Saturday, 29 July 2017

UK and Thailand weaving through air pollution? With EU and Surin silk?

The UK has stepped on the gas in the first week of dynamic Environment Minister Michael Gove's reign.

The former Justice Minister and Education Minister and arch-Brexiteer and would-be PM, and Times columnist has released the UK's first Air Pollution Bill consultation of the 21st century witheld due the June 8th election and a general lack of policy and direction.

If Norway will phase out pollution from the combustion engine by 2025 then France and now UK will do so by 2040. It’s perhaps not such a radical step given VW announced earlier this year - hastened no doubt by the DieselGate emissions scandal and fines - it will cease manufacturing combustion engine vehicles by 2030. And Volvo this month announced it would do so by 2019.

Every car now on the road, or bought in the next decade would be scrap metal by 2040 anyway but it is a clear start to clear the logjam.

Surely more could be done faster with public sector procurement on police cars etc - BMW's new Mini, unfortunately only screwdriver assembly from Bavaria, in the Midland's Engine at Oxford and Nissan's new Qashqai efforts in Sunderland's part of the Northern Powerhouse, and Ford's Port Talbot plant in Wales should surely be factored into the mix with British jobs?

Nevertheless it's a forward UK step and Minister Gove clothed himself in similar green garb such as tweaks to end live animals in the last two or three UK circuses. And ending live animal exports on cruelty grounds - that now only through Ramsgate's port, and occasionally Dover's, and a point I support in my politics campaign.

The noxious trade resulted in the slaughter of 40 sheep in 2012 through the badly-managed port, an incredulous High Court case noodling on the on the rates on the finer points of free trade.

## UK exports pear shaped? ##

And the accident waiting to happen of SS Joline, a Soviet tank transporter designed for the Baltic rivers now defended by a breakwater of UK and NATO troops, weaving its way through the Channel and busiest shipping lanes in the world, with crates of sheep on deck.

A stomach-churning sight matched with Minister Gove quickly urging restraint on Trade Minister Liam Fox's chlorine-washed chicken imports from USA potentially breaching EU's higher food safety standards. Supersize KFC buckets of fried chicken and pink goo McDonald's feeding into the wider need of fast food reform whether store or menu design.

Despite Minister Fox's sterling efforts UK exports are still far lower than they should be: the latest GDP figures just a soggy 0.2% about half of the previous year's.

Trade efforts aren't all going pear-shaped though: The Times details Argentina's Malbec grapes and wine are an astonishing 31.6% increase through Asda supermarkets and cleverly marketed through the Summer as UK's BBQ wine.

USDA ratings and trade integration opening the market for Patagonian pears too. While cheaper wine brands such as BBQ-central Australia's Lindeman's brands are facing a 30% fall by contrast plus 41% of Brits curbing their drinking whether financially or health driven.

A point surely not lost for Thailand given the GI – Geographical Indication - status this week by EU, perhaps via its Bangkok-ASEAN office along with UN-FAO, for Surin silk. Isaan's cloth and craftsmanship also recognised along with Hom Mali rice and Northern Thailand's Doi Chang coffee.

Khun Apiradee Treerutkuarkul's fascinating article "Spinning your Surin style" details Ban Sa village and Queen Sirikit's QSDS Dept of Sericulture efforts:
The GI status already protecting European brands such as Champagne and East Kent beer hops. Patents a key brand issue from the days and dyes of Chantilly lace and de Nimes cloth appropriated by California's Levis jeans.

UK and national treasures such as Welsh lace or Scottish tartan could learn much from Khun Kinnaree Rekcharoen of QSDS and Khun Arthorn Sangsomvong of Isaan Thai Silk Association along with wider cross-fertilisation of brands such as George at Walmart-Asda (now with B&M merger to turbocharge its clothing) or Marks and Spencer. Arcadia unfortunately still a stain on UK retail and legal from the Grabiner-Green scandal.

## Surin Silk economic corridor ##

Surin silk with its high gold thread count is patently a massive trade opportunity for Isaan and Thailand - whether developing a Southern Isaan economic corridor, or Royal Road to Cambodia or UK High St and City support. If silkworm cocoons and mulberry leaves provide a delicious Isaan cuisine then UK brands such as Mulberry must also be relevant.

Fashion expert Alexandra Haddow in the New European for example detailing the much smaller menswear market, compared to womenswear, showcase of LCM London Collections Men still worth c.$20BN in sales in 2015 for its two shows a year plus European markets such as Florence's Pitti Uomo trade show amongst many more. Jermyn St tailoring or Paul Smith must be a factor too for Surin silk from suit linings to socks.

