HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Ministry of Industry looking for closer ties in the 17 northern provinces

Chiang Rai trading well with its neighbours

Law training for non-lawyers

BOT still predicting economic growth

Ministry of Industry looking for closer ties in the 17 northern provinces

BoI behind the plan

Phitsanu Thepthong

Minister of Industry Pinit Charusombat chaired a meeting to discuss how to bring good cooperation for the development strategy of 17 Northern provinces particularly for investment project promotion.

Secretary-General Sompong (left) and Minister Pinit (right) at the meeting at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel Chiang Mai.

This cooperation was very important, as it could help stimulate the North to create up to 50,000 new entrepreneurs, said the minister at the press conference held at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel in Chiang Mai.

Sompong Wanapha, the secretary-general of Board of Investment (BoI), added that they need to map out the northern strategy, to have the same direction, mission and vision.

He said that investment last year was around 300 billion baht, but more than 90 percent of this was in the central and Eastern Seaboard regions. Only three percent came to the north, he said. This was despite the low cost of investment, an area rich in raw materials, and an easily available workforce. Participants included officials from the Ministry of Industry, provincial chambers of commerce, provincial federations of Thai industries, research institutes, universities, private sectors, financial institutes, and SME development institutes.

Secretary-General Sompong added that more links with Burma, which is rich in furniture, wood, jewelry, and tourism, are expected as well as with Vietnam which is abundant in agro industry, cold storage, seafood, mining and tourism sectors.

Minister Pinit noted that for tourism promotion, many 5 star hotels need to cope with the increasing demands in the market, adding that as many 10 private investors have asked for BoI promoted hotel projects, including spa services in Chiang Mai.

From now on, it is likely that the new investment projects in the North will be such as the IT City, software development and production, while the old industry investments, like agricultural food processing, handicrafts, ceramics, textiles, machineries, agricultural products, packaging, and other creative industries including souvenirs and gifts will slow.

Minister Pinit said that these industrial and investment projects in the North must be developed for the export market, as our country’s target.

Chiang Rai trading well with its neighbours

Figures show 61 percent with China

Chiang Rai’s trade performances with neighboring countries last year were well up, according to Mrs Sirinart Sennan, the head of Chiang Rai provincial Commercial Office.

She said that the free trade agreement between Thailand and China having become effective from October 1 last year could result in border trade expansion for both countries in terms of the export and import practices.

The trade volume for three months from October-December 2003 alone was worth a record total of 1.6 billion baht, (of which 1 billion baht was from exports). She said that this figure up by 33 percent compared to the same period one year ago.

The main products under this Free Trade Area (FTA) agreement were mostly vegetable and fruit exported through Chiang Rai province’ border checkpoint to China worth 657 million baht which was higher than the import figure from China which was totally 438 million baht.

Sirinart said that that Chiang Rai’s border trade records for 2003 was in total 6.8 billion baht, up almost 30 percent in trading with neighboring countries Southern China, Burma and Laos.

Chiang Rai’s trade hit a record high with Southern China worth 4.2 billion baht from 3.2 billion baht previously. This figure represented 61 percent of the total Chiang Mai trading.

Trading with Burma also increased in the same period accounting for 27 percent of the local trading. However, Chiang Rai’s trade with Laos was only 800 million baht and when compared to the same period last year, which was worth almost 1 billion baht, this was a significant 18 percent drop.

Law training for non-lawyers

‘Philadelphia lawyers’ to be trained here?

Phitsanu Thepthong

According to the lecturer Kietisak Phantawong, director of the International Legal Counselor Office (ICO) and a member of the Human Rights Committee, Region 5, and on the Expertise Committee of the Law Society Region 5, the office is in Tambon Sanphranet, Muang Chiang Mai district.

Kietisak Phantawong, director of the International Legal Counselor Office.

He told Chiangmai Mail that training courses on knowledge of the law are also organized for the public, and it is found that most of the participants are young students from the Mathayomsuksa 4-5 secondary school who are interested in law.

The Law Society, Region 5, has also prepared more training courses on civil and commercial law. The topics will include loans, quarantine, pawning, leasing, land and property, heritage, criminal law, arrest, charge, search, bail, and a question and answer session.

The courses will be also for kamnan, village headmen, women’s development groups, and community leaders, based on the fundamental law handbook.

In addition, Kietisak said that the working teams are aiming to help disadvantaged people from both Thai and foreign communities.

He said that in the past they had staged training courses for youths to give them awareness and concern about protection of the environment and the uses of natural resources.

This project has been initiated by the attorney council in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Trang, the Attorney Club of Trang, and the Rotary Cub of Chorsritrang.

Thais and foreigners who feel they have not received justice could consult the ICO lawyers free of charge. For more information, please contact 053 351 414 or email [email protected], or visit the website

BOT still predicting economic growth

Despite bird flu, decreased tourism and lower exports

The Bank of Thailand (BoT), Northern Region Office, predicts that this year’s economic growth is still good and is likely to expand. According to Somsak Wongpanyathaworn, senior director of the office here, last year’s economic growth has continued to expand into this year.

He said this is being supported by four factors, including an increase in farmers’ incomes, consumption volumes, investment projects and exports.

It is also forecasted that the 2004 economy will continue its growth in general, except for the tourism sector which seems to be slowing, but this is interpreted as being impacted by the spreading bird flu and its crisis.

This year, the bird flu epidemic in the northern provinces is presumed to be having a marked affect on the northern economy. However, he said that chicken farms represent only 0.7-1 percent of the North’s GDP, so the bird flu is of little effect.

In the vegetable and fruit trading with China, Thai exports to China were reduced in volumes. For Thailand and China’s bilateral trade, he noted that during the past four months, export volumes for Thai fruits and vegetable to China was reduced by 3.6 percent, while, the imports of goods and products from China were increased. Most of Thai products from the Northern Thailand were mostly the dried lamyai or longan, while imported Chinese products were deciduous fruits like plum, apple, pear, and persimmon.

He said that the economic growth trends of last year should continue, following the country’s low bank interest rates, and the increased confidence among consumers, and businessmen.

“These factors have helped boost public consumption and investment projects and when Chiang Mai becomes the aviation hub in the Greater Mekong Sub-region this is another positive factor.”

With the much vaunted 6 percent growth of 2003 predicted to be 8 percent this year, this is however difficult to accept when looking at the decreased exports versus increased imports, decreased tourism, currently ascribed to the bird flu epidemic, and shortly to be further decreased when Thailand turns into the Cinderella country that closes at midnight, and the falsely inflated consumerism which is debt driven. The next three months economic indicators will be interesting.