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Chinese Investors aim for penetrating Thailand’s Medical Tourism

Chinese investors. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of The Tourism Authority of Thailand to discuss publicizing Thailand’s medical tourism to Chinese visitors.

Investors from the People’s Republic of China led by Mr. Lu Min, Chairman, and Mr. Qi Xiao Jun, Executive Director and General Manager of the Shanghai Ultra Thai Investment Management Co., Ltd. together with Mr. Huang Hua, Chairman of the Sanya Tiantai Century Industrial Co., Ltd. made a courtesy call to Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand for the cooperation in publicizing Thailand’s Medical Tourism to high-end Chinese.

the Chinese investors, under the name of Ultra Thai, will invest in Medical Tourism businesses by opening 50 healthcare centers in China and healthcare centers in 5 resorts in Thailand providing services; such as, medical check-up, dental, and optical services. It is expected that these centers will be able to serve 30,000 VIP clients, and generated 1.5 billion Baht in revenue to Thailand’s medical tourism.

Economic conditions in the North in January 2015

Bank of Thailand releases economic figures

In January 2015, general economic conditions in the Northern region improved from the previous month, driven mainly by rising private consumption of necessity goods. In addition, tourism sector remained buoyant, in line with improved farm income from higher production as well as improved non-farm income. Sentiment was also supported by lower fuel prices. Manufacturing production increased from export-oriented output and consumer goods. Fallbacks of this month were a drop from government’s capital expenditure and a slack of private investment, reflecting by a laggard in real estate investment. General economic and financial stability have been benign.
Inflation and the unemployment rate remained low, although the unemployment rate was slightly higher in agricultural and construction sector. For the banking sector, growth of commercial deposits moderated while credits growth unchanged from previous month.
The rivate Consumption Index increased by 0.9 percent on year on year basis (YoY), accounted the first increase in 15 months. Favorable tourist sector and higher non-farm income were key factors together with lower fuel prices. This reflected by increased sales of necessity goods. However, durables consumption, notably automobiles continued its negative territory as household remained cautious on spending and commercial banks continued to tighten credit approvals.
The tourism sector maintained growth momentum from previous month as contributed by increasing direct flights from major cities abroad which helped boosting numbers of tourists, particularly Chinese, Korean and ASEAN. In addition, numbers of Thai tourists that came to the Upper Northern Thailand increased continually over the New Year Festival period. This resulted in rising number of air passengers as well as higher hotel occupancy rate.
Farm income rose by 3.4 percent (YoY). Major crop production geared up to 4.4 percent (yoy) following output of cassava, onion and garlic due to expansion of plantation area and quality improvement in production, resulted in higher yield per Rai. Meanwhile, productions of livestock, - especially swine and broiler chicken increased. Major crop prices improved continually with smaller decline of 0.9 percent (YoY) following falling prices of sticky rice paddy, soya bean and livestock, namely swine, broiler chicken and eggs; prices of maize and pineapple went up.
The Manufacturing Production Index registered a growth of 8.9 percent (YoY), owing to accelerated production of alcoholic beverage, in response to new legislation on Alcoholic Beverage Control and upcoming new excise tax rates. Export-oriented production of camera lenses, tableware ceramics and wooden products were higher in response to continuing demand from Europe and Asia whereas productions of electronics components and processed food declined.
Export value grew by 5.3 percent (YoY), attributing mainly from cross-border exports of consumer goods to Myanmar and Laos. Meanwhile, exports of electronic components to Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and USA increased. Concurrently, import value fell by 17.3 percent (YoY) as a result of these drops in raw materials, and intermediate goods and electronics components and parts.
The private investment index dropped by 10.9 percent (YoY) from slowdown in real estate and sluggish government investment projects. Key indicators such as the permitted construction area in municipalities, the number of commercial cars registered and sales of construction materials have yet improved.
Government disbursement from current and capital expenditure decreased by 22.1 percent (YoY) and 11.5 percent (YoY) respectively. Similar to last month, a drop of current expenditure was reflected partly by exceptionally high transfers to local authorities last year. In addition, there was adjustment of some government agencies’ payroll system that centralized all disbursement. Nevertheless, disbursement in the land and buildings category went up by 22.5 percent (YoY), mainly from maintenance and construction projects under Royal Irrigation Department, Department of Highways, Department of Rural Roads and Department of Water Resources.
General economic and financial conditions have been benign. Inflation rate was at 0.6 percent (YoY), came off for the first time in 5 years, owing mainly to declined fuel prices. Meanwhile, unemployment rate remained low at 1.0 percent (YoY), slightly higher from previous month F
In the banking sector, commercial banks’ deposits as of December 2014, accounting for 603,335 million baht and grew by 3.4 percent (YoY), although moderated from last month following a shift to higher-return investment, notably in debt instruments, along with subsided deposit mobilization campaigns. Concurrently, commercial banks’ lending accounted for 595,647 million baht, rose by 4.8 percent (YoY) at the same pace as prior month. Loans to corporate particularly, manufacturing industries, trading, constructions and housing loans picked up while loans to real estate, financial businesses and hire purchases remained contracted. (BOT)

