World Economic Forum report shows Thailand’s rating moves up slightly
According to a report released by the World Economic
Forum on November 12 that ranks countries as to their competitiveness,
Thailand is inching its way up the scale. The kingdom has moved up slightly
in this year’s rankings, which also named China, India and Malaysia as
countries making great strides forward.
The report uses two methods to analyze competitiveness.
The Growth Competitive Index (GCI) is based on three categories of variables
that drive economic growth; public intuitions, technology and the
macro-economic environment. The Microeconomic Competitiveness Index
evaluates underlining conditions which define the sustainable level of
productivity in each country surveyed.
Eighty nations were included in the 2002 ranking.
Thailand stands in 31st place for growth and competitiveness and was ranked
35th on the micro-economic competitiveness scale, which is up from 33rd and
38th respectively in 2001.
According to the report, the US leads the Growth
Competitiveness Index, overtaking Finland which was ranked 1st in 2001 and
is now in 2nd position, and Taiwan, Singapore and Sweden follow.
Among emerging economies, China and India registered
significant improvements in their relative positions, to 33 and 48
respectively from 39 and 57 last year. These substantial improvements were
due to their stable macroeconomic environment. The report did say, however,
in the case of China, potential risks have been recently introduced due to
problems in China’s banking sector.
Thailand edged up two positions in the overall
growth-competitiveness ranking to 31. The kingdom’s advantage has been in
the macroeconomic environment (ranked 11), but the country continues to
perform poorly on technology (ranked 41) and public-institutions (ranked
Although Thailand was elevated three positions to 35th
place this year it still placed lower than nations such as Slovenia,
Estonia, Chile and Tunisia.
On the Company Operations and Strategy and Quality of the
National Business Environment sub-indexes of this category, Thailand is in
33rd and 35th place respectively.
Developing nations whose microeconomic competitiveness
improved significantly include Slovenia, the Dominican Republic and Sri
The report said that Malaysia was the country which
showed great leaps forward in a number of areas, including cluster vitality,
the rules governing competition, value-chain presence, branding, and the
nature of competitive advantage.
On the other hand, several developing nations have
suffered a decline in microeconomic competitiveness including Thailand’s
neighbors the Philippines and Indonesia. (TNA)
Krung Thai Credit Card forced to reject applicants
As a result of the Bank of Thailand’s recent decision
to curb interest rates and reintroduce minimum salary requirements, Krung
Thai Credit Card (KTC) said it has been forced to reject many applicants.
KTC director Niwat Jittalarn said that the company will
have to focus more on the expansion of personal loans which currently has no
On November 7th of this year, The Finance Ministry and
the Bank of Thailand (BOT) confirmed plans to impose a minimum salary
requirement for acquiring credit cards as well as a ceiling on the interest
that card issuers can charge.
BOT Governor Pridiyathorn Devakula said that the new
required a minimum monthly salary of 15,000 baht and an 18% cap on annual
interest charges will help prevent credit card defaults and avoid a debt
crisis among low wage income earners.
The central bank’s move has prompted both foreign banks
and non-bank credit card issuers to move in the same direction with KTC,
trying to turn to earn more income from personal loan provision schemes.
A senior management executive at Standard Chartered
Nakornthon Bank admitted that the new BOT regulations have affected the
bank’s credit card business. “Credit card services have high operating
costs since we do not have as many branches as local commercial banks. We
have to hire marketing teams at higher rates. Huge amounts were spent in
various marketing campaigns and promotions in order to offer more privileges
to our clients,” he said. “In the meantime, we may have to trim
marketing and promotion campaigns budgets and emphasize personal loan
programs which have higher rate of return,” he added. (TNA)
SET chief upbeat about investment return in bourse
The SET chief recently stated that the Stock Exchange of
Thailand is one of the stock markets in the region which has provided
impressive return rates.
SET president Kittirat na Ranong said the local bourse
has given investors a return rate of around 20% over the past year. Prices
of many listed firms on the SET are relatively low since they hover close to
the same level as before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in
the United States on September 11 last year.
Kittirat pointed out that fundamentals of listed
companies have now improved significantly as could be witnessed by the
combined net profits of around 100 billion baht in the first half of this
“It is expected the combined profits will reach 200
billion baht for the whole year. That means the price/earning ratio of the
local bourse will be below 10 times. So, I believe that Thai stocks have an
opportunity to rally considerably,” Kittirat said.
He said many companies continued to list on the market.
Since early this year, 15 firms have gone public with their stocks being
traded on the SET and the Market for Alternative Investment. As well, 29
more are planning to list on the market either before this year is over or
early next year.
