road (ancient superhighway) from Anatolia to Cappadocia and Istanbul.

In this Silk Road conversation, Consul General Anil Bora Inan of the Republic of Turkey in Vancouver explains why Turkey is an important global crossroads for trade and travel.  He shares insights on the Turkish tea and coffee culture, and some of the country’s unique attractions.

Interview with Turkish Consul General Anil Bora Inan on Turkey’s connection to the Silk Road

(TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW)

The transcript of the interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

SILK ROAD TODAY:  Why is Turkey such an important country on the Silk Road?

ANIL BORA INAN:  Well, I believe, of course there is this historical perspective to that, but also, in modern day we see a very important and an increasing trade between China and the European continent.

There are a number of routes that connect these two big economies.  And one of the most feasible, most historically proven route is the central route where Turkey is the main country that is connecting Asia and Europe.

Old and New Silk Road

We see Turkey or Anatolia in the past being the most ‘intact’ and important part of this road, Silk Road – in terms of bringing goods from China to the European continent.  And it is still holding true for the day.  As we see there is also the need to increase the land transport for these goods.

Silk Road Today - Why Turkey is an Important Actor on the Silk Road

Turkey is reviving the country’s position as the crossroads between Europe and Asia with new infrastructure to meet the growing global trade. (Rep. of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism)

When we look at the volume as of today, Europe and China trades more than a billion dollars worth of goods per day.  And this is set to or expected to increase to two billion dollars a day in the next decade.

So there is a thinking in China and many countries between China and Europe to reconnect these continents through land structures, railroads, highways and also some river passages.

Turkey in the sense offers one of the most economically feasible alternatives in the Central Corridor, so this is the reason why Turkey is an important actor in terms of Silk Road, ancient and modern day.

Turkish Cuisine and the Silk Road Connection

SILK ROAD TODAY:  What are some of Turkey’s contributions and influences on the Silk Road?

INAN:  When we look at history we see that Turkish cuisine is deeply influenced by the goods that are traded from China, and silk road tea as we call  it Çay in Turkish is one of the most important ingredients of the Turkish cuisine today.

Of course some spices such as, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, these are all what we have received from China and added into our cuisine.

They are very essential – they’re the most essential parts of Turkish cooking culture these days.  But of course, it’s not only about what we eat for our cuisine, but also we see as you rightly put, the caravanserais.

When you look at Anatolia you can see these caravanserais – where the merchants, the caravans of the day and the merchants stop by to overnight and stay at a safe place.  We have a number of architectural sites that we can also attribute to the Silk Road.

One of the most mentioned ones in the world cultural history is Sardis in Izmir, western Turkey.

And of course when you look at the territories that the Ottomans, the Turks have governed for instance, we see Nineveh and Babil (Babylon), now of course, they are in Iraq.  These are also some other cultural heritage sites that are part of the historic Silk Road.

Silk Road Today - Why Turkey is an Important Actor on the Silk Road

In Turkish culture, offering a guest a cup of tea or coffee, is a sign of friendship and hospitality. (Rep. of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism)

Turkish Tea and Coffee Culture

SILK ROAD TODAY:  I know Turkish hospitality is very well known, and tea and coffee is part of that.  Can you tell me a little more about that?

INAN:  When you look at the statistics, Turkish people are ranked number one in terms of tea consumption per person.  So in the world, Turkish people consume the most tea per person. We are also a producer of course. We have learned about tea through the Silk Road.

It was not in our culture before but now for a very long time, tea has become a liquid, a drink that we enjoy every hour of the day.

We start our breakfasts with a tea, we continue with tea.  And we of course, end up with the tea even before we go to sleep, so we always drink tea.  And in a Turkish house without the Turkish tea is always an incomplete one – that is how we consider.

Of course coffee, we never forget about our coffee.   We’re proud of the Turkish coffee.  We don’t grow coffee unfortunately.   In the past in the Ottoman times we used to import coffee from Yemen.  We now import it from various other countries.

But it is the way we roast, and it is the way we schedule our day actually.  Even our breakfast is called “the thing that we eat before our coffee”.  So even our breakfast is named in relation with coffee – it is that important in Turkish culture.

Istanbul – Bridging Europe and Asia

I have missed to mention the most important part of Turkey, and that is Istanbul. Istanbul city is the biggest economic hub of Turkey.   It connects Turkey to Europe.

It is actually a city that connects two continents, Europe and Asia.  And this historic ancient Silk Road and modern-day Silk Road is going to use Istanbul as one of the most important corridors.

Istanbul is ready for that because we have already completed underground and sea tunnels, railroads, railroad connections through bridges.   We have invested a lot in our infrastructure in Istanbul.

