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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
BUSINESS 
 

Thailand’s industrial growth to slow slightly this year

BANGKOK, Jan 28 – Thailand's Ministry of Industry today predicted this year’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the industrial sector will expand by 4-5 per cent, lower than last year’s growth of 5.5-6.5 per cent.

Industrial Economics Office director Nuttapol Nuttasomboon said the 4-5 per cent industrial GDP growth is based on an average exchange rate of Bt31 against the US dollar while the manufacturing production index (MPI) will be 3.5-4.5 per cent higher and the volume of industrial exports will reach Bt6.2 trillion.

Positive components leading to last year’s industrial growth were domestic consumption, government investment in major projects and expanded investment in the private sector due to state stimulus packages such as the tax rebate on first-car purchases and reduction of the policy interest rate, he said, adding that the pressure from oil price and inflation was rather mild while the Asian economy is stronger.

Mr Nuttapol, however, cautioned that risks remain in the industrial sector, especially when the global economy has yet to fully recover and the Bt300 daily minimum wage has posed an additional financial burden to manufacturers.

If the Thai currency appreciates by Bt1 per US dollar and the government fails to extend assistance, the value of industrial exports will possibly fall by about Bt200,000 or 2.8 per cent this year, contributing to a reduced GDP in the industrial sector by 1 per cent, he said.

Most affected industries will be rubber, furniture, jewellery, electrical appliances and electronics products, he said.

Mr Nuttapol called on the government to rely less on export to lead the country to sustainable economic structure.

Regarding the automotive industry, he said this year’s vehicle production will reach 2.5 million units, a 2.57 per cent increase from last year, while 1.25 million units will be exported. (MCOT online news)


Central bank sees signs of depreciating Thai currency

BANGKOK, Jan 28 – Bank of Thailand (BoT) Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said today that the latest market adjustment has resulted in a weakened Thai baht after two straight weeks of rapid appreciation.

He admitted that the movement of the Thai currency is fluctuating but the central bank is closing monitoring the situation to ensure that the Thai baht moves in tandem with other currencies in the market.

Mr Prasarn said the BoT is ready to discuss with the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) its seven-point proposal to help manufacturers who have been negatively affected by the appreciating Thai baht.

“In fact the central bank has taken action on some of the FTI’s proposals. We are ready to take into consideration exporters’ request to extend the one-year deadline for holding US dollars but a time frame is necessary, or it will be too risky” he said.

He urged exporters to rely more on local currencies in their international trade to alleviate the risk of currency fluctuation.

Mr Prasarn said the BoT’s close monitoring has not found any attacks on the Thai baht and the inflow of foreign funds is mostly to invest for the short term in the bond market. (MCOT online news)


Industrialist says stronger Thai baht only short term

BANGKOK, Jan 28 – A senior Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) officer predicted that the appreciation of Thai baht will be short term given its slight depreciation today.

FTI Secretary-General Thanit Sorat said the rapid strength of the Thai currency was mainly due to the inflow of foreign funds to turn a profit in Thailand where interest rates are higher than in western countries.

Interest rates from the government’s bonds provide 3-3.5 per cent yields, higher by 1 per cent than in the US and Europe, he said, expressing belief that the inflow of foreign funds for speculative investment in the Thai stock market will gradually slow down and the central bank has closely monitored the situation.

The current profit earning ratio in the Thai stock market has increased 16 fold which is rather high, he said.

He added that manufacturers and exporters in the automotive and electronics industries have cashed in on the strong Thai baht while small and medium-size businesses are on the losing side due to higher prices of imported raw materials.

The appreciating currency has weakened Thai exporters’ competitive edge by 1-2 per cent due to higher product prices but they are more concerned with the fluctuating currency movement rather than the strong baht, he said.

The most important factor favouring export growth is the economic stability of Thailand's trading partners, not the country's currency strength or weakness, he said, citing an example in 2011 when the Thai baht was Bt29 to a US dollar but Thailand enjoyed a 14-15 per cent export growth. (MCOT online news)


PM Yingluck pledges to keep public debt level below 50% of GDP

BANGKOK, 27 January 2013 (NNT) – The Prime Minister has assured that the Pheu Thai-led government will strictly adhere to financial disciplines in outlining the borrowing plan for the country’s basic infrastructure projects.

Speaking on "The Yingluck Government Meets the People" weekly TV program, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reiterated the government’s plan to implement a set of national strategic policies for the 2014 fiscal year to move Thailand forward.

According to the Premier, these strategies involve various aspects, including the enhancement of the country’s competitiveness with an aim to turn Thailand into a middle-income country status, the reduction of economic, political and social inequalities, the promotion of economic growth with an emphasis on the quality of life, and the seeking of a balance of and the improvement of the state administrative system.

PM Yingluck affirmed that the government’s borrowing plan for more than 2.2 trillion baht would adhere to strict fiscal disciplines while affirming to keep the level of public debt below 50% of GDP.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said that the government has been pushing for the construction of the rail transport systemto help lower logistics costs in Thailand.

He added that the state investment in the high-speed train system, introduced to enhance the distribution of goods, is expected to proceed to the construction biddings for 4 lines, including Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima, Bangkok- Pattaya, and Bangkok-Hua Hin, before the end of this year.


Local LPG price hike to begin in April

BANGKOK, 27 January 2013 (NNT) – The price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will be gradually increased from April, according to the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO).

EPPO Director-General Suthep Liumsirijarern said that the country’s LPG price will be increased by 50 Satang every month for a period of 1 year, starting this April.

Mr. Suthep stated that the monthly increase will add a total of 6 baht to a kilo of LPG, which is now priced at 18.13 baht per kilo.

He added that, by next March, Thai LPG price will rise to be in line with its cost of 24.82 baht a kilo.

When asked about of the National Energy Policy Committee meeting on February 8, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Mr. Suthep said that the meeting will request an approval to extend the fixed price for LPG of 18.13 baht another 3 months, or from January to March.

The LPG price pegging policy was supposed to expire since December 31, 2012.


BoT might allow exporters to hold foreign currencies longer

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT) - Bank of Thailand (BoT) Governor Mr. Prasarn Trairatvorakul said the bank will consider allowing exporters to keep foreign currencies longer in a bid to better manage their financial health as the baht is showing no sign of stability.

According to Mr. Prasarn, the BoT will look into exporters’ as well as the private sector’s requests to extend the time they are allowed to hold foreign money. The extension is deemed as a tool to safeguard them against impacts from drastic fluctuations in the baht currency at the moment.

The governor affirmed that the central bank will do all it can to help keep the business sector afloat. He also said any suggestions from the Federation of Thai Industries regarding measures to cope with the baht appreciation will be most welcomed. However, he admitted that the BoT has not had the chance to discuss the matter with the federation yet.

Mr. Prasarn explained that the recent decline of the Thai baht was in line with the market mechanism. Nonetheless, he warned businessmen to be cautious as the global economy remains unstable and the baht has a tendency to fluctuate again.


