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Update January - February , 2020


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Update by Thanaphon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
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40 % of Local Construction Materials to Be Used for Railway Projects

BANGKOK (TNA) A new self-reliance development strategy “Thai First” has been launched with the first target to rely on 40 percent of Thai-made materials for railway construction projects.

Fifteen public agencies and private enterprises signed an agreement spearheaded by Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research on Wednesday.

The “Thai First” strategy is aimed at advancing innovation and human resources development in order to become more self-reliant in railway construction.

The agreement also set a target for using at least 40 percent of Thai-made materials worth THB7 billion within four years.

At present, Thailand was capable of manufacturing powertrain, brake system and cabin equipment, said Sorapong Paitoonpong, Director-general of Rail Transport Department. 

Using domestically-manufactured parts and materials could reduce maintenance cost and fare, he said. (TNA)

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PM promises more economic stimulation packages

BANGKOK (TNA) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha promised the government would issue more measures to stimulate the national economy.

Gen Prayut made the promise in Nakhon Ratchasima province where he visited people affected by the Feb 8 shooting rampage.

“The measures will focus on the promotion of domestic tours but the important question is whether people have money to travel,” the prime minister said.

“Please be strong and patient. The government will try to work out suitable measures. Some measures may affect some groups of people.”

Gen Prayut said that there were several factors that obstructed economic stimulation measures and they included the novel coronavirus outbreak that caused travel restriction.

Regarding economic stimulation for Nakhon Ratchasima, the prime minister said that there would be sports events including running and Muay Thai competitions as well as performances in the northeastern province. Gen Prayut said that he would participate in the events when he is available.

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Cabinet approves 1.7 billion baht budget for underwater electricity cable tunnel to Koh Tao

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Cabinet has approved a 1.7 billion baht budget for a project to construct an underwater electricity cable tunnel from Koh Pha Ngan to Kh Tao, in a bid to supply a rising demand for power.

Government Spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwan, explained that 1.3 billion baht will be borrowed from local financial institutions, and the Provincial Electricity Authority will fund the remaining amount.

She further clarified that the project will cover the development of Koh Tao’s electricity grid, power distribution capacity and stability, as the southern island welcomes a rising number of visitors each year and enjoys expanding economic growth.

The three-year initiative that is expected to begin next year involves the construction of a tunnel to house the cable, the establishment of a power distribution system, and the installation of related equipment.

The project was initially begun in 2014 but was postponed until it was renewed by the current administration.

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Thailand to Develop Local Railway Content, Personnel

BANGKOK (TNA) Government and private organizations signed an agreement on academic cooperation to develop local railway components and relevant personnel as the country is actively expanding its railway networks.

Fifteen organizations took part in the signing. They included the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research and the Department of Rail Transport.

After the signing, Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation, said the local railway development would cover both technology and personnel.

The participating organizations would develop local railway technology and the production of rails and personnel that could serve the growth of railways in the future, he said.

“Thailand is investing in railways including electric railways and high-speed ones,” Mr Suvit said.

Sorapong Paitoonphong, director-general of the Department of Rail Transport, said the cooperation was aimed at increasing the proportion of local railway materials needed in railway projects to 40% in three years. The expanded content would be worth about 7 billion baht.

“Today Thailand can produce transmission and brake systems as well as equipment inside trains and the State Railway of Thailand started to order locally made freight cars,” he said.

The development would expand related industries including the steel industry and the use of local materials would cut railway maintenance costs which required 9.6 billion baht per year presently. The cost would exceed 15 billion baht a year in the future, Mr Sorapong said.

The local content development could also help reduce train fares for people, he added.

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GWM Will use Thailand As Export Base

BANGKOK (TNA) The secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BoI) said that Great Wall Motors (GWM) of China that will take over the plant of General Motors (GM) in Rayong province will product vehicles with higher technology and use Thailand as a base for exports to Southeast Asia and Australia.

BoI secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit sent her message via the Facebook page, BoI News, referring to the report of GM’s plan to stop producing Chevrolet vehicles in Thailand and sell its plant in Rayong to GWM this year.

GWM would expand its investment in Thailand and use the country as its base for exports to Southeast Asian nations and Australia. “There will be investment in Thailand. Workers will be employed and the personnel of the company will be trained to improve their skills,” Ms Duangjai said.

