- - Thursday, November 10, 2011

THAILAND

Thailand aims to help companies amid floods

BANGKOK | Thailand on Thursday offered more help to businesses affected by a national flood crisis as water spread deeper into Bangkok and risked cutting off a major highway.

The flooding since late July has killed 533 people and caused billions of dollars in damage, closing hundreds of inundated factories north of the capital.

The water has nearly surrounded Bangkok, flooding a dozen of its outer districts and threatening chaos in the crowded city of nearly 10 million people.

The floodwater is trickling onto the main route south from the city, Rama II Road. If the water gets deeper, it will cut off the last dry highway to Thailand’s south and likely swamp unflooded areas of southwestern Bangkok.

The industrial closures have had an effect well beyond Thailand because the factories supply key components for several industries, particularly the automotive and computer sectors.

Thailand’s Board of Investment, which grants tax holidays and other privileges to investment projects, already has taken steps to mitigate flood damage, such as giving tax write-offs for damaged raw materials and easing rules on bringing in foreign nationals to help with recovery.

New measures announced Thursday include allowing companies to temporarily outsource all manufacturing in order to maintain customer deliveries and extending by six months import tax exemptions on replacements for damaged machinery.

MALDIVES

Karzai: India, U.S. deals no threat to region

ADDU | Afghan President Hamid Karzai attempted to ease tensions with Pakistan, asserting Thursday that a strategic partnership with India and talks for a similar U.S. deal do not threaten his country’s neighbors.

Pakistan had reacted angrily to the India deal announced last month that many in Islamabad fear would increase its archenemy’s influence in Afghanistan.

The pact, the first Afghanistan has signed with any country, included provisions for India to help train and equip Afghan security forces.

Some feared Pakistan could respond by increasing its alleged support for Afghan insurgents to ensure that its own influence in its neighboring country did not wane.

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