DBD speedily uplifts Thai service businesses ahead of AEC

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT) - The Department of Business Development DBD is speedily enhancing the Thai service sector in line with its 2013 strategy in order to prepare Thailand for the introduction of ASEAN Economic Community.

According to Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikua, he has assigned the DBD to help the Thai entrepreneurs improve their businesses, especially those in the service industry, to be in line with the standard in the international market.

While the department last year focused on 3 major businesses, including restaurants, spas, and elderly care services, it will attend to 4 more segments this year: massage, software development, auto-maintenance, and accommodation businesses that are not hotels or resorts.

All the strategies implemented this year will be under the AEC framework, which allows commerce and trade to be conducted without barriers among members. Therefore, the Thai entrepreneurs must gear themselves up for fiercer competitions brought on by the advent of the AEC.
 


Think tank warns of surging public debt, overspending

BANGKOK, Jan 25 – The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) urged the government to reduce the country’s public debt, especially due to the annual Bt200 billion loss incurred from the highly-criticised rice pledging scheme which is set to drag on to 2017.

Somchai Jitsuchon, a leading TDRI economist, said today that investment in infrastructure in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community, water management projects and the new corporate tax structure are some of the factors contributing to escalating public debts in 2013-2017.

He forecasts that Thailand’s economy this year will grow at least 5 per cent with inflation at 2.8 per cent, while export will be slightly higher than last year at 4.2 per cent.

The government should control public spending and adjust some projects he described as being exhorbitant while increasing certain taxes such as the land tax, construction tax and value added tax.

Debt per capita will exceed 60 per cent if Thailand’s annual economic growth is lower than 6 per cent, the TDRI economist said, indicating that successful spending control will result in public debt control.

Somkiat Tangkitvanich, TDRI president, said the Bt300 daily minimum wage has boosted workers’ income, but negatively impacted some small-sized businesses in several industries.

The TDRI proposed that the government announce 2013-2022 as a decade of productivity growth for Thailand’s businesses by boosting labour skills, investment in research and development and launching education reform. (MCOT online news)


Transport Ministry to spend Bt3 billion in airport development nationwide

BANGKOK, Jan 25 - Civil Aviation Department plans to spend a three billion baht budget to construct and develop six Thailand airports nationwide to link with transportation routes with other countries in ASEAN, according to Director-General Voradej Harnprasert.

The six airports include Betong Airport in Yala province (Bt1 billion budget to be complete in 2015), Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport (Bt1 billion budget for runway expansion and construction of a new terminal to be finished within three years), Nakhon Ratchasima Airport (Bt400 million for runway expansion of 2,500 metres), Ubon Ratchathani Airport (Bt300 million budget for development to support large aircraft), Udon Thani Airport (Bt270 million to improve its passenger terminal within two years), and Narathiwat Airport.

Mr Voradej said the airport improvement is in accord with the government's policy to make Thailand as a centre to connect transport among ASEAN people, while benefits are to be offered as an incentive to attract airlines to use Thailand's airports.

He said service systems in all airports will also be improved, while passengers will be expected to spend no more than one hour at an airport, from the current almost three hours.

On a related matter, as ASEAN member states reached a multilateral agreement on air transport liberalisation, he said all countries are expected to ratify the agreement before the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) takes effect in 2015, despite some problems on the matter in Laos, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

According to Mr Voradej, more than 10 airlines have recently registered with Thailand's Civil Aviation Department for aviation business operations. The trend continues to rise, he said. Most of them provide charter flights. (MCOT online news)


Thailand to upgrade its airports to prepare for AEC

BANGKOK, 25 January 2013 (NNT) – The Department of Civil Aviation is preparing to upgrade provincial airports in a bid to accommodate increased air travel from 2015, when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) comes into being.

Director-General of the Department of Civil Aviation Woradej Harnprasert said air transport services in Thailand need to be improved in preparation for the country’s integration into the ASEAN Community. The department plans to propose a budget of over 1.7 billion baht to carry out repair work and expand sections in airports nationwide.

Mr Woradej said the department will inject a fund of 760 million baht to expand runways and construct additional terminals at Mae Sot Airport in Tak province. A new airport is also poised to be built in Betong district of Yala province with an investment of 1 billion baht.

He voiced his belief that the kingdom is fully prepared to become a regional aviation hub once the AEC is realized in the next couple of years.


Special Report: Industry group blames rice pledging program for drop in rice export

Thailand lost its crown as the world’s top rice exporter last year to India and Vietnam while an industry group blames the government’s rice-pledging program for the drop in exports.

According to the Thai Rice Exporters Association, the kingdom exported 6.9 million tonnes in 2012, down 35.5% from the 10.7 million tonnes it shipped in 2011. Of the 6.9 million tonnes Thailand exported, around 1.7 million were registered as government-to-government deals. Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture’s figures report that Vietnam’s rice exports for last year reached 7.6 million tonnes while India's exceeded 9.5 million tonnes.

The exporters' association blamed the country's drop in exports on the rice-pledging scheme, under which the government has agreed to buy unhusked white rice from farmers at a fixed price of 15,000 baht (US$484) per tonne, which is 50 percent more than the market price and high-quality jasmine at 20,000 baht per tonne.

The government has said it will continue the scheme, which is one of the ruling Pheu Thai Party's election pledges, throughout 2013. The scheme has been hailed by local farmers as it boosted their incomes, but analysts warn that it compromises Thailand's competitiveness abroad.

Since it started the scheme in October 2011, the government has stockpiled more than 10 million tonnes of rice as the price of Thai rice jumped to nearly $200 above its competitors on the international market. The World Bank last month estimated that Thailand would lose 115 billion baht on last year's stockpiled rice if it was forced to sell at current prices.

The Yingluck administration has defended the program by arguing that buying rice at above market prices will not impact exports because Thailand has the highest quality rice and therefore can sell it abroad at higher prices.

At the moment, Thai exports are being further hindered by the strengthening baht currency, which the government blames partly on quantitative easing by the central banks of the U.S. and Japan. With the Thai currency appreciating to nearly 30 baht against the US dollar, the Federation of Thai Industries has expressed concerns that the strong baht could affect Thailand’s trade competitiveness.


BOI to hold seminar on investment promotion in East

BANGKOK, 25 January 2013 (NNT) - The Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) is urgently clarifying its new investment promotion policy to investors nationwide, especially those in the eastern region where investment is continuously expanding.

A seminar will be held for the eastern investors to explain the BOI’s new investment promotion policy and listen to the investors’ opinions. Conclusions from the seminar will be used in designing strategies specifically for investment promotion in the region. In 2012, the BOI approved support for 768 projects worth more than 300 billion baht. Most of them are in the automotive, mechanical parts, metal, petrochemical, paper and plastic, and service and utility industries.