She assured that BoI would cooperate with both companies to make the transition smooth and develop industries in Thailand, especially the automotive industry that would apply higher technology to produce modern vehicles.

Ms Duangjai said that in Thailand GWM would produce 100,000 pickup trucks, sports utility vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) per year. Half the outputs will be exported to many destinations including Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. She expected GWM production to start in the first quarter of 2022. (TNA)

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NESDB projects 1.5-2.5% economic growth this year

BANGKOK (NNT) - Following on from last year, the Thai economy has already suffered from many negative impacts such as the ongoing trade war, national drought disaster, and the appreciating Thai baht, all of which has resulted in only 2.4 percent economic growth. This year, the country’s economy is facing another big concern from the COVID-19 virus situation. With help from the government’s economic measures, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) is expecting the Thai economy this year to grow just 1.5-2.5 percent.

The NESDB Secretary General Tossaporn Sirisamphan has released the Q4 2019 Thai economic report showing 1.6 percent growth, which is the lowest in 21 quarters. The performance of the final quarter, means 2019 economic growth of 2.4 percent overall.

The NESDB cited the global economic slowdown, the U.S.-China trade war, strong Thai currency, budget bill delays, and the drought disaster to be the main affecting factors.

This year, the NESDB is projecting 1.5-2.5 percent growth, which has been reduced from the previous 2.7-3.7 percent estimate. This is due to the effects of the COVID-19 virus expected to remove at least 150 billion baht’s revenue from the tourism industry, should the situation be under control by March. Drought disaster and government budget delays also play their part. The slowly recovering global economy and trade are expected to provide a positive push as the U.S.-China trade war is slowly resolving itself, and Brexit concerns are more relaxed. These aspects are expected to help the export sector grow by 1.4 percent.

Internal factors, resulting from the government’s economic measures and investments are expected to help propel the economy, with government investments expected to grow at 3.5 percent, and private investments expected to grow at 3.6 percent. Household consumption is also expected to grow as well.

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Thailand considers CPTPP membership

BANGKOK (NNT) - The International Economic Policy Committee has held a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to consider the pros and cons of Thailand joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as gathering public input. Outcomes from this meeting will be proposed to the Cabinet for consideration within this April.

The Department of Trade Negotiations’ (DTN) Director General Auramon Supthaweethum, said today that as a member of the CPTPP, Thailand may gain an additional 0.12 percent GDP growth worth 13 billion baht, however Thailand may lose 0.25 percent economic growth if it chooses not to join the partnership, resulting in a loss of about 26 billion baht.

She said the CPTPP will provide opportunities for Thai products to hit new markets in countries without existing FTA agreement with Thailand, such as Canada and Mexico, while certain products such as rice, rubber, canned pineapple, vehicles, and electronic appliances would benefit from the new partnership.

The DTN is collecting related information to propose to the Cabinet for consideration before this April, which should allow enough time for the government to prepare should it decide to move forward with CPTPP negotiations, at a ministerial meeting of member states scheduled for August.

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New Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce head outlines policies

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - The new President of the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, is promoting a policy supporting joint investment, connecting the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). He has expressed confidence that Chinese investment in Thailand will grow, as the chamber is preparing measures to aid businesses impacted by the new coronavirus.

The 27th Chairman of the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said today that he intends to elevate relations between the two countries, especially in terms of trade and investment, and wants to link the EEC in Thailand and China’s BRI. Mr. Narongsak said he will support investment through Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and voiced confidence investment by China in Thailand will increase this year, noting his chamber will discuss clarification of foreign investment regulations with the government.

On the impact of the coronavirus, Mr. Narongsak said the epidemic will weigh on the Thai economy during the first two quarters, especially on the tourism sector. One in four travelers to Thailand is from China, or about 42 million people. Nonetheless, he said Thailand will be able to handle the situation, pointing out infection rates in the kingdom have already begun to drop. He believes however, that it will take three to four months to fully recover from the effects of the virus.

Despite China being Thailand’s second largest destination for exports, accounting for 904 billion baht in 2019, or 11.8% of total export value, Mr. Narongsak said the coronavirus will have little impact. He also believes the tourism sector will recover quickly from this situation.

