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ASEAN Finance Ministers to meet in Chiang Mai

Exports still strong despite stronger baht

Economy-domestic focus needed

ASEAN Finance Ministers to meet in Chiang Mai

The Finance Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) will meet in Chiang Mai province on April 4-5 according to the Fiscal Policy Office deputy director-general, Ms. Jularat Suthithon.

The Finance Ministers from 10 ASEAN countries will discuss regional financial cooperation and the development of Asian Economic Community (AEC). The AEC will have a similar layout as the European Community, or presently known as the European Union (EU). The Asian Economic Community is expected to be established by 2015, instead of 2020 as previously planned.

Ms. Jularat says the meeting will touch on four topics. They include the development of a joint capital market, financial management, the inspection of financial transactions, and the currency exchange rate between ASEAN countries. The meeting will also discuss the financial inflows and outflows as financial fluctuations have affected many countries and the abolishment of double-taxation between ASEAN nations in order to facilitate investments. (TNA)

Exports still strong despite stronger baht

Thailand’s exports in January exceeded US$10 billion with a trade surplus of US$880 million despite impacts of the stronger baht, according to Commerce Minister Krirkkrai Jirapaet.

Announcing the latest export figures for January, he said although the baht continued to appreciate, the export value increased by 17.7 per cent from that of the same month last year to $10.49 billion.

At the same time, the imports totaled US$9.61 billion in value, up 2.4 per cent from the same month the year before. This resulted in a trade surplus of US$880 million against a deficit of $468 million in the same month of the previous year.

“Although the baht continues to strengthen, operators in all industrial groups reaffirm the exports this year would grow close to 12.5 per cent as earlier targeted by the Commerce Ministry with a total value of $145 billion,” he said.

The minister conceded the stronger baht and its impacts were raised for discussion at last weeks meeting of the committee tasked to drive the overall economy.

Also discussed was a possibility to allocate some of the US$60 billion of international reserves to invest overseas.

Given the strengthening of the baht now, he said, it is appropriate for Thai entrepreneurs to shift their investment base into oversea markets. (TNA)

Economy-domestic focus needed

The committee tasked to drive Thailand’s overall economy sees a need to give greater attention to Thailand’s domestic economic sector, specifically the non-export-oriented sectors, and accelerate building confidence among consumers and investors in an effort to solve the country’s economic woes.

Commerce Minister Krirkkrai Jirapaet said the committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister Kosit Panpiemras agreed after discussion that the current economic basis remains sound.

But to reduce overdependence on exports to drive the economy, the committee believes the government should focus more on the domestic economic sector in managing the economy. At the same time, it should encourage entrepreneurs with large dollar portfolios to expand their investment into businesses with high returns in foreign countries where labor costs are low.

Such a policy, if successfully implemented, would help ease the overly strong baht.

In addition, the government must step up efforts to build confidence among consumers and investors in spending and investment to drive money circulation in the economic system.

Mr. Kosit said the committee had received various economic data and was likely to conclude a plan to resolve the economic challenges within months. (TNA)