HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Bank of Thailand (BOT) reports Northern economic slow down

Thailand to seek tax reduction on fruits exported to China

Only three energy saving measures proposed to Cabinet

Thailand to benefit from Asian highway network

BOT to issue new 1,000 baht note

Bank of Thailand (BOT) reports Northern economic slow down

Nopniwat Krailerg

A BOT report confirms that private sector investment and export growth rate have slowed. The service industry is showing dropping trends even though recently both Thai and foreign tourists have changed their destinations to the North from the South of the country, due to the unrest there. Another result blamed upon the rising oil prices is the reduced hotel occupancy rates from 45 percent to 40 percent. Room prices average out at 870 baht per room which is similar to last yearís prices.

Even the registration of automobiles has fallen by around 9 percent over the same period last year which includes both saloon cars and pick-ups.

On the right side of the ledger, exports through Northern customs points increased by almost 14 percent over 2004 with a 203 million USD export value, of which 141.3 million USD passed through the Northern Industrial Region Customs point, being mainly electronic goods. The total value of electric circuit breakers passing through Chiang Mai airport increased by 24 percent to 16.4 million USD.

Consumer goods exports to Laos tripled through fuel exports. Exports to Southern China doubled to 6.9 million USD mainly on agricultural exports, rubber sheets and strips, but towards the end of the month China reduced orders on rubber due to price rises.

Imports increased over 2004 by 7.5 percent to 127 million USD, 118.4 million USD imports passed through the Northern Industrial region Customs point, 6.4 million at border checkpoints. This gave Thailand a trade surplus of 76 million USD an increase over the same period last year of 25.6 percent.

Thailand to seek tax reduction on fruits exported to China

Thailand will open discussion with China to find ways for a tax reduction on Thai fruits to China.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan said the current rate, which was raised from US$ 0.6 to US$ 1.20 - 1.80 per basket, has caused an increase in the cost of Thai fruits on the Chinese market.

The minister said there is a high demand for Thai fruits in Guangdong province. More than 100 containers of Thai fruits are exported daily to the Chinese market in that province, and it is hoped the higher tax wonít discourage this.

The ministry has assigned the Marketing Organization for Farmers to deal with planned direct sales with more major markets in China.

Meanwhile, it has maintained its quality control to ensure the standard of Thai produce. All exported products have to be certified by an international standardized system - GAP (Good Agricultural Practices). (TNA)

Only three energy saving measures proposed to Cabinet

The Ministry of Energy proposed only three energy conservation measures to the cabinet for a final approval, according to a senior Energy Ministry official.

The three measures, proposed before the cabinet at its weekly meeting last Tuesday, included shortening service hours at petrol stations, switching off neon billboards and providing certain parking lots for taxis at shopping centres, bus terminals and train stations to reduce their empty-trips, said the permanent secretary for energy, Cherdpong Siriwit.

"The shorter service hours of petrol stations, from being closed from midnight to 5 a.m. to closing them from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., will help reduce fuel use by 5 percent. However, petrol stations on main highways will still be allowed to open until midnight to facilitate commercial trucks running across provinces," he told journalists.

"Switching off neon billboards at 9 p.m. and providing certain parking spaces for taxis at shopping malls and transport terminals to reduce fuel waste from their empty-trips are also believed to help save a lot of energy," he added.

Cherdpong confirmed that other proposed measures, including announcing every Monday as an additional weekly holiday, while extending office hours on Tuesdays to Fridays by two more hours, as well as imposing more excise duties on vehicles with engines larger than 1800 CC and stopping TV broadcasts at midnight, were not tabled before the cabinet on July 11.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Energy talked of submitting a wider package of 12 energy conservation measures before the cabinet, including the change of working hours and days, the increase in excise tax levied on the larger vehicles and the shorter TV service hours.

"We proposed only the three measures, out of 12 earlier worked out jointly by the Ministries of Energy and Finance, as we donít want the energy saving drive to affect employment in the business sector and the overall Thai economic prospects," said the senior energy ministry official. (TNA)

Thailand to benefit from Asian highway network

Thailand will benefit from a regional road-link project, called the Asian Highway Network, covering 32 Asian countries.

The project, when completed, will help boost trade, investment and tourism between Thailand and several other countries in the region, according to analysts.

Thailand and other 31 countries in the region signed an agreement on the joint development of the Asian Highway Network in Chinaís Shanghai city in April last year.

The inter-governmental deal for the 141,000 km land transport project, linking Asia with Europe, has been effective since July 4.

The construction of the regional road-link in the respective countries can now begin. (TNA)

BOT to issue new 1,000 baht note

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) plans to issue a new 1,000 baht banknote later this year.

The new 1,000 baht note, embedded with a hologram, will be issued in November, aimed mainly at addressing the problem of note forgeries, according to the managing director of BOTís Note Printing Works, Nopporn Pramojaney.

"Most fake notes have been found in border provinces. Most of them were 500 and 100 notes in the past. The issuance of the banknotes with a hologram has helped address the problem," he said.

"Forgers have recently produced and distributed more fake 1,000 baht notes. The central bank will, therefore, issue the new 1,000 baht note with a hologram to solve the same problem," he added.

A hologram is a unique photographic printing that provides a three-dimensional effect on a flat surface.

Holograms cannot be easily copied and are used for security and aesthetic purposes on banknotes or cards.

The proportion of banknote forgeries in Thailand is only 0.1 : 1,000,000 notes, far less than the 60-70 : 1,000,000 notes in the United States and Europe, according to Nopporn. (TNA)