Inflation rises slightly
Latest figures show the country’s inflation rate in
April was 0.4 percentage points higher than in March and 1.6 percentage
points higher than it was in a year ago on April of 2002 due to rising
domestic consumption which increased prices of food and beverages.
The Commerce Ministry’s permanent secretary Karun
Kittisataporn said this will be only a short-term concern and that the
country’s inflation rate for this year would be about 1.5-2.0 percent as
Karun said, "The present inflation rate confirms
that Thailand is unlikely to encounter deflationary pressure as
The ministry conducted a survey of 326 items of goods and
services in order to determine the consumer price index in April. The
country’s average inflation rate during the first four months of this year
was 1.8 percent over the same period last year.
Consumer products costing more in April were jasmine
rice, fresh chicken, vegetables and fruits, while those that cost less
included gasoline, both diesel and benzene, and residential rents.
The non-food products’ consumer price index stood at
104.4 in April, the same rate as that of March, but was 0.2 percentage
points higher than the same month of last year. (TNA)
Report by World Bank
projects Thailand’s GDP growth to slow to 4.5% in 2003
An report put out by the World Bank said it expects
Thailand’s gross domestic product growth to slow to 4.5% this year
compared with 5.2% last year, due to the impact the SARS epidemic is having
on the country’s and East Asia’s trade and tourism.
The report stated that there is increasing confirmation
that tourism, which contributes to 6% of Thailand’s GDP, has been dealt a
serious blow by SARS and the impact could have lasting effects well into the
Figures also show that Thailand’s booming exports were
slowing down. During the first quarter of this year exports showed a 20
percent year-on-year growth but the month of April witnessed a slowdown.
"The high growth in exports and in export orders of
the first two months of 2003 is now replaced by much slower growth in March
which looks unlikely to recover until after the first half of 2003,"
the report said.
On a more positive note, increased private consumption is
expected to play a key role in increasing GDP growth. The manufacturing
sector grew by more than 8 percent.
Exports to China expanded 24 percent, highlighted by an
increase in manufactured goods, particularly those in the
technology-intensive category. (TNA)
Thailand to form global alliance to push
up sugar prices
Thailand recently organized the world’s first meeting
of sugar exporters in a bid to solve the problem of low sugar prices on the
Ruengsak Ngamsomphak, the secretary-general of the Sugar
and Sugarcane Board said the meeting marks a change of strategy on the part
of the government, which has previously only tried to shore up domestic
sugar and sugarcane prices, without garnering international support.
Thailand invited Brazil, Australia, South Africa and
Guatemala to the meeting held in Phuket, which brought together the world’s
five largest sugar exporters to form a global alliance.
As an initial measure, Thailand, Australia and Brazil
will join together to mount a complaint against the European Union with the
World Trade Organization. "The EU is breaking free trade
criteria," Ruengsak said.
EU subsidies have enabled its domestic farmers to dump 4
million tons of cheap sugar per year on world markets.
Brazil is currently the world’s largest sugar exporter,
producing 10 million tons per year, while Thailand falls in second place
with exports of 4.5 million tons. (TNA)
More palm oil production promoted for bio-diesel to reduce oil imports
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is preparing
to pour 2 billion baht into the promotion of oil palm cultivation over a
two-million rai area in hopes of spurring the production of bio-diesel.
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperative Minister Newin
Chidchob said that the ministry intends to introduce a new dimension to
agricultural production by focusing on health and safety concerns in
accordance with the government’s target of turning 2004 into a year of
food safety and agriculture for energy.
Under the new scheme the ministry will encourage farmers
to grow crops for the manufacture of bio-diesel, which would both reduce oil
imports and generate extra income and employment for the agricultural
Projects for 2004 will include the transformation of
around 700,000 rai of land into land suitable for oil palm cultivation, and
the use of high-performing strains.
The use of bio-diesel could save the public as much as 2
baht per liter on normal petrol prices, and ensure income security for palm
oil farmers. The Agricultural Engineering Division is currently studying the
use of farming equipment powered by bio-diesel in local communities. (TNA)
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