Kittirat said the country’s economy has recovered and
is showing positive growth. The economy is expected to continue growing in
the future given the increase in international reserves to a present US$37
billion compared with $27 billion in 1998.
He added that foreign debt burdens have decreased to
$64.4 billion from $109 billion in 1997. This reflects the country’s
competence in generating high revenue. He said the excessive liquidity in
the financial sector will keep interest rates low. (TNA)
Fly Chiang Mai - Chittagong direct after December 12
Bangladesh hoping to attract Thai investment
THAI Airways International will launch a regular flight
service on the Chiang Mai - Chittagong route (a tourist spot in Bangladesh)
with 3 flights a week, starting from December 12, according to HE Hemayet
Uddin, the Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand. The inaugural flight will be
presided over by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Uddin, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Thailand
On the Bangladeshi side, the launching ceremony of the
first flight on this direct route is expected to be presided over by
Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaledazia.
The ambassador said this air corridor is expected to be a
bright prospect for this region and especially for Thailand and Bangladesh
relations for joint business, tourism, and investment opportunities.
According to their ambassador, Bangladesh has charming
waterfalls and rivers, sight seeing, tea gardens and nurseries, shrines and
tombs, the shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal, Surma Bridge, picnic spots,
bungalows, hotels, motels, archaeological sites, temples, forts, handicraft
products, tours and tourist facilities. Tourist information centers are
available and would help draw visitors and tourists, he said. Bangladesh is
also well known for its leather fashions. It is also known for fish, perch,
catfish, river shad, carp and pomfret.
On the investment side, its Board of Investment, through the Prime
Minister’s Office, has issued a guide to opportunities. Bangladesh has
incentive packages for investors by way of repatriation of profit and tax
relief. The government has also been pursuing rapid liberalization policy in
all economic sectors and redesigned its role from controlling and regulating
to promoting and facilitating the investors.
Figures show more tourists arrivals in Thailand
Tourism Minister Sonthaya Khunpluem recently announced
that tourist arrivals for this time of year were up by 16 percent. He said
that this increase indicated that some holidaymakers may have changed their
plans and chose Thailand out of safety concerns after the recent bomb attack
Although the Thai Hotels Association reported mass hotel
cancellations shortly after travel warnings to South East Asia were issued
by various countries, the majority of hotels in the country say they have
felt little impact.
Sonthaya said the Tourism and Sports Ministry has set up
a tourist cooperation center which will serve as the major source of
information on tourism to deal with concerns stemming from warnings by
governments to their citizens regarding travel in Thailand.
To deal with the negative reports about touring in this
region, the TAT has allocated 50 million baht to public relations activities
overseas in an effort to reinforce the country’s positive image.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) hopes that major
events such as the New Year festival will attract visitors to the kingdom.
TAT has forecast that tourist arrivals will increase 6
percent to 10.5 million this year. Despite the slowdown in the airline
industry after the Sept. 11 attacks in the USA last year, tourist arrivals
to Thailand grew by nearly 6 percent to 10.03 million. (TNA)
Discount carrier Virgin Blue to make Bali flights priority in expansion plans
Budget carrier Virgin Blue will make the troubled holiday
island of Bali a priority destination when it begins a major expansion from
Australian domestic routes into international services soon, Virgin boss
Richard Branson said recently.
Branson said he wanted the carrier, which has carved out
a strong niche in Australia’s budget air travel market since it started
two years ago, to help restore the Indonesian island’s shattered tourist
industry following last month’s bomb attack.
“I think it is very sad to see that it is now empty of
tourists and yet it is just as likely that a bomber could strike anywhere in
the world,” Branson told Sky News.
Just a four-hour flight from some Australian cities, Bali
has been a popular holiday destination with Australians for almost three
But the tropical island’s tourism industry has withered
since a car bomb tore through a nightclub packed with foreign tourists on
Oct. 12. Almost 90 Australians died in the attack, which killed more than
Branson also said that after only two years of operation,
Virgin Blue’s revenues could top 100 million Australian dollars (US$56
million) this year. He said the discount carrier would soon place an order
for up to 40 new jets over the long term.
“There is still an awful long way to grow, not just
internally within Australia, but we have pinpointed about 18 overseas
destinations where airfares are very high where we can go as well,” he
Branson’s comments come after the carrier last week won
a month long struggle to increase its access to landing slots at Sydney
Airport, positioning it for further expansion.