The new investment promotion policy of the BOI entails privileges that motivate investors to put their money into research and development as well as environmental protection and encourage more investment in industrial estates and industrial clusters. Investment in these fields is in line with the country’s development direction towards a more knowledge-based economy.


Special Report: Food security standard set up to improve trade within and beyond ASEAN

As the ASEAN Economic Community is approaching, the grouping has come up with many agreements to facilitate trading within the region and beyond. The standard for food security is also an important step for the region to move forwards to being world’s top food producer.

ASEAN, in 2006, set up the ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices for fresh fruit and vegetables, known as GAP, as a standard practice for farmers and transporters to follow. The GAP is considered a step forward for the improvement of regional producers, as it prevents risks associated with production, harvesting, and post-harvest handling of fresh produce.

The GAP has been designed under four modules: food safety, environmental management, worker health and safety, and produce quality. Once all farmers and distributors follow the procedures, consumers will be guaranteed of the food quality and their own safety. This practice will earn trusts from European and US importers in terms of food standards in ASEAN.

Besides, farmers must also follow the Maximum Residue Limits (MRL), which is the maximum amount of chemical allowed in fruit and vegetables for sale. Fruit such as mango, pineapple, durian, papaya, grapefruit, and rambutan also have their own ASEAN quality standard to make sure that they are suitable for consumption after going through all the preparation and packaging.

Additionally, livestock farmers must also abide by standards for animal vaccines and the criteria for accreditation of livestock establishments, which have been endorsed for all ASEAN farmers.

In other areas, ASEAN is strengthening its genetically modified food testing network, developing guidelines on good management practices for shrimp, developing a code of conduct for responsible fisheries, and implementing the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) in the fish production and seafood products.

In 2004, the ASEAN Food Safety Network was established as a platform for ASEAN officials to exchange information on food safety.

As for Thailand, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Yukol Limlamthong has said Thailand's agro industry is now ready for the formation of ASEAN Economic community (AEC), given Thai agricultural products are of higher standard when compared to those of other countries; in addition, over 200 Thai agricultural products have already been standardized.

According to the minister, the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) has been promoting the Thai products in the ASEAN market, relying on their quality to set the benchmark for this region. He also pointed out that Thailand stands to enjoy the benefits of lower production cost than many other nations, which will help Thai exporters compete with their counterparts in the ASEAN market.
 


UTCC: 300-baht wage policy triggers a rise in GDP by 1.4%

BANGKOK, 25 January 2013 (NNT) - The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) revealed that the 300 baht minimum wage policy would help trigger the country's GDP by up to 1.4 percent.

UTCC Economic and Business Forecasting Center Director Thanawat Polvichai said the 300 baht wage scheme that took effect nationwide on January 1st would inject 150 billion baht into the Thai economic system, resulting in an increase of people’s purchasing power. He elaborated that the 7 pilot provinces that the wage policy has been pressed forward since April last year, would send over 80 billion baht into the labor market, while another 70 billion would be circulated in the rest of the country. As a result, the increased amount of money injected into the Thai economy will drive up the country’s GDP by 1-1.4 percent.

He said the daily wage adjustment does not just trigger the economy, but people can save up money and pay back their debts. However, he pointed out that the government should also increase the capability or potential of the labor in line with the wage adjustment, so that the SME segment can be more productive, which he said could prevent lay-offs or factory shut-down.

A UTCC survey shows that those companies affected by the wage rise are mostly small and medium sized enterprises, especially in the agricultural sector and labor-intensive service business. However, it is still too early to assess the production cost, employment and profit decline, and the number of factory shut-down for the moment.


New rice stock under pledging scheme to be auctioned

BANGKOK, Jan 24 – Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom has ordered a new bid for rice under the rice pledging scheme given increasing demand in the local market.

He said the Thai Rice Packers Association and the Thai Rice Mill Association are keen to buy rice from the government’s stock, while farmers have sold nine million tonnes of rice to the government from their current crop under the rice pledging scheme.

Mr Boonsong pledged that the government’s warehouses are capable of stocking the rice even though the Marketing Organisation for Farmers was instructed to find additional storage locations.

An estimated 11-12 million tonnes of rice will be bought by the Commerce Ministry under the pledging scheme in this harvest year, and rice has been gradually distributed to buyers since December, he said.

Korn Chatikavanij, former finance minister and Democrat Party deputy leader, said the government has not adhered to financial discipline, particularly regarding the rice pledging scheme and the water management projects under a Bt350 billion loan.

This Friday marks one year of the loan approval but only Bt4 billion has been earmarked, while the law sets June as the deadline to allocate the entire loan, he said.

Theerachai Puvanartnaranubala, finance minister in the previous Pheu Thai cabinet, said Thailand will encounter the problem of having am unsustainable economy in the long term with the public debt approaching a critical point.

Corruption, an inefficient bureaucratic system, state officials subordinated to politicians and populism are some of the challenging factors working against the country’s development, he said. (MCOT online news)


Thailand posts 3.12% export growth, Bt543 billion trade deficit last year

BANGKOK, Jan 24 – Thailand’s trade deficit reached US$18.1 billion (Bt543 billion) last year when exports and imports increased by 3.12 per cent and 8.22 per cent respectively from 2011, according to the Commerce Ministry.

The ministry reported that December’s exports at $18.1 billion represent an increase by 13.45 per cent from December 2011 while December’s imports totalled $20.5 billion, or 4.67 per cent higher than December 2011.

Thailand’s trade deficit in December alone was $2.37 billion, the ministry said.

The latest figure contrasted with an earlier forecast by Reuters that Thai export and import growth in December should reach 21.1 per cent and 5.95 per cent respectively while the trade deficit in the final month of 2012 was predicted at $1.33 billion.

Srirat Rastapana, director general of the International Trade Promotion Department, blamed the ongoing European economic crisis and sluggish economies in Japan, China and US for Thailand’s unfavourable export growth in December.

The appreciating Thai currency is another factor that will affect Thailand’s exports this year, especially among small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the Commerce Ministry.

The ministry is optimistic, however, that the stronger baht will not have a negative impact on Thailand’s exports this month.

The Commerce Ministry’s targetted export growth at 8-9 per cent this year was based on an assumed exchange rate of Bt30 against the US dollar. It will review the target in May.

The Thai currency appreciated to Bt29.77-29.80 against the US dollar on Wednesday – the strongest in the last 17 months. (MCOT online news)


World Bank says manipulation unrelated to stronger baht

BANGKOK, Jan 23 – A World Bank economist today ruled out an attack on Thai currency as the factor leading to the rapid appreciation of the baht.

Kirida Bhaopichitr, World Bank senior economist for East Asia and Pacific, pointed to an influx of foreign funds moving into Asia in general, as well as Thailand, to invest in stock markets and short-term bonds, and high liquidity in the global financial system.

