HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thailand to slash import tax for neighboring countries

MOF pours money into investment data center

Property business still promising

China imports jump over 20% from January through August

Thailand to slash import tax for neighboring countries

Commerce Minister Adisai Bodharamik recently announced that Thailand is poised to slash import taxes on agricultural goods and raw materials from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in a bid to stimulate trade and investment.

Speaking after a meeting among government ministers of the four nations to determine a unified approach to sub-regional trade, Adisai said that the import tax reductions would see tariffs cut to 0-5 percent.

The new measures will see the number of Cambodian import items subject to the reduced tariffs rise from 48 to 249, while the number from Laos will rise from 26 to 150 and the number from Myanmar from 72 to between 300 and 400. Import quotas for the three countries will also be increased, subject to cabinet approval at the end of this year.

It was proposed that the private sectors of all four countries cooperate in the establishment of a business council, while each nation will be encouraged to set up export industrial estates. These initiatives will be presented to the leaders of the four nations during a sub-regional leadership meeting on 11-12 November in the Myanmar capital of Rangoon. (TNA)

MOF pours money into investment data center

The Ministry of Finance will pour over 20 million baht into the development of web-based investment data sites to offer advice and information to foreign investors. Anukul Taemprasert, head of the Thailand Outlook Investment Data Centre program, said that the scheme was particularly targeted at providing information to institutional investors.

The program, run by the Office of Fiscal Economics, will focus on the creation of a data base, investment product research and development, and the development of an information system to disseminate information on investment to businesspeople across the world.

As part of the program, which began around three months ago, investors are able to log on to www.thai

The ministry used an initial budget of 20 million baht to establish the system, which is now being developed using more appropriate technology. The project forms part of the government’s overall aim of using information technology as a tool to access investment information. (TNA)

Property business still promising

Prospects of the local property business have continued to be promising given the improved performance of listed property firms and higher demand in the market, according to leading asset management companies.

Ruengvit Nantapiwat, President of Ayuthaya JF Asset Management Co, said the firm had planned to set up the property fund next year to provide investors with an alternative investment channel. Its maturity would not be fixed like other property funds, he noted.

The company projected the property market would continue to grow along with the improvement in operating results of listed companies in the property section, since many developers are launching new projects, particularly condominiums in urban areas, which are of great demand.

Vivan Tarahirunchoti, President of One Asset Management Co, said the property fund was a new choice for investors who want to invest through mutual funds. Holders of unit trusts of the fund will receive returns in form of dividends and capital gains from investment in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), she stated.

Pongrat Rattanatavananond, manager of Kiatnakin Securities’ Stock Analysis Division, said more investors had turned to speculate on property stocks since they believed performance results of property firms would improve in the third quarter given lower deposit and lending rates. (TNA)

China imports jump over 20% from January through August

Thailand’s imports of products in the first eight months of this year reached over 2.03 trillion baht, most of which were shipments from China, accounting for 20.3% of the total imports, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Pisanu Rienmahasarn, Director of the Ministry of Commerce’s Office of the Committee on Import Policy Management, said the country’s imports of goods in the January-August period increased 12% from the same period of last year, with shipments of raw materials and semi-processed goods topping the list, or rising 16.3%, followed by 15.0%, 11.3%, and 7.5% increase of fuel, consumers’ goods, and capital goods shipments respectively.

Major sources of imports during the period included China, Japan, the United States, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with imports from China topping the list of f the total imports followed by those from Japan.

Pisanu said, however, that only an appropriate level of imports would meet the country’s economic equilibrium, cautioning that rapidly increase in imports, particularly raw materials and consumers’ goods, would affect the equilibrium.

“Locally-produced products are of the same quality of imported ones; so producers and manufacturers should also support local raw materials, and should join forces in the form of partnership to expand their supply bases and to boost the strength of Thai industries”, suggested the senior Commerce Ministry official. (TNA)