While OTOP status is long overdue in UK and for UK brands in Thailand and UK whether Tesco Lotus or boutique brands.

Indeed a boon also for Cambodia with its GI accreditation for Cardamom pepper and now being cited by UK chefs with Asian fish and fruits. No doubt a spur to the food, and climate-controlled, mega-warehouses now being built on the Thai-Cambodian border feeding into those hispeed rail networks, certainly as an antidote to 40% malnutrition in Cambodia and Laos.

A mega-trade deal with USA or Commonwealth as a counterweight to losing EU access being another Brexit chimera. More closely at hand is the end of Brexit altogether given former PM Tony Blair and new LibDem leader Vince Cable speaking openly of its cancellation before it's even begun.

The only missed opportunity being the EU reforms rightly cited by former PM David Cameron prior to the Brexit referendum. Draining the wine lake and reducing the butter mountain have all been broadly succesful EU reforms over the years. EU fishing reforms are seeing the fished-out North Sea returning both cod and sea bass as well Kent's Marine reserves and a factor in Scotland's fishfarm growth – salmon GI status too.

As an aside, it does seem absurd that fishermen can't in effect be paid twice; once to reseed the oceans and then to fish them. While the accession of Eastern Europe in 2008 was balanced with work permits for say agricultural and medical workers in several European nations, except Britain. The longer the pretence of Brexit continues with the foreign perception of an unwelcoming Britain then the more the NHS and retail and agricultural sectors will suffer with EU workers voting with their feet and wallet and going elsewhere.

Fortunately this week East Kent with UK's first and last UKIP council and crop of incompetent, idle and unpleasant MEP's awaiting the chop in 2019, has suffered another wipeout to a minority administration restoring Kent to its welcoming tradition.

Far away Huddersfield's Felix the Cat in the welcoming tradition of Japanese railway station cats helping the trains to run on time. A moggie Mussolini of mice, and welcome addition to the UK rail network along with Japan Rail and Hitachi and Meiji Kent's train franchise. Hyper Japan festival in London going beyond the hype to detail another round of Japanese innovation from Hello kitty to Manga town to Tokyo 2020 preparations.

## Visegrad Kent ##

East Kent's elderly MP Roger Gale even chairing a Poland-UK parliamentary debate with the astonishing fact of UK being Poland's largest trade partner after Germany yet without a PM trade envoy or plan. An astonishing fumbling of the ball with Polish now the main UK language after English or Welsh – and East Kent a Videsgrad and East European heartland with the most Romanians in Canterbury CCU outside Bucharest.

Although endemic Labour and Tory and civil service corruption over Manston and Pleasurama and Thor mercury ensures the farce will cling at least through August's Margate by-election and another round of paydays for salaries and pensions before any clawback.

I've urged a Sarajevo Shift of reforms to move several EU institutions eastward. At first glance a foolish policy given East Kent's close links of tourism and transport and universities with Flanders and Belgium albeit invigorating those economies longer-term. Another vanity building for NATO in Brussels is tax waste given Putin's miscalculations in Ukraine and Crimea, indeed in Syria with Assad's poisonous regime too.

While Visegrad nations such as Czech republic MEP's highlighting food apartheid in Eastern Europe with different formulations and packaging sizes is a game changer for Europe’s food industries and EU. And in stark contrast to the great success of Budapest's' Fina swimming championships now showcasing the city and nation to its best and for future big-ticket events and infrastructure building peace and prosperity.

Britain's Adam Peaty confirming again Britain's status as a Sporting Superpower gaining all the top ten fastest swim times ever. Apt with Ramsgate's Little Ships highlighted in the Dunkirk megamovie in helping the British Army return home - with their French friends - without getting their feet wet.

But an astonishing failure of Kent tourism and Film marketing and I’ve highlighted EKFOS previously the East Kent film and Office. One bright spot in UK trade figures being the boom in the UK film industriy for studios and special effects companies from Disney invigoration of franchises such as Star Wars. And no doubt providing food for thought and urging on dynamic Tourism and Sports Minister Kent's Tracey Crouch with her aim of a n Olympic pool in every UK county. East Kent overdue on that score and long-delayed Bolero icerink.

And the farce of the Brussels-Strasbourg shuttle every few months is similar ceremonial tax-waste that could be redeployed further afield to the Visegrad nations if not eventual Moldova, Ukraine and Russian accession to the EU - along with the Maghreb and Levant nations beyond sandbanks and landmines.
Monstrous absurdities such as 900 landmine deaths in Lebanon are ripe for EU HALO trust and MAG work given efforts in Cambodia and Laos and Zero Mines by 2025 - as are the Iron Harvests of mines and UXO still reaped in Belgium and Kent, and WW2 battlefields of North Africa.

