Kunming eases strict customs, taxes on Thai goods
The government of China’s Kunming city has eased its
strict customs procedures and value-added tax collections applied on
imported Thai products.
Speaking after visiting the city and meeting with senior officials of state
agencies there at the end of December, Thailand’s Deputy Permanent Secretary
for Commerce Pissanu Rienmahasarn said the local government of Kunming had
agreed to relax the customs rules on examination and quarantine of imported
products including vegetables, fruits and meat from Thailand.
In addition, it had reduced the value-added tax collections on various kinds
of Thai products shipped to Kunming for trans-shipment to other Chinese
Mr. Pissanu said the two sides would set up a sub-committee to determine a
common practical approach, which is expected to be declared in the next few
The relaxation of the rules is considered a significant achievement, he
said, adding that in the past Thai exporters of products to each province of
China had experienced both a strict examination and the quarantining of
Some produce, particularly fruits and vegetables, had been kept in
quarantine for such a long time that they spoiled, despite the fact that
Thailand and China had reached a free trade area agreement covering produce
Mr. Pissanu added that Thailand has a project to develop a Thai product
distribution centre in Kunming, where a 20-storey building for the centre is
already under construction.
The centre is expected to be a key place for distribution of Thai products
to Chinese consumers in Kunming and other provinces of China.
Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, is China’s gateway to Southeast Asia.
Currently, the Chinese government is promoting the city as an economic zone.
“More importantly,” according to Mr. Pissanu, “Kunming people are close to
Thai merchants and know Thai products well”.
“Consumers in the city have high purchasing power, making the city suitable
as a place where Thailand can distribute consumer products such as clothing,
leather and other OTOP goods,” he said. (TNA)
Power bills likely to edge up this year
Electricity bills are likely to edge up further this year due to surging oil
prices and lower water levels in hydro-power producing dams, according to Mr
Sombat Santijaree, Governor of the Electricity Generating Authority of
He said the surge in global oil prices to US$100 per barrel would not have
an immediate effect on Thailand’s power bills as the price of natural gas,
which accounts for 70 percent of fuel for power generation, had not
instantly risen in tandem with the oil prices.
However, Mr. Sombat conceded that a continued oil price rise would have an
impact on consumers’ electricity bills.
At the same time, water levels in Thailand’s hydro-power dams have fallen to
just 80 percent of their full capacity. This could result in decreased
generation of the country’s lowest cost hydro-power.
How much the power bills would be raised depended on the decision of the
sub-committee supervising the fuel tariff charge. EGAT is not in a position
to identify how much the FT will increase charges in the new round starting
from February to May.
Mr. Sombat said EGAT had attempted to manage power generation to ensure the
lowest cost by allowing power plants with low production costs to operate at
full capacity first. (TNA)
Debit card business
likely to grow considerably: KRC
Thailand’s debit card business is likely to continue its growth by as much
as 24 percent this year, but its popularity among the public remains
limited, according to the Kasikorn Research Center.
The leading think tank said the implementation of the marketing policy for
the debit card business in Thailand had gained momentum since early last
It forecast the number of debit cards this year would increase by 24 percent
to around 22.75 million from 18.35 million last year because of a successful
marketing campaign to expand the debit card customer base.
KRC viewed that spending through debit cards would continue to grow
satisfactorily if operators were able to adopt a similar suitable marketing
strategy to stimulate cardholder spending.
In addition, an interest rate increase for credit card loans to 20 percent
per annum might encourage customers to turn to spend more through debit
cards in the future.
It projected that spending through debit cards this year would increase by
19.7 percent to around Bt44.9 billion from Bt37.5 billion last year.
However, according to a survey carried out by KRC however, most consumers
did not want to change their ATM cards into debit cards nor use the debit
cards for payments. They still preferred to use credit cards for payments as
they could obtain more incentives than if they used debit cards. (TNA)
Thailand’s Election Result - good news for Tourism?
Andrew J. Wood
Two weeks ago almost 70% of eligible voters turned out to exercise
their rights in the country’s first general election following the September
19, 2006 military coup, which ousted former Prime Minister, Thaksin
The People’s Power Party (PPP), that rose from the ashes of Thaksin’s Thai
Rak Thai party were the winners, with 48% of the vote, with the Democratic
Party in second place with 34%. Five other parties made up the remaining
The challenge now is to form a coalition government under the PPP leader,
who is also a former Bangkok Governor, Mr. Samak Sundaravej. It will not be
an easy task. Firstly there is the hurdle of the Election Commission who may
suspend or ban MP’s accused of cheating in the run up to the election. Their
findings will not be made known for two weeks. Secondly, as the horse
trading starts, and the smaller political parties jockey to form a coalition
with a working majority, it is still unclear who PPP will fall into bed with
and how long the love affair might last.
The outcome of the election did not, as constitutional planners had hoped,
enable the smaller political parties to gain a foothold. The re-written
constitution allowed for a greater number of smaller constituencies in the
hope that smaller parties may have a greater influence. However the truth is
that we still endure a polarized two party system and the outcome is a
pointer to the rivalry between the two major parties. The PPP sweeping the
board in the North and Northeast whilst the Democratic Party dominated
densely populated Bangkok and the whole of the South.
The coup leaders, the Council for National Security (CNS), backed by the
army, are not happy with the outcome. Many of the richer educated masses in
Bangkok that initiated the demonstrations against Thaksin, which ultimately
led to his demise, are also not happy. The voters in the poorer North are
pleased as they hope that Thaksin will return to power, the man that gave
them food to eat and money in their pocket and initiated populist policies,
such as the 30 Baht ($1.00) healthcare scheme.
Mr. Samak Sundaravej, who many thought had not been a particularly
successful Governor of Bangkok, makes no secret of the fact that he is a
supporter (some say mouthpiece) of the former premier. He has even gone so
far as suggesting an amnesty for the politicians of the former TRT party.
So was it all worth it and how will this effect travel and tourism?
Few argue that a military junta has been bad news for Thailand Inc. Losses
to private industries of 500 billion Baht ($14.7 billion) have been
circulating for some time. The corporate and MICE markets have been badly
affected by companies unwilling to conduct their business in a country ruled
by an unelected military dictatorship.
Following the December 23 election this is now a thing of the past and the
industry has reacted cautiously over the result. The local stock market
however surged 29 points (3.7%) following the election.
Tourism in 2008 is expected to generate an additional 1 million visitors, up
from 2007’s estimate of 14.8 million. With a new government in place it is
hoped that commerce and industry will be a top priority for the new
government. Investor confidence was blunted under the old regime and many
believe there is a brighter future. The new government will be under
considerable pressure to perform and with an electorate worried how the new
government will deal with Mr. Thaksin’s expected return to Thailand from his
Thailand’s Tourism will fare better in 2008, however the swing doors of
opportunity that opened to Thailand’s neighbors, following the coup,
countries like Vietnam and China, may be difficult to swing closed, in the
highly competitive market of attracting tourism dollars.
Longtime Thailand resident, Andrew J Wood is General Manager of the
Chaophya Park Hotel Bangkok and Skal International Councillor for Thailand.