An upswing in the Thai baht currency is unstoppable if foreign funds continue flowing into the country, she said, urging exporters to be cautious regarding the fluctuations and risk management.

Businessmen and exporters adjusted well to the situation in the past and they should have purchased risk insurance, she said, adding that despite the baht appreciation, Thai exports once expanded more than 10 per cent thanks to favourable global economy and trade.

The strongest impact of exports is on global trade, not currency appreciation or depreciation, while a stronger currency is advantageous to the private sector in importing raw materials and machines, Ms Kirida said.

The World Bank economist said the baht movement is moving in tandem with regional currencies and the Bank of Thailand is believed to be capable of managing the Thai currency or intervening in the baht by buying US dollars.

Calling on the private sector to be cautious, Ms Kirida said the influx of foreign funds is mainly for speculation in the stock and bond markets – a short-term activity.

The Thai currency will be weakened and fluctuate once foreign funds are pulled out, she warned.

A leading Thai industrialist earlier today blamed the rapid appreciation of Thai currency on attack by speculators and urged the government to tackle the problem by implementing a policy of deterrence, not prevention. (MCOT online news)


Kittiratt: First-car scheme not to be blamed for awful traffic

BANGKOK, 23 January 2012 (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Kittiratt Na-Ranong has dismissed the speculation that the worsening traffic congestion in Bangkok and its vicinity is a result of the government’s first-car project.

Mr Kittiratt confirmed that the first-car tax rebate scheme was not the cause of the growing traffic volume in the Bangkok Metropolis, reasoning that only 26% of the new cars were registered in the capital, whereas the rest were registered in other provinces. He also noted that the vehicles under the scheme had been delivered to the buyers in a gradual manner.

At the same time, Mr Kittiratt stated that the tax money that would be returned to the first-car owners had been acquired from the car buyers themselves as well as from other financial sources of the government.

Regarding solutions to the problem of worsening traffic conditions, the deputy premier said public transportation must be improved for higher efficiency and convenience in order to persuade people to use public service instead of personal cars. He said he disagreed with a method to carry out more road construction as roads would definitely not suffice the increasing number of cars in the future.


Commerce Ministry sets team to promote Thai rice in China

BANGKOK, 23 January 2012 (NNT) - The Ministry of Commerce is urgently promoting Thai rice exports by sending trade representatives to Shanghai late this month. The representatives’ mission is to restore confidence of Chinese consumers on the quality of Thai rice, especially Thai jasmine rice.

Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said on Wednesday that the Thai representatives would include 6-7 major Thai rice exporters in the Chinese market, such as CP Intertrade, Asia Golden Rice and Uthai Produce. The representatives will visit China between 24-26 January 2013 and meet with the mayor of Shanghai as well as Chinese rice traders in a bid to negotiate on the expansion of market for Thai rice. The Thai team and the Chinese rice traders will also brainstorm solutions to rice trading problems.

The representatives will visit a PR event to promote Thai rice jointly held by the Department of Foreign Trade, the Office of International Trade Promotion in Shanghai, major Thai rice exporters and CP Lotus. The event will seek to help Chinese consumers learn the difference between Thai jasmine rice and other types of jasmine rice while also promoting the logo that is used to certify Thai jasmine rice.


Government pledged to keep close watch on baht movement

BANGKOK, 23 January 2013 (NNT) - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has assigned the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Thailand and the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) to closely monitor the baht movement after the currency hit a record high.

PM Yingluck said that the baht strengthened after many countries announced the implementation of the quantitative easing policy.

She called on all sides not to panic since there had been no negative signs for the Thai economy, so far. The PM also assured that the government would make sure the baht appreciation poses no effect on the export sector while pledging to provide assistance to the private sector through investment incentives.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong confirmed that the Thai economy remains strong and is still expanding well.

He added that foreign investment, which has kept flowing into Thailand because of its sound economic conditions, attributed to the appreciation of the baht and other regional currencies.

Mr. Kittiratt stated that that the government has prepared measures to cope with the baht fluctuation.

As of Wednesday, the Thai currency has been moving between 29.70-29.95 baht against one US dollar.


DITP: Thai exports missed 2012 growth target with only 3.12% expansion

BANGKOK, 24 January 2013 (NNT) – Official data from the government shows that Thai exports have expanded less than expected in 2012.

Departmentof International Trade Promotion (DITP) Director-General Srirat Rastapana said on Wednesday that Thai exports totaled 229.18 billion US dollars last year. That is equivalent to a 3.12% on-year growth, the record that is considerably much lower than the 5% target.

Mrs. Srirat blamed the global economic conditions, shaken by crises in the US and EU, for sluggish exports of Thai farm products, which shrunk 10.8% in 2012.

However, she said that Thai exporters have been quick enough to switch to countries with high potential, such as China, India, Indonesia, the Middle East and Africa, to make up for the contraction in major markets.

The DITP chief stated that officials have been visiting entrepreneurs to provide updated knowledge and information to help them overcome all hindrances.

In 2013, Mrs. Srirat conceded that the strengthening of the baht may hit the export sector while calling on the government to stabilize the Thai currency and keep it from over-appreciation.

She added that the Commerce Ministry will also be monitoring the situation surrounding the export industry as such factors as labor costs, raw materials and interest rates may still affect the sector.

In addition, trade representatives from all over the world will join in a meeting in May to assess the world trade situation and set up a new export growth target. The DITP Director-General said that, until then, the Commerce Ministry will keep its original growth target at 8-9% for this year.

Furthermore, she revealed that Thailand registered a trade deficit of 18.07 billion US dollars in 2012, mainly due to higher global oil prices, the country’s imports of machineries and more raw materials for production and subsequent exports.


Thai Exchange warns investors to be more cautious while trading

BANGKOK, 24 January 2013 (NNT) – The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) has issued warnings for investors after suspecting speculative trading might be at play on the local bourse.

SET President Charamporn Jotikasthira said on Wednesday that securities trade on the Thai market during the first 2 weeks of this year has seen a continued rise of the index, from 1,392 points at the end of December 2012, to more than 1,400 points, at present.

Mr. Charamporn added that daily trade volume on the SET also surged by around 71% from an average of some 30 billion baht to over 50 billion baht.

He said that some securities appeared to be the targets of active speculation, which means that investors should be extra-cautious while trading and keep a close watch on news from listed companies.

The SET President stated that investors may seek assistance and look up for information of any suspected securities by visiting the Thai Exchange’s website, at www.set.or.th


Thailand enhances trade ties with Czech Republic

BANGKOK, 24 January 2013 (NNT) – The Czech Republic’s Industry and Trade Minister is leading a delegation to Thailand to discuss preparations for the First Meeting of the Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation (JEC) between Thailand and Czech Republic, set to be held in Prague in June.

