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TMCNet:  Thar's pirates in these here parts

[January 31, 2013]

Thar's pirates in these here parts

Feb 01, 2013 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Businesses are warning ocean liners about vessel robberies occuring along the Eastern Seaboard.

Pornsil Patcharintanakul, a vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said robberies have picked up the last few years due to rising commodities prices. In the past, robbers only took a few things carried by ocean liners, but the situation has deteriorated these days, he said.

"Commodities such as beans and sugar can easily be resold after the robbery," said Mr Pornsil, adding that some liners have avoided the robberies thanks to tight security.

Importers and exporters have coped so far by claiming the damages from insurance companies, but Mr Pornsil warned that if the robberies becomes more severe, the insurance premiums may rise.

"I don't want to see Thailand becoming more like Somalia. A number of marine patrol officers have not visited enough of the vessels," said Mr Pornsil.

Paiboon Ponsuwanna, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), was flabbergasted that ship robberies were returning now after dwindling for more than a decade.

He said in the past, Thai companies were blamed by business partners for being dishonest if the amount of goods shipped to export countries was less than the purchase order.

"It is very bad news for Thai manufacturers that this problem has returned," said Mr Paiboon, adding that agricultural products are the main target.

Although traders can claim the damages with insurance companies, he said the image of Thailand will be seriously affected in the eyes of foreign companies.

In the past, using land transportation could help avoid robberies because Global Positioning System equipment can track lost shipments.

He said TNSC, which represents nearly 3,000 exporters and shippers, will soon discuss this issue among its members to prevent robberies from increasing.

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