With peace efforts ongoing in Libya, such moves must be key for Britain and Germany and Italy, along with Desertec solar prosperity by BP and a Beyond Petroleum future for Arabia.

## Air pollution choking NZ and Wales too ##

But if air pollution is a toxic factor in UK with 40,000 deaths each year, that figure can only have been underestimated from Infratil's removal of Manston airport monitors one of the key nodes in the London and South East air monitoring network.

No doubt a similar toxic policy affecting staff, workers, tourists and citizens around Infratil director's last redoubt at Wellington Airport in New Zealand. No wonder Air New Zealand helps market New Zealand as 100% Pure Air if they're serial-polluting elsewhere. Minister Gove's Brext rival Boris Johnson popping up in NZ among the sheep to try and drum up a mega trade deal this week.

Such horrific air pollution must also be a factor for contenders such as Surin Pitsuwan and the Bangkok governorship - Bangkok being far more active with pollution and public transport measures in recent years. And if an initial failing in the UK air pollution plan is a lack of detail around Heathrow expansion and pollution, surely fellow-Bristolian, Surin would be reviewing Don Muang and Suvarnhabumi expansion with U-Tapao and Eastern Economic corridor as well as Thai Airways plans for 28 new jumbo jets and Bristol-Cardiff manufacturing hub.

As a former Rolls Royce teaboy, getting in the way of my father making engine parts for Rolls Royce and Concorde, the Thai airways and Rolls Royce corruption scandal is painful to witness and depressing the Midlands Growth Engine from Derby to the new electric Mini in Coventry - and Birmingham airport by far the best of the bunch during the airports reviews - indeed UK Space Agency growth.

The Gove announcement for UK version of DARPA undoubtedly unleashing both greater UK and USA cooperation and innovation of the military-industrial nexus, as with the success of the internet, and scandalous failure of F35 jets for UK and USA and NATO taxpayers and soldiers, on useful issues such as materials, batteries, vaccines as successfully implemented by StartUp Nation Israel.

And if the Operation Stack lorry park and garden megatown are now rated a red economic danger by the National Audit Agency then under-playing air pollution from shipping form the afore-mentioned Channel shipping lanes, is a factor in the Manston monitors fakery for over ten years now.

Mullet-haired Tim Wetherspoons sticky carpet pubchain with the new Wetherspoon's Pavilion mired in pro-Brexit twaddle, then concerns over EU workers rights for his boozers, and council corruption, asbestos and resignations.

While the Buriram motorsports race track, recently cited by tourism expert Richard Barrow must surely be a contender with Kent's Brands Hatch or Silverstone for both sports tourism and economic development and R&D say a UK-Thailand eco-Grand Prix whether for electric vehicles powered by flowers or biowaste. The fuss and furore around the Circuit of Wales racetrack has currently stalled the project but could be jumpstarted on eco-grounds with an infusion of leeks or daffodils.

Welsh national policy launching an innovative minimum pricing on alcohol in its health bill and vigorous opposition from Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood for a specific Cancer Fund Health Bill adjunct not just for the effects of air pollution but innovations in lesser-known cancers such as bowel and liver.

## Brexit silliness and autoparts ##

It seems astonishing UK public policy failure with NHS one of the world's largest employers after the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army and AsdaWalmart, and UK's c.130 world-leading univerisities not to be more closely woven with pharma giants such as Pfizer and Glaxo - whether in UK or ASEAN - and cancer courses in every university.

Brexit silliness continuing for much longer past Parliament's vacation would see the unravelling beginning with for example the European Medicines Agency moving from London Docklands.

Both Japanese and Eire policy makers rightly vocal on the silliness of Brexit - Japan even allying its words with practical support if needed of trade negotiators for UK from its experience of EU and USA (and UK with Eurocopter) trade dealings.

Already dynamic Eire policy makers are urging the brakes on Brexit but competing with Paris and Frankfurt for such rich pickings along with new Bank of America headquarters in Dublin - perhaps an echo of regionalism blind spot affecting most governments, compared to say Cork and new port-hispeed rail infrastructure tightening the links on southern and northern Ireland's economies if not Glasgow's.

While automotive expert John Neill Chairman of Unipart the main autoparts and rail producer writing last week in The New European newspaper detailed not just the dangers of Breixt on planes and trains and automobiles, and buses, but the vigorous and seamless growth potential from electric vehicles - that must surely shape and retool Thailand's automotive and satellite industries.

Surin silk is clearly just one steel thread that should bind UK and Thailand more closely with Europe and USA.

Time for Change

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