Government eyes 4 percent export growth for 2015

Chiang Mai Mail reporters
Despite the recent slowdown in exports the Ministry of Commerce remains confident that Thailand can reach its goal of 4% growth in exports for 2015. The main reason for the slowdown in January was due to the slow growth of the global economy but the Ministry believes that increased growth to ASEAN countries and India as well as the recent pickup in the U.S. markets will see the country’s exports hit 4% for the year.
The government said that one of the main reasons for the drop in export value was due to the low prices for agricultural products on the global market. The Ministry is planning on a new stimulus package to penetrate new markets including negotiations with India, Pakistan and Turkey as new export markets.
Currently the global price of commodities such as rice and rubber have declined, global rice futures sit at a four year low and Thailand faces competition from Vietnam, India and Pakistan which sell rice at lower prices than Thailand. Rubber futures reached a five year low last October as supply outstripped demand over the past few years.

KTB and four popular restaurants woo customers with free trips to Japan

Suwat Thepreechakul, Business Director of the KTB Credit, Krung Thai Co., Ltd., and the restaurant managers from four popular restaurants announced the new campaign to win free return tickets to Japan for customers.

Nopniwat Krailerg
KTB Credit, Krung Thai Co. Ltd. has joined with the Goodview Bar & Restaurant, Goodview Village Restaurant & Karaoke, Warm Up Café, and E’Norme House of Beers to give customers the chance to win a trip to Japan. On March 7 Suwat Thepreechakul, Business Director of the KTB Credit, Krung Thai Co., Ltd., and the restaurant managers announced the “Ohayo Go Japan” to offer free trips to Japan for customers who use credits in the participating restaurants. Each customer will receive coupons after spending 500 baht to provide their names and details, giving them a chance to win 4 free trips (2 seats) to Japan worth over 480,000 baht. Other prizes include 50% discounts on KTB’s signature dishes in all 4 restaurants and 10% discounts off all menus for a year. The objective of the campaign is to attract people to use the KTB credit and is estimated that the special offers will bring in 30% more users.
Suwat Thepreechakul said that the KTB credit system has been active since 2014, inviting customers to use credit cards and the credit campaign is held in 14 different provinces, including major cities throughout the country, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Chonburi, Rayong, Songkhla, Phuket, Surat Thani, Prachuab Khiri Khan and Petchburi. Over 25,000 million baht is rotated per year in the provinces mentioned and which is why the campaign is continuing in 2015 with more offers. Chiang Mai was chosen due to the growing economy and active tourism. The campaign will be valid from today till March 31, 2015.