Czech Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba yesterday paid a courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, after which they co-chaired the first meeting of the Thai-Czech Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation. At the meeting, both ministers signed an Agreement on Economic Cooperation between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of the Czech Republic. The agreement covers economic and technical cooperation framework and calls for the setting up of a joint economic commission (JEC). The Czech Republic agreed to host the first meeting of the JEC in Prague this June.

Both Thai and Czech ministers also witnessed the signing of a Cooperation Agreement between the Federation of Thai Industries and the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic.

While in Thailand, Mr. Kuba also attended a business forum organized by the Thai-Czech Business Council and the Ministry of Commerce. The forum provided a stage for business people of the two countries to meet and discuss potentials for joint trade and investment.

Mr. Kuba’s visit to Thailand is part of his Southeast Asian tour which also includes Vietnam and Myanmar. His delegation comprises government officials and 40 Czech business representatives.
 


Special report: PM places emphasis on education, reducing social gap to move nation forward

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has made an announcement on her new strategy to move Thailand forward, at a meeting of heads of government units and state enterprises held in Bangkok.

Ms. Yingluck said her strategy had been developed to address internal and external factors influencing the Thai economy which relies mostly on export incomes.

During her speech at Centara Grand Central World, the Prime Minister said in order for the national economy to grow it is important that the government focuses on improving education, raising social equality, tackling corruption and drug abuse as well as increasing competitiveness.

Ms. Yingluck pointed out that Thailand was lacking behind in competitiveness as previous governments did not encourage large scale investments in the country’s infrastructure. In the past, she said, infrastructural investments were launched following a year-by-year budget planning, not on a sustainable basis. In addition, Ms. Yingluck said, her 16-point urgent policy, funded by the budgets allocated during the 2012 to 2013 fiscal years, has progressed as planned.

The Premier boasted the flood relief program, the minimum wage rise, tourism growth and the first car policy among other projects that her government has succeeded in.

She also claimed that investor confidence rose during the period mentioned as tax collections exceeded the target. The number of foreign direct investments in Thailand rose by 2,500 last year compared to the year earlier.

Ms. Yingluck said she is confident that the government will achieve a better economic growth rate within the first 6 months of this year. According to her, there is also sufficient capital reserve to sustain economic expansion.

She speculated Thailand’s GDP to reach 5.5% this year while the inflation rate will rise to no more than 3% of the GDP. The Ministries of Commerce and Finance have been tasked with keeping the inflation rate under control.

The Prime Minister reiterated to the heads of government units attending the meeting that the 2014 budget expenditure that each unit will draw up should complement the mentioned strategy in order to ensure efficient disbursement of the budget.


ICT Ministry to install 300,000 free WiFi service points in Q2

BANGKOK, Jan 23 - Thailand's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry has set a goal to install free 300,000 WiFi service points nationwide in the second quarter of this year.

ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap said the government is pushing the smart Thailand project to provide the public access to the Internet. Part of the move is to welcome the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will take effect in 2015.

Thailand installed 100,000 free WiFi service points countrywide last year, he said.

Mr Anudith spoke of the progress with free WiFi service in the country at an academic seminar among Thai and Japanese-related agencies on “Wireless Broadband Experience”.

At the seminar, Japan expressed interest in the growing direction of Thailand's ICT business.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Shigekazu Sato said Japan's investment in Thailand last year reached a record high at Bt370 billion, while the number of Japanese travellers entering Thailand rose 20 per cent, reflecting the continuously growing Thai economy.

Last week’s visit to Thailand of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe signalled that Japan is ready to collaborate with Thailand on linking trade and investments with other countries in the region. (MCOT online news)
 


KBank first Thai bank linked to China’s UnionPay for online payments, e-commerce

BANGKOK, Jan 23 -- Thailand’s KasikornBank (KBank) has connected its online payment system with UnionPay International (UPI), China’s credit card giant, to serve the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand, with 3.3 million visitors expected this year.

Online payment for products and services using credit and debit cards emphasises Thailand’s leadership in e-commerce, KBank’s top executive said today, and the bank expects a 30 per cent rise in card acceptance this year by Bt60 billion (about US$2 billion).

KBank CEO/President Banthoon Lamsam said the bank and UnionPay, the Chinese credit and debit card service provider with the world’s largest cardholder base, inked a payment system connection agreement to facilitate Chinese tourists and cardholders living in Thailand with more convenience in their financial transactions, starting with K-Payment Gateway. KBank is the first Thai bank with such a service.

Initially, the system can accept UnionPay credit and debit cards issued by KBank and Chinese financial institutions, with acceptance of additional cards it and other international financial institutions issue in future.

The number of UnionPay cardholders worldwide is the world’s highest at 3.23 billion, with 2.8 billion in Asia Pacific, while merchants accepting UnionPay cards number at least 5.65 million. More than 1.37 million ATMs in 107 countries also accept UnionPay cards.

Spending in Thailand using UnionPay cards totaled approximately Bt34.5 billion ($1.15 billion) in 2012, while ATM cash withdrawals using the card were Bt1.56 billion, a rise of 38 per cent. Spending via KBank’s electronic data captures (EDCs) was at Bt7.7 billion, a jump of 38 per cent.

The agreement with UnionPay lets merchants using K-Payment Gateway accept UnionPay credit and debit cards, to support boosting sales with e-commerce in Thailand.

The move allows online business extension, as Chinese are the largest group of foreign tourists in Thailand, more than from Malaysia. In 2012, more than 2.8 million Chinese visited Thailand, a rise of 62 per cent from the previous year. The number is expected to rise to 3.3 million in 2013.

KBank hopes to develop more services for Chinese clients and will also issue UnionPay cards to Thais.

K-Payment Gateway now serves international credit and debit cards in 36 major currencies. In 2012, more than Bt45 billion in card acceptance was conducted using K-Payment Gateway, marking its top player position with more than a 70 per cent market share.

Mr Banthoon said KBank sees the agreement with UnionPay as helping boost card acceptance via its K-Payment Gateway with least 30 per cent growth, some Bt60 billion. (MCOT online news)
 


Energy Ministry mulls Bt2 billion fund for energy conservation

BANGKOK, Jan 23 – The Energy Ministry is considering setting up a Bt2 billion revolving fund to boost Thailand’s energy conservation, according to a senior official.

Amnuay Thongsathitya, director general of the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency (DEDE), said the Bt2 billion fund will enable the Energy Ministry to co-invest with energy conservation-oriented companies which offer yields in less than seven years.

He was confident that the investment is in line with the ministry’s projected reduction of energy consumption by 25 per cent in 2030.

Wichianchot Sukchotrat, deputy minister, said the ministry has encouraged the private sector to invest in energy conservation ventures in the last five years through the formation of the ESCO Fund – a Bt500 million grant from DEDE.

The non-profit Energy Conservation Foundation of Thailand (ECFT), appointed by DEDE as fund manager, has invested in clean and renewable energy. It is authorised to provide capital and assist small- and medium-sized businesses in project development and technical assistance.

