ASEAN Indian FTA expected to be signed at Hua Hin summit
A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India is expected to be signed during
the ASEAN summit to be held in the Thai resort of Hua Hin from February 27 -
March 1, a senior Thai commerce ministry official said.
Director-General Apiradi Tantraporn of the Foreign Trade Department said if
the FTA is signed India will open up its markets for goods produced by the
10 member countries of ASEAN while tariffs imposed by the New Delhi
government will be reduced to zero for 3,666 items by the end of 2012.
Among the ASEAN-made goods which will gain from zero tariff are
refrigerators, fans, air conditioner parts, jewelry and ornamental goods,
rubber products and plastic resins, Apiradi said.
Thai exporters wishing to receive tax privileges under the ASEAN-India FTA
must ask for certificates of origin for goods from the Foreign Trade
Department because items to be exported to India must contain at least 35
percent raw materials manufactured from ASEAN and India, she said.
Currently, only 82 items fall under the Thai-Indian FTA.
The ASEAN-India FTA, if signed during the summit, will help boost investment
in India and trade among the Southeast Asian bloc member countries because
of using raw materials manufactured by ASEAN members on goods to be exported
there, Mrs. Apiradi added. (TNA)
extra budget will boost economy
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he was confident
that a Bt116.7 billion supplementary budget would help cushion impacts of
the economic slump, and that the funds would be injected into the economy as
early as March.
The premier made the remarks after the bill won parliamentary approval early
The government pins high hopes on the extra budget to help stimulate the
country’s economy amid global economic downturn.
The bill won the backing of 238 members of parliament out of 455 MPs present
in its first reading.
The passage of the bill came after more than 11 hours of intense debate
during which the Puea Thai-led opposition and the government traded
A special 35-member committee has been set up to thoroughly scrutinize the
bill which must successfully pass through two more readings before being
Among key economic stimulus measures included are cash handouts for
low-income employees and the elderly, tax cuts, government-funded free
education for 15 years and free rides on public transport.
Prior to the vote, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dismissed the
opposition’s heavy criticism that the government’s economic stimulus package
was tantamount to buying votes in advance, and that it would fail to spur
The government responded that it had allocated the budget in response to
immediate problems and priorities.
Long-term measures covering all sectors would be implemented with an aim to
restore the economy, said the premier.
The Thai economy has slowed sharply in recent months, with the Bank of
Thailand lately revising its 2009 growth forecast to just 0.5 - 2 percent,
less than half the growth rate posted last year. (TNA)
Thai economy slows sharply in Q4 2008
The Thai economy slowed more rapidly in the fourth
quarter last year with both domestic and overseas demand declining sharply,
according to the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO).
FPO Director-General Somchai Sajjapong revealed on Thursday that private
consumption in the fourth quarter slowed clearly as could be witnessed by a
marginal increase in the value-added tax collection by only 0.1 percent
compared 16.1 percent in the previous quarter.
The import of consumer products dropped by 2.5 percent and motorcycle sales
increased by only 8 percent compared with 16.2 percent in the quarter
It reflected declined spending by people in provincial areas now that their
incomes and purchasing power had declined since most farm products had
decreased in parallel with product prices in the world market.
Private investment in the fourth quarter had also slowed, as witnessed by
property tax shrinking by 5.6 percent against a growth of 22.2 percent in
the previous quarter.
Many fiscal indicators showed net revenue collected by the government in the
fourth quarter of 2008 totaled Bt272,800 billion, down 16.1 percent.
Exports totaled US$38.7 billion in value, a decrease for the first time in
seven years, of 10.6 percent, while imports grew by 3.7 percent to $40.20
billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.4 billion.
He said the country’s economic stability had improved continuously as the
general inflation rate dropped to 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter the
previous year from 7.2 percent the quarter before.
Reduced inflation stemmed from lower energy and food prices.
The unemployment rate stayed as low as 1.3 percent and the international
reserve as of the end of December 2008 totaled $111 billion. (TNA)