South Africa seeks trade and tourism ties with Chiang Mai

H.E. Ambassador Robina Marks, the ambassador to Thailand for the Republic of South Africa with some of the many well-known wines the country is famous for at the reception held at Khum Khantoke on Thursday, March 5, 2015.

Shana Kongmun
The South African Ambassador HE Robina Marks paid a visit to Chiang Mai on March 5 and 6 to meet with local business leaders and visit the province as part of South Africa’s bid to increase trade and tourism ties in Thailand.

Ruby, as she prefers to be called, is a former professor who was detained under the apartheid government and a passionate advocate for reconciliation that South Africa has demonstrated so successfully under the man considered the father of the nation, Nelson Mandela. She noted that Thailand had joined international efforts to end apartheid and HM King Bhumibol invited Nelson Mandela to Thailand where he met with the King and received an Honorary Doctorate from Chulalongkorn University in 1997. She noted that every religion has a spiritual means to reconcile and said that South Africa believes that Thailand can unite around a common vision of peaceful prosperity and democratic means.

Ragil Ratnam, Vice-Chairman for the South African Thai Chamber of Commerce, addresses members of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce about doing business with South Africa.

She added that everyone is talking about how to create a united nation and reconciliation, saying “We have been able to put all that behind us and we believe it is possible in Thailand.” Ruby added that July 18 is World Nelson Mandela Day and called on everyone in Thailand to perform a charity service for 67 minutes as Nelson Mandela did for 67 years.

Ruby also discussed her government’s desires to increase trade with Thailand and the North specifically citing recent actions that will allow the importation of longans into South Africa and the export of South African table grapes into Thailand. She said that Thailand is finalizing arrangements to accept grapes, oranges and applies from South Africa into the Thai market and that a phyto-sanitary team from Thailand had inspected facilities prior to the opening of the market.

Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce members listen to Ambassador Marks as she talks about travel and business in South Africa.

Ambassador Marks pointed out that South Africa is famous for its wines, and even brought some wines for Chamber members to taste test at the networking reception held at Khum Khantoke on Thursday, March 5, 2015. However, she pointed out that the extremely high import tariffs, between 400 and 600 percent, made it difficult for wine producers to enter the Thai market. She added that South Africa and other wine producing countries have been lobbying the Thai government to reduce the prohibitive tariffs. She added that Montclair has been the largest importer of bulk wine for relabeling as Monsoon Valley and added that the wineries were extremely grateful to Siam Winery for helping their wines but promotion of the South African brand is their ultimate goal.

Ruby added that a visit to South Africa could combine two of their most popular attractions; wine and safari, noting that there are tours that combine the two. South Africa is well-known for one of the largest national parks in the world; Kruger National Park which covers an area of 19,633 square kilometers and is one of the most renowned wildlife experiences in Africa. She added that South Africa can offer a first world experience but still offer all that experiences that make Africa different and at a lower cost than Europe. She noted it is only an 11 hour flight from Bangkok and that Thai nationals get 30 days on arrival. Information that was greeted with enthusiasm by gathered members of the Chamber.

The Ambassador added that South Africa ranks well in doing business and that it’s ranking in world corruption is not high, belying the impression that most hold that Africa is corrupt and poor. She added that it is important for people to realize that Ebola is not found in South Africa, it appears to be waning and those countries where it does exist are quite far, in fact around 5,000 km.

She pointed out that the country had not been affected strongly by the Eurozone crisis and that currently its largest trading partner is China. It is the most significant economy in Africa and has the largest reserves of platinum, coal and other resources.

At her meeting with members of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce she said that South Africa is the gateway to Africa, with extensive and modern infrastructure, making good sense to do business with South Africa.

Ambassador Marks with members of the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce.

