Vol. VIII No. 12 - Tuesday
March 24 - March 30, 2009



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BUSINESS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Thai consumer confidence index plunges to 7 year low

Chinese business keen to boost investment in Thailand

Ex-Bangkok Bank of Commerce exec gets 20 years, Bt3 billion added fine

Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand to cooperate in developing furniture

Thai consumer confidence index plunges to 7 year low

Anxieties over the decline in the economy and the spiraling cost of living caused the Thai consumer confidence index in February to fall for the first time since the coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took office last December, retreating to an 85 month low, according to a survey.
Vice-Rector Saowanee Thairungroj of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) said the consumer confidence index (CCI) in February dropped to 74, down from 75.2 in January, its lowest level since February 2002.
UTCC’s Economic and Business Forecast Centre director Thanawat Palavichai said the decline in February was considered high with the global and Thai economies in a worse-than-expected state after Thailand’s gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2008 contracted 4.3 percent, its lowest level in the past decade.
The fall in Thailand’s exports along with rising unemployment, retail oil prices and the cost of living are expected to continue lowering the consumer confidence index until the third quarter of 2009, Thanawat explained.
He said the public still wants the government to issue more economic stimulus measures to increase jobs and help bolster consumer confidence and private investment during the rest of this year.
The government must accelerate its spending and build confidence among the people otherwise the Thai economy could deteriorate further, Thanawat said. (TNA)


Chinese business keen to boost investment in Thailand

Chinese businesspersons are interested in investing more in various industries in Thailand, Industry Minister Chanchai Chairungruang said on Thursday.
Speaking after meeting with executives of the Sino-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Charnchai said he learned that the Chinese business operators showed interest to invest more in Thailand.
From some 200 companies, each with a business size of at least Bt10 billion in value, will meet in Bangkok May 25-27 to discuss ways to increase investment in Thailand.
Initially, he said, the Chinese entrepreneurs had paid attention to investing in farm product processing, foods, electronic parts, computer, and auto parts industries.
More importantly, some of the Chinese business visitors expressed interest to co-invest with their Thai counterparts in building an industrial estate to accommodate their investment.
Chanchai said the Ministry of Industry and the Sino-Thai Chamber of Commerce will discuss a way to put their investment plans into practice as soon as possible.
The minister added the chamber had informed him of a campaign to bring 10,000 Chinese couples to wed in Thailand. It is believed the campaign would help boost revenue significantly in the tourist business sector. (TNA)


Ex-Bangkok Bank of Commerce exec gets 20 years, Bt3 billion added fine

Thailand’s Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced former president of the defunct Bangkok Bank of Commerce (BBC) Krirkkiat Jalichandra in an eighth case in a series of embezzlement charges to 20 years prison and a fine of Bt3.134 billion.
In Wednesday’s action the court sought Bt8.704 billion to be returned from three defendants.
Krikkiat was previously sentenced to a combined 110-year imprisonment plus fines of Bt7.49 billion and US$472 million.
The former banker is charged with embezzling about Bt1.5 billion by collaborating with Rakesh Saxena, then advising Krirkkiat and the BBC’s treasury, between 1994-1995, in approving loans with inflated collateral, causing significant damage to the bank.
Saxena is living in Canada and has thwarted Thailand’s attempts to extradite him to serve his prison sentence.
American Standard Appraisal Co. was fined Bt2 billion and its managing director Phairoj Soongsil was sentenced to 10 years jail time and a fine of Bt2 billion, and were ordered to return Bt1.57 billion to BBC creditors.
Other defendants in the marathon criminal case are former BBC vice-president Ekachai Athikhomnantha and former BBC financial management and investment banking director Wanchai Thamthitiwat, who were both found not guilty.
In Wednesday’s trial, the Criminal Court originally sentenced Krirkkiat to 130 years imprisonment but Thailand’s maximum legal imprisonment is 20 years. Subsequently the court reduced the sentence to 20 years plus the fine of Bt3.134 billion.
Krirkkiat and his accomplices had been charged with 26 cases in the BBC saga with the present case being number eight. (TNA)


Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand to cooperate in developing furniture

Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand have agreed to cooperate in developing products, particularly household furnishings and furniture, with the goal of positioning the product in markets around the world, according to Department of Export Promotion (DEP) Director-General Rachane Potjanasuntorn.
Leaders of the three countries discussed their concerns in the matter during the ASEAN Summit recently held at the Cha-am resort.
Rachane said state agencies concerned with intra-ASEAN trade affairs will meet soon to lay a tangible framework for their expanding cooperation.
He said that Thai furnishings and furniture had been recognized in quality terms by large- and medium-size markets as well as new markets.
Although many countries have been affected by the global economic meltdown, he believes opportunities and demands for Thai furniture would remain sound this year.
It is expected the export of industrial products would grow 3-5 percent with a total value of Bt45 billion this year.
“The commerce ministry is still confident that furniture exports will expand satisfactorily,” he said, “but we are more concerned about a labor shortage in furniture production.
“As far as I have seen, the number of employees in the furniture industry has not been cut back. In contrast, the demand for labor in the sector has increased,” he said. (TNA)



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