The chamber is now preparing measures to aid businesses impacted by the virus and is coordinating with exporters with stock pending export, so that shipments can be made to China. New markets are also being sought to further aid operators.

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Online mask sales under control

NONTHABURI (TNA) -- The Commerce Ministry convened online shopping operators of Lazada, Shopee and jd.com sites and urged them to control the prices of face masks sold on their platforms.

Commerce permanent secretary Bunyarit Kallayanamit said the operators were told to control the prices of face masks made available on their platforms by vendors and the operators were cooperative.

The operators would first issue warnings to the vendors of overpriced masks and later remove defiant vendors from their websites. The measure would start on Feb 12, Mr Bunyarit said.

He said that the measure also covered the vendors who sold face masks via Facebook.

The Commerce Ministry had prosecuted 18 vendors mainly for overpriced masks, Mr Bunyarit said.

Earlier the Internal Trade Department started to check the prices, sales, stocks, imports and exports of face masks and asked stores to limit the amounts of mask sold to individual buyers to ensure face masks would be available for everyone, he said.

Besides, face masks were distributed to 800 Pracharat stores nationwide as well as to stores in areas of high demand to guarantee the availability, Mr Bunyarit said. (TNA)

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Electric motorcycles boom last year

BANGKOK (TNA) -- The number of registered electric motorcycles in Thailand soared by 12 times to 5,020 last year.

The Next Generation Automotive Research Center reported that the registered electric motorcycles comprised 4,229 hybrid electric vehicles and 791 battery electric vehicles.

In December last year 305 HEV motorcycles and 57 BEV motorcycles were registered thanks to special promotions for teachers from a maker.

In December last year motorcycle production in Thailand rose by 7% year on year due to the production of commuter motorcycles and sports motorcycles with engine capacities of over 400cc which rose near the end of last year

On a yearly basis, motorcycle production was lower than expected and motorcycle sales dropped by 17% because drought weakened farmers’ purchasing power. The decline was obvious with commuter motorcycles. Meanwhile, the sales of motorcycles with engine capacities of 251-399cc were growing steadily as they were gaining popularity among buyers.

Motorcycle exports by volume declined by 3% from the previous year because exporters shifted from small motorcycles to big ones. Their exports by value almost doubled.

Last year motorcycle production fell by 6% to 1.95 million. Local sales dropped 4% to 1.72 million. Export volume decreased 2% to 364,050 units but value rose 26% to US$1.7 billion.

The Federation of Thai Industries predicted motorcycle production would reach 2.1 million this year, rising by 8%. Local sales were estimated at 1.7 million units, down 1% due to economic problems, and exports should go up by 10% to 400,000 units thanks to the popularity of big bikes.


TCG to help guarantee 80,000 new SMEs this year

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - In an effort to help SMEs have better access to capital, the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) is this year offering credit guarantees of some 150 billion baht in loans taken out by new SMEs from financial institutions, as well as providing a refinance service for SMEs in trouble.

TCG’s President Rak Vorrakitpokatorn announced today the TCG had set a 150 billion baht credit guarantee target to help some 83,500 new SMEs. The figures are based on an extension of the existing SMEs credit guarantee campaign with a 60 billion baht credit limit.

The TCG aims to help SMEs facing financial trouble to refinance, offering them a chance to continue their business activities through an extension of the payback deadline, and payment postponement. These services will, for the first time ever, be offered to clients with an overdue payback record.

SMEs currently holding credit guarantees in the PGS5 and PGS7 campaigns will have their credit guarantee extended for 5 more years, within the 70 billion baht credit limit. There are currently 5,000 TCG clients in both campaigns waiting for approval of their loans, worth some 12.5 billion baht in total.

Since January, the TCG has helped delay the loan payback deadline and refinancing of non-performing loans for 11,400 SMEs, worth 18 billion baht in total. The campaign helps businesses maintain better financial fluidity, by significantly reducing monthly payments, such as from 500,000 baht to 150,000 baht per month.

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Thailand seeks to regaining role as world’s largest rice exporter

BANGKOK (NNT) - After losing the number one global rice exporter position for three years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has met with related agencies and rice exporters to find measures to reclaim the top spot.

