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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

THAI taps Laos

Thailand-ADB to jointly help develop Mekong Sub-region

Deposit rates pushed up by sharp fall in bank liquidity, says BOT

Thailand-Myanmar clinch hydropower deal

TAT introducing the Standard Thai Hotel Program to achieve international standards

Overall economy to pick up after PM’s decision to step down

PM’s decision to step aside will help boost Thai stock market

THAI taps Laos

Thai Airways International (THAI) and Lao Aviation (OV) have signed a memorandum of understanding in an attempt to boost business and tourism between the neighbors.
The move is also designed to attract Lao expatriates living abroad. The agreement initially involves a double-prefix cooperation on the Bangkok-Vientiane route, before being developed into a full code-share Cupertino on the Bangkok-Vientiane and Luang Prabang-Chiang Mai routes for the winter schedule.
The airlines are also considering operating flights as domestic connections rather than international connections to reduce airport taxes and fees. THAI currently operates one daily flight between Bangkok and Vientiane on a 248-seat A300-600 aircraft, but plans to increase its frequency to two daily flights. OV uses a 70-seat ATR for its daily Vientiane-Bangkok flight. (TTG Asia)


Thailand-ADB to jointly help develop Mekong Sub-region

Thailand and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have agreed to cooperate in developing countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), according to Naris Chaiyasoot, director-general of the Ministry of Finance’s Fiscal Policy Office (FPO).
The agreement was made during a meeting of both parties earlier last week, Naris told journalists, adding that the accord would help develop the economy and social activities in Thailand and other GMS’s member countries on a sustainable basis.
The mutual assistance would cover various fields, including eradication in trade and investment problems among the countries, and environment and disease control, he added.
The GMS includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China’s southern province of Yunnan.
All six countries share the Mekong River, recognized as a lifeline of Southeast Asia. (TNA)


Deposit rates pushed up by sharp fall in bank liquidity, says BOT

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) said last Tuesday that there had been a marked decline in liquidity in the banking system, citing as evidence, stiff commercial bank competition for depositors’ funds.
However, BOT Governor M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula said he believes the major banks’ move to offer more attractive deposit rates would not affect the performance of smaller banks, which seem to be able to adapt to the more competitive environment.
The governor also commented on the possible economic impact of the latest political developments, saying that regardless of whether Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra stepped aside or not, the country’s exports would continue to expand. Export growth in February was approximately 23.3 percent. However, he did say Thaksin’s decision to step down would bring about national reconciliation, which could restore investor confidence.
The BOT chief added that he could not yet assess the overall economic direction as he had not seen the latest economic figures. (TNA)


Thailand-Myanmar clinch hydropower deal

Thailand and Myanmar have agreed to jointly build a US$6 billion hydropower plant on Myanmar’s Salween River in the southern part of Shan state.
The bilateral agreement on the establishment of a joint venture for the project was signed between the Myanmar Ministry of Electric Power and Thailand’s MDX conglomerate in Yangon this week.
The 7,110-MW Ta Sang Hydropower Plant, the biggest one in Myanmar, is set to be completed over the next 15 years. Electricity generated from the plant will be mainly sold to Thailand. (TNA)


TAT introducing the Standard Thai Hotel Program to achieve international standards

Staff Reporters
Chanin Thonawanik, committee chairman of Thailand Hotel Standard Foundation, invited hotel owners to apply for Hotel Standard Certification 2006 in order to improve Thai hotel standards to be equal to universal standards, and to promote certified hotels for Thai and foreign tourists.
Hotel owners or hotel entrepreneurs who are interested can submit their application form for this program from now on. For more information, contact Thailand Hotel Standard Foundation and personnel at the service and tourism industry, 203-209/3 Rajadamnern Klang Bor Worn Niwet, Bangkok 10200 Tel. 0-2281-9496 Fax. 0-2281-4188. This program is sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Thailand Hotel Standard Foundation is an organization for cooperation between the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Thai Hotels Association (THA), and Association of Thai Travel Agents.


Overall economy to pick up after PM’s decision to step down

Thailand’s overall economy is set to pick up following caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s decision to step down from office, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
FTI Vice Chairman Santi Vilassakdanont said that the premier’s announcement made all parties feel relieved, and following that, anti-Thaksin demonstrators should disperse.
Thaksin’s move served as a solution to all conflicts that would enable the government to go ahead with its economic policies and an acceleration of the constitutional amendment, he projected.
He said he was confident investment in the industrial sector would regain momentum after a slowdown due to political woes.
He suggested the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) take this opportunity to attract foreign investors without any delay.
Santi believes that the private sector still wants the new government to forge ahead with the implementation of mega-projects such as the extension of electric train sections.
He stated that the new premier should be a person with a lot of experience in economic affairs, and one who is able to form a competent economic team to help him manage the country’s economy. (TNA)


PM’s decision to step aside will help boost Thai stock market

Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinwatra’s decision not to accept the premiership in the new government will lead to an end of all political conflicts and have a positive effect on the stock market, according to a veteran stock analyst.
Kongkiarte Opaswongkarn, president of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations, said that Thaksin’s decision last Tuesday evening showed his sacrifice for the sake of the country and he believes that all conflicting parties will now turn to each other to solve national problems.
He believes that the announcement of Thaksin to step down is a proper one, especially since the ruling Thai-Rak-Thai (TRT) Party still enjoys the support of 16 million votes from the April 2 general election, and could form the new government. More importantly, it could forge ahead with its economic policies on a continual basis, he noted.
Dr. Kongkiarte said he wants to call on all parties to participate in the constitutional amendment process to ensure no more problems arise, and the country’s administration would be smooth.
He said that Thailand can readily recover from any economic damages caused by the political standoff since impact from the political disturbances were not severe.
He conceded that the Thaksin administration had proven its ability to boost the country’s competitiveness and had a strong point in trade and business. He, therefore, wants the new government to pursue the existing policies. He projects that the improved political climate would help boost stock investment in terms of volume and value. (TNA)