Kasikorn Bank supporting local business owners in opening 7-11s in the North

In a bid to help local business owners set up new 7-11 stores in three Northern provinces Kasikorn Bank has signed an agreement with Choice Mini Store Company Ltd. to provide low interest loans no collateral and a ten year repayment option for new 7-11 store owners. Choice Mini Store has taken over the contract of 7-11 store franchises in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai and Lamphun from CP All Co. Ltd. Here Mr. Akaranan Titsiriwit (2nd right), the Assistant Managing Director of Kasikorn Bank, is joined by Warakorn Tantranont, CEO of Choice Mini Stores and Woravat Tantranon, Managing Director of Choice Mini Store, in signing the agreement at Rati Lanna Riverside Resort & Spa. 7-11 stores continue to grow and Kasikorn aims to provide over 100 million baht in loans in the future.

Stability of northern economy continues

Tourism continues to grow

The Bank of Thailand released their report on the state of the Northern economy for the fourth quarter of 2014. Dr. Singchai Boonyayotin, Senior Director of the Northern Bank of Thailand, said that the economy of Thailand has improved slightly after the political crisis and is still slowly recovering. The tourism sector has been the most important part of expanding the economy as has the release of the budgets for government projects.

The private sectors are doing well but farmers are having financial difficulties due to the drop in prices of vegetables and rice. Private investments are still on the mend, slowly, due to investors’ hesitation to make sure that the economy has fully restored before making further investments.

Agricultural production is stable while the industrial production of beverages has slightly dropped. However, overall the economy at present is still in good shape because both inflation and the numbers of unemployed are low.

Deposits and loans are down, compared to the previous quarter. While expenses in private sectors are slower than expected and consumption was expected to improve but the low income of farmers caused the overall rate to drop.

People in general are still paying debts, so he said that everybody must be careful and watch their expenses, especially investing in motorized vehicles like cars and motorbikes that are dropping gradually. Private investment is slow and dropped 3.8 out of 100 comparing to last year due to the new investors who are waiting for the clarification of the economic status.

Exported products have increased 8.9 out of 100 comparing to last year, especially to ASEAN countries with items such as mobile phones, electronic equipment, gas and alcohol are exported to Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore. Imported products have also increased by 6.8 including raw materials and electronic gadgets and equipment.

Tourism continues to gradually expand and prove itself the most important sector of the Northern economy. Various festivals and events have greatly enhanced the tourism industry while the cancellation of visa fees for Chinese tourist has made a great change according to the recent updates from the previous quarter. The numbers of Chinese tourists have increased over 93,628 people in 3 months. Chinese tourists are arriving in direct flights and also reserved package flights, which has increased up to 29.5% in Chiang Mai International Airport and accommodation up to 62.2%.

BOI approves 700 billion baht worth of investment projects

The Prime Minister revealed that the Board of Investment (BOI) has already approved more than 1,000 investment projects worth close to 700 billion baht.

During his speech on the weekly program "Returning Happiness to the People”, Prime Minister and Chief of the National Council for Peace and Order Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government is accelerating the approval of investment privileges and incentives for all the projects. Thus far, the BOI has approved 1,050 projects with a combined investment fund of 680 billion baht.

Meanwhile, there are more than 2,000 other projects with a total fund of 1.4 trillion baht waiting for the BOI's approval. The Prime Minister has ordered the board to particularly speed up the consideration process for projects on infrastructure and others which would help accelerate the nation's economic growth.

Gen. Prayut emphasized the necessity of developing the country's infrastructure, technology, personnel and also logistics in order to support the growth of investment and trade and increase competitiveness of the industrial sector. (NNT)

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Update March 25, 2015

Chinese Investors aim for penetrating Thailand’s Medical Tourism

Update March 12, 2015

Economic conditions in the North in January 2015

Government eyes 4 percent export growth for 2015

KTB and four popular restaurants woo customers with free trips to Japan

Update March 7, 2015

South Africa seeks trade and tourism ties with Chiang Mai

Kasikorn Bank supporting local business owners in opening 7-11s in the North

Stability of northern economy continues

BOI approves 700 billion baht worth of investment projects