BUSINESS NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

2003 Motor Expo expected to boost car sales to record high

New incentives offered to lure oil trading giants

US sets crackdown on illegal CDs as condition for FTA

2003 Motor Expo expected to boost car sales to record high

Total sales of automobiles are very likely to break a record this year, given the industry’s recovery and continued economic growth, according to an industry executive.

Kwanchai Papaspong, Chairman of International Media, organizer of 2003 Motor Expo, said, “The auto industry had recovered along with the economic growth. With the rejuvenation, total sales of vehicles this year are projected to hit a record high.”

Kwanchai explained, “Before the economic crisis, total sales of vehicles reached a record high of 580,000 units in 1996. But for this year, sales are expected to be around 720,000 units. Of this, 520,000 units are predicted to be sold locally, and the remaining 200,000 will be exported.”

The 2003 Motor Expo will be held during 29 November 29-10 December at the Impact Exhibition Hall, Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi Province, with 35 automakers and importers expected to participate. It is projected that the exhibition will draw more than 1.6 million visitors, up from 1.5 million last year. (TNA)


New incentives offered to lure oil trading giants

Minister of Energy Prommin Lertsuridej revealed at least two major oil traders based in Southeast Asia have confirmed plans to move their operations to Thailand in the wake of the government’s new plans to make the country a regional oil trading hub in the next two years.

Esso subsidiary Exxon Mobil decided to move its regional base to Thailand after the Board of Investment (BOI) granted its permission.

The Thai government is also considering slashing corporate income taxes to 10 percent to be in line with that of Singapore in order to lure oil traders and exporters. Ministry spokesman Metta Banturngsuk said the new regulations allowing tax exemptions on raw materials, reduced rental fees and the current corporate tax cut could be in force within eight weeks. Other advantages for oil traders will be low production costs and rental fees.

Energy Minister Prommin added that Shell may to shift its operations base from the Philippines to Thailand, as may Singapore-based Caltex. (TNA)


US sets crackdown on illegal CDs as condition for FTA

Commerce Minister Adisai Bodharamik recently announced that the USA has warned Thailand that it must take serious action to crack down on illegal CDs if it wants to set up a joint Thai-US free trade area (FTA).

Speaking after meeting with Gary Edson, deputy assistant for international economic affairs to the US president, and Karen Brook, director of US Southeast Asian security operations, Adisai said that the US officials had questioned him on Thailand’s readiness to establish the joint FTA. In particular, the US officials had stressed the importance of legislation to protect intellectual property rights and the amendment of customs protocol.

Adisai said that he had explained that Thailand would sign agreements on both issues during the upcoming meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders in October. He noted that legislation on illegal CDs had already come in for a first Parliamentary reading, while the Ministry of Finance had already amended customs protocol in line with international standards.

Adisai brushed off allegations that Thailand was taking such measures simply to please the US, noting that Thailand was in the process of establishing FTA’s with several other countries, and that as a result it was necessary to amend regulations to smooth the way for increased trade. (TNA)