A total of 170 companies joined the first phase of the ESCO Fund, contributing to a total investment of Bt3.31 billion on energy conservation enterprises. The investment has led to energy conservation at a value of Bt545 million per year.

Pol Maj-Gen Wichianchot said the second phase of ESCO Fund (2012-2013) will result in energy conservation at a total value of over Bt5 billion per year.

The Energy Ministry is proposing the third phase of ESCO Fund at Bt500 million – an investment that will boost the efficiency of Thailand’s industrial sector and competitiveness in the global market.

This is part of the government’s 20-year energy conservation plan, aimed at reducing energy consumption by 25 per cent within 2030, he explained. (MCOT online news)


BoT predicts easing economic risks & recovering exports in 2013

BANGKOK, 23 January 2013 (NNT) – The Bank of Thailand (BoT) is offering a somewhat rosy outlook for the local economy in 2013 as the global economic conditions look set to gradually pick up from now.

BoT Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said on Tuesday that the central bank has completed its prediction of the Thai economy in 2013, which suggested lower economic risks because of the recovering global economy.

Mr. Prasarn added that the BoT believes private investment will also continue to expand, due to strong domestic demand.

The central bank also forecast that the export sector will start to recover toward the level, which it will become a driving engine for the Thai economy again during the second half of this year.

The BoT Governor stated that all these positive factors will significantly help drive the local economy to expand further, even though parts of the state-initiated stimulus measures will expire sometime this year.

He went on to say that the inflationary pressure is likely to ease in 2013 as the recent nationwide implementation of the daily minimum wage should not have any impact on consumer prices because most entrepreneurs have already worked out their cost structures and boosted their productivity to cope with this issue.


Finance Ministry ready to support key strategies to prompt Thailand for AEC

BANGKOK, 23 January 2013 (NNT) – The Finance Ministry has announced its readiness to support key state-initiated strategies to prompt Thailand for the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said on Tuesday that the Thai economy is estimated to be worth around THB12 trillion at present, even though it has been hit drastically by the severe flood crisis in 2011.

Mr. Kittiratt stated that the Finance Ministry is set to work in accordance with a set of key strategies designed to help bring Thailand forward, in order to help prepare the country for the AEC realization in less than 2 years, as called for by the Prime Minister.

He added that as Thailand has been having quite a low level of state investment, the country’s basic infrastructure development has accordingly been mediocre.

The Finance Minister stressed that more and speedy investment into railway, land, marine and air transportations mush be made to enhance the country’s competitiveness and boost the economic growth as well as help Thais make more income.

Mr. Kittiratt said that the state budgeting for fiscal 2014 will see a small current account deficit, which has been designed to benefit the economy.
 


Central bank ready to unveil anti-currency speculation measures

BANGKOK, Jan 22 – The Bank of Thailand (BoT) is closely monitoring the movement of Thai currency and ready to apply measures, if necessary, to tackle baht manipulation, Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said today.

He said financial losses to be incurred by the BoT are not an obstacle in taming currency speculation since the central bank is duty bound to maintain a balanced growth of the economy and stability of the monetary system as well as the movement of currency and fluctuation.

“We have the tool and we’ll use it accordingly if we find manipulation in the market,” said the BoT governor. “We still want the baht movement in line with the market mechanism.”

He would not disclose the BoT’s future actions to balance the currency.

Thai investment abroad totalled US$11 billion last year while foreign investment in Thailand was $8 billion, Mr Prasarn reported, adding that Thai investment in overseas securities was $8 billion but foreign investment in Thai securities and bonds was $12 billion.

Describing the values as “rather balanced” and not needing BoT intervention, Mr Prasarn said Thai investors will greatly expand their business overseas in the future – a trend that contributes to Thailand’s competitiveness and full use of the strong Thai currency.

He said the baht appreciation, though as high as 5-6 per cent this year, is in tandem with Malaysia’s ringgit and the Philippine peso.

He admitted that the Thai currency is too strong in the short term but, based on the economic fundamentals of Thailand and neighbouring countries, it has not departed from the trend in the last few years.

The low policy interest rate may indulge the private sector into excessive debt and stimulate depositors to invest in risk assets – factors that may lead to imbalance and a financial bubble situation, he said.

He added that foreign commercial banks will be given licences to operate in Thailand early next year while a framework negotiation will be set for Thai commercial banks to expand their businesses under the ASEAN Economic Community’s Qualified ASEAN Bank and penetrate into non-banking and micro finance services. (MCOT online news)


Government insists on keeping fiscal discipline

BANGKOK, Jan 22 - The government insists on keeping discipline over its budget and is confident that a budget balancing spending and revenue will be achieved within three years.

Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong spoke at a seminar on the government's policies and strategies to drive the country, pointing to the 2014 fiscal budget.

He said the spending budget for the 2013 fiscal year is set at Bt2.4 trillion, while the revenue target is set at Bt2.1 trillion. The government will follow a policy on enhancing budget spending efficiency to reduce the deficit to Bt300 bilion this year, and to Bt2.5 billion in 2014.

The Finance Minister said the government's investment budget at Bt2.2 trillion is not considered as increasing its debt burden. The government can settle this debt within 7.5 years. Inflation will increase 0.1-0.2 per cent but no more than 3 per cent, he said. (MCOT online news)
 


Toyota’s surging car sales to fall slightly this year

BANGKOK, Jan 22 – Toyota Motor Thailand predicted its historic sales of 1.4 million vehicles last year to decline by 10 per cent to 1.2 million units this year, according to the company’s top executive.

President Kyoichi Tanada of Toyota Motor Thailand said the government’s policy of tax exemption for first-car buyers last year had pushed the sales of Toyota cars to a record high with more than half of the total production for the domestic market.

Last year’s domestic sales increased by 78 per cent and exports were 62 per cent higher while the total value of exports, including spare parts, was recorded at Bt242.6 billion, he said.

Without the government’s stimulus, this year’s car sales will be less active but still high at about 1.2 million units.

Mr Tanada said Toyota Motor will invest Bt12 billion this year to expand its assembly plant in Chachoengsao which will boost production from 220,000 units/year to 300,000 units/year.

He said about 30,000 domestic spare parts suppliers have been negatively affected by the Bt300 daily minimum wage, adding that Toyota Motor has asked its suppliers to improve their production efficiency.

Ninnart Chaitheerapinyo, Toyota Motor Thailand vice president, said the company supports the government’s planned tax collection based on gas emissions but called on an extension of the enforcement, scheduled for the next three years, to five years to enable automotive manufacturers to adjust to the measures.

It takes about four years to launch a new model, he said. (MCOT online news)


THAI president to propose 500 million baht incentive-allowance budget to board

BANGKOK, 22 January 2013 (NNT) - As a way to settle the demand from his employees, Thai Airways International President Sorajak Kasemsuvan has stated that he will propose a 500-million baht extra diligence allowance to the board meeting.