Branson said the airline would “most likely” announce
an order for 30 to 40 new jets in the next four to five weeks and increase
its push to gain a larger share of travelers from Australian flag carrier
Qantas, which commands about 80 percent of the domestic market.
Branson said he would also lodge a challenge with
Australia’s antitrust watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission, against a joint-services agreement between Qantas and British
Under the agreement, the two airlines work out schedules,
agree on fares, and share passengers and profits on the lucrative
Australia-London route, which includes services to Asia and Europe.
“We are certainly putting in a submission to the
commission authority to say that in the interests of the consumer and of
competition they should be competing, not colluding,” Branson said.
Thailand wins vote to hold 2006 Skål world congress
124 for Thailand against 71 for London
At the Skål world congress held in Cairns,
Australia, a vote was taken as to where the 2006 congress should be held -
Thailand or London. The Chiangmai Mail is very pleased to report that the
bid put forward to host the 2006 world congress by the Thailand Skål
team was successful. As the results of the vote were read out, spontaneous
applause rang through the crowded Cairns Convention Centre and the Thailand
members were congratulated on their fine performance in promoting Thailand
as the venue.
Skål team in Cairns lets out a cheer when the results are announced.
Since the Skål delegates from around the world
represent the ‘movers and shakers’ in the tourism industry, this is
indeed a great coup for Thailand to be able to showcase its attractions for
this group in 2006. While many may say, “It’s four years away,” we
will need all of that time to prepare and present the Skål delegates
of the world with the finest promotional programme that we can offer.
The opportunities for increased tourist numbers to every
tourist city will benefit everyone. The Chiangmai Mail salutes
“our” Skål team led by national councillor Malai Sakolviphak;
president of Bangkok Skål Brian Sinclair-Thompson; president of Skål
Pattaya and the East, Murray Hertz; vice-president of Skål Pattaya and
the East and GM of the Chiangmai Mail Peter Malhotra, secretary and
GM of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Andrew Wood, and Skål members Bob
Lee and Eric Hallin, Phuket. Congratulations on a job well done - and the
next item on the agenda is the job coming up for 2006!
TNT launches new express direct China/Europe airfreight service
TNT Express, the world’s leading business-to-business
express carrier will provide direct and quicker turnaround deliveries for
cargo between Europe and China, and synergizes the two economies via a
dedicated, purpose-built freight airport in Liege, Belgium.
The new partnership based upon a code-share agreement
between TNT Airways and China Southern Airlines, China’s largest airline,
will bring together industry leading, expertise from these major airfreight
players and leverage TNT’s comprehensive air and road network in Europe.
Under the strategic alliance, a B747 aircraft under
wet-lease from Atlas Air will fly twice weekly form the TNT Express European
hub in Liege, Belgium, to Shenzhen and Shanghai. This arrangement ensures
quicker turn-around times; faster custom clearances and transfer of goods
form the 100-metric ton freighter to TNT’s dedicated European air and road
network. Plans are underway to increase the loop service to four rotations a
week by 1st quarter 2003.
Christian Drenthen, TNT airways chief Executive Officer,
said, “TNT Airways is pleased to announce this new extension to our
already unsurpassed air and read network in Europe. We will continue to
progressively enhance our service offerings for all our customers, in the
areas of speed, flexibility and outreach across the world.” A wet-lease
arrangement includes hire of aircraft and crewmembers.
“TNT is especially proud that this new partnership will
facilitate our clients’ business growth in the world markets of Europe and
China, and particularly now in China, which is indisputably the world’s
newest and fastest growing economy. The new enhanced connectivity will
further facilitate two-way services and support for our joint European and
Chinese customers. And ensure greater control over their shipments within
definite and quicker delivery times,” Drenthen added.
Of the new partnership, Wong Chang Shun, President, China
Southern Airlines, said, “China Southern is dedicated to achieving close
cooperation with our business partners around the world. We are proud to be
part of this win-win relationship with the world’s leading carriers. In
partnering TNT Airways, we are confident that together, we will provide more
superior services to our customers and facilitate grater access to the
The partnership will also provide TNT customers with
extensive access to China as China Southern operates more than 385 routes
and has 5 subsidiary airlines in Hainan, Henan, Hubei, and Shenzhen.
TNT’s extensive air network capabilities, excluding its
new link to China, already operates in 55 airports across the UK,
Scandinavia, Germany, Eastern Europe, Switzerland, Italy, France,
Spain/Portugal, Denmark, Belgium and more. TNT’s extensive European road
network connects over 31 countries including Demark Germany, Turkey,
Luxembourg and Ireland.