Rice exports up
Thailand’s rice exports in 2002 reached about 7.2
million tons, beating the government’s target. The figures were slightly
below last year’s record because the country lost some market share to
India, but Nigeria is expected to continue to be Thailand’s top rice
Somboon Pathaichant, manager at the Thai Rice
Exporters’ Association, said, “Thailand’s rice exports for the year
2002 are lower than in 2001 due to fierce competition from other exporters,
In the early part of 2002 the Thai government forecast
the nation’s rice exports at 7 million tons. The figure was down slightly
from 7.5 million tons the year before. India emerged as a major
international rice supplier last year and overtook Vietnam as the world’s
number-two rice exporter.
Exporters say the top five buyers of Thai rice in 2002
were Nigeria, Indonesia, Senegal, Iran and South Africa.
EGAT resists privatization
EAGT disagrees with the government’s plans to proceed
with the privatization of the state-owned Electricity Generating Authority
of Thailand (EGAT). EGAT’s governor views the plan as a threat to the
success of the multilateral Asia Grid Project.
EGAT Governor Sithiporn Rattanophas recently told Energy
Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana that the Asia Grid Project involves
investments from 8 countries in a number of power-generation projects,
including the construction of the US$6 billion Salween Dam along the
Thailand-Burma border. He said this means it is vital to retain EGAT as a
state-owned entity because of its assets.
EGAT’s enviable assets can be used to obtain funds from
international investors and lenders such as the World Bank. But EGAT would
lose its attraction if it were broken up into smaller entities as is part of
the privatization scheme.
Other countries involved in the Asian Grid project
include China, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia. Power
generated from the Asia Grid project would be sold to these countries to
meet future energy needs.
During the year 2002, electricity needs among the 8
countries were estimated at 50,000 megawatts.
A study indicates that this demand will increase to
100,000 megawatts by 2010, thus requiring more power-sector investments.
EGAT feels it is in the best position among the ASEAN group to lead in these
PTT petrol stations will sell Thai fruit wine and liquors
In an effort to link up with the nationwide One Village,
One Product scheme, Thailand’s largest gas and oil firm PTT has joined
with a group of distillers of traditional liquor and fruit wines by offering
to market their products in its gas stations.
PTT expects to set up 30 booths at various PTT service
stations for selling the One Village, One Product merchandise by the end of
At present here are about 1,000 producers of local
liquors and fruit wine. Nationwide marketing and promotion of Thai wines
could help reduce the annual 60 billion baht locals spend on imported wine
PTT’s vice-president Apisit Rujikiatkamjorn said that
the company has already started transforming four of its service stations in
Chonburi, Chacheongsao, Bangkok, and Saraburi into prototype shops. Other
products on sale at PTT’s service stations will include handicrafts, and
Chaiyuth Visuthjitjai, representative of the local group
of distillers, said the group has already asked the Department of Export
Promotion to help market the local products and has asked Thai Airways
International to include Thai liquor and wines on its in-flight shopping
The group also wants government assistance in research,
development, and marketing. This would add value to the products and help to
open markets overseas. (TNA)
Leading banker warns of widening gap between rich and poor
Bantoon Lamsum, president of Thai Farmers Bank Plc. said
he has learned from a recent discussion with the Bank of Thailand (BOT) that
the country’s international reserve has now increased to US$38 billion and
this bodes well for the economy. But many people still face economic
hardship while certain groups of people are extremely wealthy. He said this
huge gap between the rich and the poor needs to be solved urgently.
Bantoon agreed that government and private companies must
join forces to boost the economy, but should also try to prevent the
repetition of a bubble economy.
Bantoon said the BOT continues to accelerate lending and
expects a growth rate of 2% for the year 2003.
The bank is also stressing the importance of risk
management. “Lending without paying attention to risk management will
aggravate the public debt problem as could be witnessed in the past,”
He said the non-performing loan problem has slightly
improved, but not significantly because the economic recovery has not been
felt in all sectors. Debt-restructuring needs to be done with regard to
financial discipline. He projected interest rates will continue to stay low
because liquidity in the banking system remains high. (TNA)