Mr Sorajak said that the Labor Union Leader has met with the executive board and acknowledged the company's performance, bonus value, and how the company calculates the bonus. However, the union still demanded that the board increase the incentive-allowance budget to 500 million baht up from the 200 million initially earmarked for employees' bonus. He said that this issue will be discussed during the board meeting on February 8th.

According to the THAI President, the union was satisfied with the discussion and promised not to stage any more strike until the day the board met. The labor union leader also apologized to THAI passengers for causing delays and inconveniences to them. Mr Sorajak said employees on strike on Saturday would not face any action.
 


Cabinet extends diesel tax cut for another month

BANGKOK, 21 January 2013 (NNT) - The Cabinet has approved the extension of the diesel tax reduction policy for one more month. However, the move is expected to cost the government 9 billion baht in its diesel tax collection revenue.

Government Spokesman Tossaporn Serirak said the Cabinet has agreed to a 1-month extension for the collection of reduced diesel excise tax. Under the policy, diesel with the amount of sulfur of not more than 0.005% of its weight, generally known as Diesel B2, as well as diesel with fatty acid methyl ester of not less than 4%, or Diesel B5, are both taxed at 0.5 satang per liter.

The newest round of extension will begin from February 1st to 28th. According to the Spokesperson, this extension will likely reduce the government’s revenue from diesel excise tax collection by as much as 9 billion baht.


THAI gets $240 million loan to purchase 2 Airbus A330s

BANGKOK, 22 January 2013 (NNT) - Kasikorn Bank, along with foreign financial institutions, is lending 240 million US dollars to THAI Airways International to purchase 2 new aircraft.

According to Kasikorn Executive Vice President Vasin Vanichvoranun, the bank is joining hands with French Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and Germany-based Landesbank Hessen-Thuringen, to loan 240 million US dollars to THAI Airways International, to purchase two Airbus A330-300s. The loan comes with a 12-year repayment term. According to him, the loan has made Kasikorn the first Thai commercial bank to provide this type of international financial services.

In the meantime, THAI Airways International President Sorajak Kasemsuvan said the purchase is in accordance with the company's 3-year program of aircraft procurement, in order to develop its fleet and raise its financial potentials. The new Airbus330-300s have been operating since September last year, on the Bangkok-Taipei-Hong Kong-Japan route.


DBD uplifts Thailand’s logistics system

BANGKOK, 22 January 2013 (NNT) - The Commerce Ministry has given certificates to road transportation businesses which passed the quality standard in 2012, as a mean to encourage others in the logistics industry to follow suit and help them uplift their business capacity.

Department of Business Development (DBD)Deputy Dirctor-General Ittipol Changlum said his department has been playing an important role in preparing Thai entrepreneurs, especially the logistics businesses, ahead of the emergence of ASEAN Economic Community.

To encourage Thai logistics businesses, the DBD has awarded those entrepreneurs, whose standards, in 2012, have met the DBD requirements. The director said the move would help enhance the capability of Thai SMEs to be on par with their counterparts in the ASEAN region.

He said logistics businesses are vital to the country’s economic development. They involve transportation, warehousing and storage, inventory management and packaging, etc. They create an income of 820 billion baht per annum. At present, about 16,000 logistics businesses have registered with the department, with a total of 234 billion baht in registered capital.


Finance Ministry considering helping debtors of loan shark

BANGKOK, 22 January 2013 (NNT)BANGKOK, 22 January 2013 (NNT)-People indebted to loan sharks may no longer have to avoid paying exorbitant interest rates as the Ministry of Finance is considering a move to allow government financial institutions to refinance their obligations. Director-General,Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) Dr.Somchai Sujjapongse has reportedly proposed to the Finance Ministry a solution to help those struggling to pay off their underground loans by asking government banks to either provide them with new loans or refinance existing ones.

According to Dr. Somchai, the goal of his proposal is to stamp out shady money lenders by helping people refinance their debts. A special lending window will be provided at every state-owned bank, he added.

As for those who are unable to find common ground with their lenders, a team of police and the Revenue Department will be set up and tasked with negotiating for lower interest rates charged, in an attempt to help debtors improve their financial situation.

He said later that the bank would only grant debtors loans to pay off their lender only after they became financially sound. The Director General said Finance Minister Mr. Kittiratt Na Ranong had agreed with his proposal although further study on the subject was needed.

The Office might ask community leaders overseeing both the community welfare and village funds to take part in the program, given they are already lending their hands to those who owed underground lenders; by requiring debtors to save their money in their savings accounts for a period of time before giving them the loans to pay off their underground debts.
 


Seminar on trades held to prepare Thai business sector for AEC

BANGKOK, 22 January 2013 (NNT)-The Department of Trade Negotiations has recently held a business seminar to provide a platform for businessmen and women to discuss and exchange ideas over investment prospect within the framework of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

Director General of the Department of Trade Negotiations Mrs. Srirat Rastapana said the seminar was organized with an objective of gearing up the business sector in Thailand, particularly those small and medium enterprises, for the advent of the AEC in 2015.

The event received support from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific or UN ESCAP. Experts on trades and sales promotions from both Thailand and overseas gathered at this event to share their thoughts on challenges and opportunities for investors in the ASEAN region.

They also discussed other important issues including intellectual property rights and trade barriers as well as business ventures. According to Mrs. Srirat, her department has come up with several solutions aimed at helping SME owners stay in business; one among which, for example,is the lowering of participation fees for those wishing to showcase their services or products in trade exhibitions both in Thailand and overseas.


Thai Airways staff rally for higher pay, disrupt operations at Suvarnabhumi

BANGKOK, Jan 19 -- Some 600 Thai Airways International (THAI) employees protested at Suvarnabhumi Airport today, demanding a 7.5 per cent pay rise and two months bonus.

The rally interfered with today's flights, airline officials said.

In addition to the rally itself, THAI staff refused to move the airline's aircraft from their assigned waiting areas interfering with operations so that the flights of other airlines could not take off or land at the airport.

The protest interfered with luggage handling, forcing the delay of luggage reclamation by almost one hour.

The protesters also called on airline chairman Ampon Kittiampon to resign from his post.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt ordered national flag carrier President Sorajak Kasemsuvan to meet with the employees who staged the protest.

He vowed to move against workers who left their duties to join the protest which caused disruption of flights and affected many travellers.

The protest reportedly delayed the flight by 10 to 15 minutes. (MCOT online news)


THAI employees end strike after salary increase agreed

BANGKOK, Jan 20 A protest by hundreds of Thai Airways employees at Suvarnabhumi Airport to demand increased salary and bonus payments ended after THAI board of director agreed to raise salary by the maximum level of 7.5 percent.

After the meeting and negotiation between THAI board and representatives of the labour union, the maximum of 7.5 percent salary increase was mutually agreed.