Speaking after a meeting with representatives from the Rice Department, the Department of Foreign Trade, the Rice Exporters Association of Thailand and rice sellers, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Praphat Phothasoothon said the agencies and companies have agreed to solve some cumulative issues in rice exports, as Thailand currently does not produce new rice varieties which are currently in demand in the global market.

The country’s rice exports have seen stronger competition from Vietnam and Cambodia, with Myanmar expected to be even more competitive in the future. This situation has lowered the usual 10 million annual tons of rice exports from Thailand to only 7.5 million last year.

Most Thai rice varieties are white, hard rice which are not in demand in foreign countries. Related departments will be working to improve the varieties to meet customer demand.

At this meeting, related departments have been assigned to formulate a drought response and rice farm zoning plan, to be completed in two weeks, and to be implemented in the next farming season starting around May. The Rice Department has been assigned to speed up research into new rice varieties, in addition to the varieties recently introduced, in order to meet the fast changing consumer demands. These research projects will receive government funding.

For areas that are not suitable for rice farming, the Department of Livestock Development will be holding a 3-year occupational promotion campaign. This will help reduce the overall number of rice farms in the country, to prevent oversupply, which affects the price.

Soft rice grains are now in more demand by global customers, such as the PSL 07023-CNT-18-2-1-3 variety, which is being planted in a pilot project by farmers in Phichit.


BOT cuts interest rate to record-low 1%

BANGKOK (TNA) - To cope with economic woes including the new coronavirus outbreak, Thailand’s central bank cuts its policy rate to 1 percent, the lowest since 2000.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Thailand (BOT) decided to lower the benchmark rate at its first meeting of 2020 on Wednesday.

MPC Secretary Titanun Mallikamas said the committee members voted unanimously to cut the policy rate by 0.25 percentage point from 1.25 to 1.00 percent effective immediately.

The MPC viewed that the economy faced downside risks from the coronavirus outbreak, the delayed budget disbursement and the drought that could be more severe than previously assessed, Titinun said.

Trade tensions and geopolitical risks also contributed to high uncertainty affecting Thai economic outlook this year, added Titinun.

The impacts of the coronavirus outbreak would be significant in the first half of this year as it affected the country’s tourism industry, leading the MPC to predict much lower GDP growth than previously forecast at 2.8 percent, he said.

Visitors from China, the biggest source of tourists in Thailand, increased by 4.4% to 10.99 million last year.

The Committee’s decision was an accommodative monetary policy stance that would alleviate the negative impacts, said Titinun. (TNA)


Face masks, hand sanitizersput on price-control list

BANGKOK (TNA) - Face masks and hand sanitisers will be put on Thailand’s list of controlled products, effective on Thursday.

The Ministry of Commerce’s proposal has been approved by the cabinet which will, among others, limit the export volume of the products and require sellers and manufacturers to report their supplies.

On Wednesday, ministry officials called a meeting with major retailers to inform them of new measures deriving from the decision and assess the shortage situation.  The retailers were asked to limit purchase of face masks at no more than 10 per person.

So far, the ministry has received about 1,200 complaints about shortages of face masks.  Members of the public are able to report hoarding and overpricing of the products to the Ministry.

After the listing, export of over 500 pieces of face masks must be permitted by the Ministry.  Thailand exported 220 million face masks last year.(TNA)


DPM Somkid asks GSB to help indebted govt employees

BANGKOK (NNT) - The government is pursuing its goal to assist indebted government employees whose debts now amount to 1 trillion baht in total. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has ordered the Government Savings Bank (GSB) and Bank of Thailand to offer assistance measures such as payment reductions and refinancing. More details of these measures are expected to be available in 1-2 weeks

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has delivered policies to GSB executives on the transformation of the bank into a socially-conscious financial institution, which offers help to all people.

The DPM stressed the necessity to solve debt issues among government employees, saying the GSB should work with the Bank of Thailand to adopt feasible measures that help releive the financial burden faced by government employees, to help them have a better quality of life.

The GSB President and CEO Chatchai Payuhanaveechai said today the bank has offered loans to 1.18 million government employees, worth in total 629 billion baht. These loans were mostly taken out by civil servants at the Ministry of Education at 41 percent, or about 400 billion baht. The total debt owed by government employees is some 1 trillion baht.