We have the biggest airport of the world, actually going to be operational by this October 2018, and seaports are in the phase of completion by the end of this year.

Turkey, in terms of Silk Road the modern-day Silk Road, has made significant investments.  And Istanbul with all its history, culture and modern day investments, again its cultural contributions, is one of the best places to see in Turkey.

Silk Road Today - Why Turkey is an Important Actor on the Silk Road

Balloon Rides Over the “fairy chimneys of ancient Cappadocia in Central Anatolia. (Rep. of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism)

Bucket List Places

You have mentioned Cappadocia.  Cappadocia is my personal favorite. I have seen many places in Turkey and I can confidently assure you that probably, that is the only place in the world that you will see what wind erosion can make out of a rocky structure.

You can live in some caves.  And Turkish people lived in those caves until the 1960s.   You can grow grapes out of which you can make wine, and the early Christian people have done that trying to evade the Mongolians.

They have gone underground, built underground cities, grow their own grapes and made their wines.  You can keep cool in summer and keep warm in winter.   That is a fascinating place, with the balloon rise in the day.

You’ll really like it if you are into winter sports. Turkish Eastern resorts offer you wonderful opportunities. My personal favorites in terms of season, is summer.

You’ll never be disappointed to see the Turkish Riviera, actually the Mediterranean coast and the Aegean coast.  You’ll be very, very pleasantly surprised to see several places just in these coasts.

Left to Right: BC Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston with president Celso Boscariol and executive director Alex Martyniak both of the EU Chamber of Commerce in Canada West. (Nikao Media)

Free trade is a hot economic and political topic these days. While NAFTA is still in legal limbo, CETA is showing signs of progress.

Negotiations are still underway with the contentious North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has put the Canada in a bind. Across the Atlantic, Canada’s trade with the EU is moving along.

Last September, the CanadaEuropean Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was provisionally implemented. The accord removes virtually all tariffs on goods flowing between Canada and the EU.

Why CETA benefits Canadian Businesses

The EU represents the world’s second largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP). In 2017, total EU GDP amounted to $23.1 trillion. The EU is Canada’s second largest trading partner.

“Even with Brexit looming and United Kingdom’s impending departure from the EU, the EU will still remain larger than the US economy and provide us with a very lucrative market,” said Celso Boscariol, president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in Canada West, at the first anniversary celebration of CETA in Vancouver yesterday.

“CETA will facilitate access for Canadian businesses to a prosperous EU market with more than 400 million inhabitants. Adding the UK, that would be over 500 million people. This will offer Canadian businesses significant opportunities to diversify their sales and services without dependency on the US market.”

Boscariol added that CETA creates a lot of opportunities, particularly for small to medium size business. Both EU and Canada are 90 percent powered by small and medium-sized enterprises. He highlighted five key points that will benefit Canadian businesses and professionals.

  • Removal of tariffs on exported and imported goods
  • Access to government procurement contracts
  • Labour mobility
  • Harmonization for the accreditation of foreign credentials
  • Harmonization of regulatory standards

Related: Lyon: Heart of the European Silk Industry >

Opportunities for British Columbia

Canada is the first country that the EU has ever established such an ambitious accord. Canadian companies will have a head-start to develop businesses with the Europeans before other countries.

Speaking at the celebration, BC Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston said that with the pending NAFTA deal and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), British Columbians would have even greater work and business opportunities that will last for a few generations.

CETA Setbacks

In her recent interview with the Canadian Press, European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom cited a lack of awareness in Canada and a wave of anti-globalization nationalism overseas may be contributing to Canada’s slow start to seizing CETA opportunities.

According to the Pew Research Center survey, few people globally see the EU as the world’s leading economic power. The EU is not perceived as a powerful economy as the U.S. and China.

Canada has met the legal requirements for CETA to come into full force, but not the EU. Under EU law, all 28 EU member states must receive approval from their respective parliaments at the national and sometimes, regional level.

Silk Road Today - Has CETA Benefited Canadian Business One Year Later?

The figures show an increase of Canadian exports to the EU since CETA’s provisionally came into effect. (Nikao Media)

Progress One Year Later

CETA showed early signs of success, despite setbacks that may hold Canadian companies from moving swiftly to capitalize on the great opportunities. Exports from Canada to Denmark are up 51 per cent, followed by Sweden 27 per cent, Poland and Netherlands, 23 per cent.

Port of Montreal, the country’s second largest port reaped CETA benefits as container traffic jumps almost 20 per cent in July compared with the same month last year, cited The Globe and Mail.

Silk Road Today - Lyon: The Heart of the European Silk Industry

Lyon is the go-to-place for high quality French silk. Fashion House Chanel and Birkin bag maker Hermes set up their manufacturing plants in the region.