Regarding the demand for a two-month bonus payment, the airline’s labour union is scheduled to meet with THAI president Sorajak Kasemsuvan on Monday to learn about the company’s performance, on which the bonus payment is based.

Currently, the situation at the country’s main international airport is back to normal and the operations have resumed normally.

The strike led by the labour union started on Friday afternoon (January 18) at Bangkok’s main international airport. The rally was aimed at calling for the 7.5 percent salary hike and the two-month bonus.

The protest disrupted operations, delayed some flights and interfered with luggage handling, forcing delays at luggage claims. (MCOT online news)


Thai central bank revises 2013 growth forecast to 4.9% Share on linkedin

BANGKOK, Jan 18 – The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has revised its growth forecast for this year upward by 0.3 per cent to 4.9 per cent, giving credit to rising exports, private consumption and investment, said Paiboon Kittisrikangwan, BoT Assistant Governor.

The bank said in its monetary policy report that Thailand’s growth projection was revised upward for last year and this year is still driven mainly by private consumption and investment.

Last year's growth forecast was revised up to 5.9 per cent from the earlier projected at 5.7 per cent.

This year’s growth forecast was revised up to 4.9 per cent from 4.6 per cent while next year’s GDP is forecast to grow 4.8 per cent.

Mr Paiboon said the global economic risks in the worse-case scenario have declined, given the lower probability of Greece’s exit from the euro area and the recent progresses on fiscal concerns in the US Exports still suffer from the global slowdown, but seem to have bottomed out and show incipient signs of recovery.

Exports this year are projected to grow nine per cent from 3.6 per cent last year and 9.7 per cent growth is forecast for next year.

State and private investment are positive factors for economic growth. Private and state investment is likely to expand 12.1 per cent and 17.1 per cent respectively. However, the government must invest within the timeframe to avoid any adverse effect on the latest growth forecast, he said.

This latest forecast, however, has yet included Bt2.2 trillion investment in basic infrastructure as it is still unclear and needs time for implementation.

A risk factor for the Thai economy which needs to be monitored is the fluctuation of fund flows, which may influence the currency exchange rate. The rapid appreciation of the Thai baht may be short-lived but it benefits the imports of heavy machinery.

Other risk factors are acceleration of credit and household debt and results of the second round of minimum wage rises, which is initially assessed to not impact inflation, but small enterprises could go out of business.

The central bank maintains this year’s inflation forecast at 2.8 per cent for headline inflation and 1.7 for core inflation. (MCOT online news)


Finance Minister: Government has measures to stabilize Baht

BANGKOK, 18 January 2013 (NNT)-Finance Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong has downplayed the continuous rise of the Thai baht against the US dollar, saying a stronger baht had been in anticipation due to depreciation of the American currency in overseas markets. Compared to other currencies, the Minister said the baht did not rise significantly.

Mr. Kittiratt said the baht rise would affect the export sector only if the baht rate went to 29 baht per US dollar. One US dollar was valued at around 30 baht on Friday. He said the Bank of Thailand (BoT) would be allowed to intervene in the market on a temporary basis as the rise of about 20 satang in the daily baht value was not a welcoming sign.

The Finance Minister also remarked that it was the BoT’s duty to keep the influx of foreign capitals under control. He said however that it was common for the baht to fluctuate, but fluctuations must not be too frequently.

The Minister also mentioned that the advantages of Baht rise include cheaper import goods and fuel as well as low inflation rates; however, a stronger Baht could have significant impact on the export sector as its income would be lower.

He further stated that the government will not enforce any measures to tame the Baht but will encourage industrialists, particularly SMEs, to import more machinery to replace the old ones. It will also try maintaining the current account balance at no more or less than 1% of the GDP in an attempt to stabilize the Baht.
 


Transport Ministry inks MOU to build Red Line stations

BANGKOK, 18 January 2013 (NNT) - The State Railway of Thailand has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with contractors to build Bangsue station and maintenance facilities, at the cost of nearly 30 billion baht.

According to Transport Minister Chatchart Sitthiphan, the agency has signed the first contract with SU Group regarding Bangsue-Rangsit Red Line extension plans, which are expected to be completed in 2015.

The second contract on the construction of stations along the Red Line is set to be inked next month, pending Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)’s approval of loan requests.

Mr Chatchart elaborated that SRT Governor Prapat Jongsa-nguan has been assigned to oversee the development of commercial space in the Bangsue station, transport connections linking the Red Line, and other transport services in Bangkok.


 

DAILY UPDATE

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Back to Main Page

Thailand’s industrial growth to slow slightly this year

Central bank sees signs of depreciating Thai currency

Industrialist says stronger Thai baht only short term

PM Yingluck pledges to keep public debt level below 50% of GDP

Local LPG price hike to begin in April

BoT might allow exporters to hold foreign currencies longer

DBD speedily uplifts Thai service businesses ahead of AEC

Think tank warns of surging public debt, overspending

Transport Ministry to spend Bt3 billion in airport development nationwide

Thailand to upgrade its airports to prepare for AEC

Special Report: Industry group blames rice pledging program for drop in rice export

BOI to hold seminar on investment promotion in East

Special Report: Food security standard set up to improve trade within and beyond ASEAN

UTCC: 300-baht wage policy triggers a rise in GDP by 1.4%

New rice stock under pledging scheme to be auctioned

Thailand posts 3.12% export growth, Bt543 billion trade deficit last year

World Bank says manipulation unrelated to stronger baht

Kittiratt: First-car scheme not to be blamed for awful traffic

Commerce Ministry sets team to promote Thai rice in China

Government pledged to keep close watch on baht movement

DITP: Thai exports missed 2012 growth target with only 3.12% expansion

Thai Exchange warns investors to be more cautious while trading

Thailand enhances trade ties with Czech Republic

Special report: PM places emphasis on education, reducing social gap to move nation forward

ICT Ministry to install 300,000 free WiFi service points in Q2

KBank first Thai bank linked to China’s UnionPay for online payments, e-commerce

Energy Ministry mulls Bt2 billion fund for energy conservation

BoT predicts easing economic risks & recovering exports in 2013

Finance Ministry ready to support key strategies to prompt Thailand for AEC

Central bank ready to unveil anti-currency speculation measures

Government insists on keeping fiscal discipline

Toyota’s surging car sales to fall slightly this year

THAI president to propose 500 million baht incentive-allowance budget to board

Cabinet extends diesel tax cut for another month

THAI gets $240 million loan to purchase 2 Airbus A330s

DBD uplifts Thailand’s logistics system

Finance Ministry considering helping debtors of loan shark

Seminar on trades held to prepare Thai business sector for AEC

Thai Airways staff rally for higher pay, disrupt operations at Suvarnabhumi

THAI employees end strike after salary increase agreed

Thai central bank revises 2013 growth forecast to 4.9% Share on linkedin

Finance Minister: Government has measures to stabilize Baht

Transport Ministry inks MOU to build Red Line stations

 

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