The GSB will be working to promote financial discipline among its clients, pushing back payment deadlines and reducing the interest late. Refinance will be offered to Non Performing Loan clients to improve their situation. These measures are now being studied, and will be proposed to the Ministry of Finance for further consideration within 1-2 weeks. The measures will be officially introduced and implemented this year in March.

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Budget bill delay lowers consumer confidence

BANGKOK (NNT) Concerns regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak and the delay of the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget bill, are the main factors causing a fall in consumer confidence, according to UTCC survey, making the January 2020 index hit 69-month low.

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) President Thanawat Polvichai has revealed that the January 2020 consumer confidence index released by the university’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting (CEBF) was 67.3, showing 11 consecutive months of recession.

The CEBF’s evaluation shows concerns about the outbreak of novel coronavirus are affecting the people’s livelihood, business operations, and the national economy, especially in the tourism sector; while the delay in passing the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget bill may affect planned disbursement schedules, which would inhibit new investment projects from effectively stimulating the economy.

The forecasting center expects that concerns over the noval coronavirus will continue to lessen consumer confidence. The center is however retaining a national economic growth projection of 2.8 percent, despite many challenges such as the coronavirus outbreak, global economic slowdown, and the government budget delay.

The Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee today decided to further adjust the policy interest rate downwards by 0.25 percent, meaning the current policy rate has now dropped to 1 percent annually due to the prospect of lower than expected economic growth this year.

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Finance Min to implement measures to mitigate effects of coronavirus

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Cabinet has approved the Ministry of Finance’s proposal to introduce monetary and tax-related assistance policies to mitigate the side effects of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in China, that has caused a tremor in global public health and the world economy.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance, Lavaron Sangsnit said today that the measures include extending the deadline for the paying of taxes from March to June, doubling the tax reduction on expenses incurred in organizing a seminar in Thailand this year, and reducing the rate of excise tax on jet fuel.

He said the policy also offers an extension of the debt payment period of state banks such as the Government Savings Bank, SME Development Bank, Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, and Government Housing Bank.

The Ministry expects these measures will stimulate the Thai tourism economy amid the coronavirus outbreak, by increasing liquidity and easing the financial burden of entrepreneurs and members of the public, while also providing assistance to the tourism and aviation industries.


BGRIM CEO Wins Best CEO Award in Energy and Best Power Plant Project Developer

BANGKOK (NNT) - Mrs.Preeyanat Soonthornwat (3rd from left), CEO of B.grimm Power Public Company Limited (BGRIM), has been awarded the Best CEO in Energy Sector and the Best Power Plant Project Developer – Solar for Phu Yen TTP Joint Stock Company’s power plant project in the International Finance Utility Awards 2019 organized by Global business and finance magazine “International Finance at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok Hotel

The Best CEO in Energy Sector award is the best award given to the CEO of an energy business organization the has outstanding leadership in the organization for international success.


Thai stocks to fluctuate in February due to Coronavirus Impact

BANGKOK (TNA) - Thai stocks will fluctuate in February as an impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak, says an analyst.

KTB Securities Thailand’s Executive Chairman Win Udomrachtavanich said he predicts continued downward trend this month.

But SET index, the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s key index, would not hit a slump given strong liquidity and low policy interest rate, he predicted.

Compared to the outbreaks of MERS and SARS in the past, the stock market was under pressures for about two to three months, he said.

Not only coronavirus outbreak, the Thai economy also faces many uncertainties such as those arising from drought problem, government budget delay.

The SET index fell almost 100 points in January after reaching its record high at 1,604.28.

Many expect the new coronavirus is expected to have a wide-reaching impact on the Thai economy; not just tourism but also manufacturing, exports, retail and agricultural sectors.

 


4th-phase cash giveaway to help tourism planned

PHATTHALUNG (TNA) -- The government will launch its fourth-stage cash giveaway measure to boost domestic tours as the novel coronavirus heavily reduces the number of visitors to the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said that the new cash giveaway measure would be submitted to the cabinet for approval tomorrow to encourage Thai people to travel in the country while foreign tourists were not paying a visit.

He said that Thailand was facing severely negative economic factors including the novel coronavirus outbreak, global economic problems and its delayed 2020 budget.

Apart from the local tourism promotion measure, Thailand would have to take good care of Chinese tourists’ feelings so that they would return when the viral outbreak was alleviated, the deputy prime minister said.

He also said that foreign investors were still confident of Thai economic potential and if the present baht value was maintained and the trade war between China and the United States was relieved, Thai exports would pick up.

Mr Somkid urged government and opposition parties to join forces to solve economic problems. He said people warmly welcomed the politicians who could solve economic problems regardless of their political parties. (TNA)

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Economic ministers meeting issues measures to cope with coronavirus

BANGKOK (NNT) - The latest economic ministers meeting chaired by Prime Minister/Defense Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has issued two measures to support the tourist industry and cope with the effects of coronavirus infections from the beginning of this month.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yutthasak Supasorn, said today the urgent measure which is being implemented from February to April calls for the creation of understanding with members of the public and tourists that the Thai people are a top priority, while alerts and information are being provided to tourists, with an upgraded One Stop Service for them as well as assistance for tour business operators, and a search for alternative tourist markets.

The long-term measure which will be implemented from May calls for the setting up of an original Ease of Traveling Committee to make preparations for tourists after the situation has returned to normal.

Kobsak Pootrakul, a deputy secretary general to the prime minister, said assistance for tour business operators will initially be provided by the Ministry of Finance with low-interest loans and extended repayments while local administrative organizations will organize seminars in the provinces to stimulate domestic tourism and introduce a tax cut for airline fuel.

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Aid planned for virus-affected tour operators

BANGKOK (TNA) -- The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) discussed the impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak on tourism and planned assistance for affected operators.

TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn had the discussion with representatives of airlines, the Thai Hotels Association, the Association of Thai Travel Agents, and the Tourism Council of Thailand at the TAT head office.

After the meeting, he said that the Chinese government’s decision to ban the outbound traffic of Chinese tour groups caused the complete cancellation of hotel reservations by Chinese tour groups and the reservations by independent Chinese travelers were halved. The TAT governor predicted the number of Chinese arrivals would fall by 1.89-2.0 million.

Mr Yuthasak said TAT would try to woo tourists from other markets instead, for example, from Southeast Asian nations, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the United States and Canada. He said the alternative markets had potential.

Besides, TAT would ask the Finance Ministry to cut fuel tax for airlines, offer soft loans to affected operators, reduce the passenger facility charge for visitors from the alternative markets, extend visa-on-arrival fee exemption for visitors from India, Russia and China to the end of this year.
Mr Yuthasak would propose the measures to the cabinet on Jan 31.

He still believed that Thailand would welcome 40.78 million visitors and generate 2.03 trillion baht, up 5% year-on-year, from their arrivals this year as earlier expected. He estimated the overall tourism-related income at 3.16 trillion baht. (TNA)

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Finance Ministry projects 2.8% GDP growth this year

BANGKOK (TNA) --The Finance Ministry revises its economic growth prediction downwards from 3.3% to 2.8% this year due mainly to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Finance Ministry spokesman LavaronSangsnit said the outbreak affected tourism as the global economic growth slowed down to 3.1%. However, the ministry still believed that the gross domestic product growth would be better than 2.5% last year.

The coronavirus outbreak added to negative factors like economic slowdowns in the United States, Japan, Vietnam and China, he said.

According to Mr Lavaron, the number of visitors will be declining in the next three months, from the normal level of 800,000 a month. Usually visitors spend 50,000 baht each a month. To cope, the Finance Ministry will work out measures to stimulate domestic tours.

Besides, the government is preparing its investment projects so that they can start right when the 2020 budget bill is legalized. Government investment would boost investment in the private sector, MrLavaron said.

For exports, the Finance Ministry saw a growth pace of 1% this year, compared with a 3.2% decline last year, he said.

MrLavaron said important factors were the coronavirus, the Chinese economy, trade negotiation between China and the United States, Brexit, interest rates in developed countries and investment in the private sector.

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Private sector sees lower GDP growth

BANGKOK (TNA) -- The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking will revise its projection of the gross domestic product (GDP) growth downwards due to many factors including the novel coronavirus.

Representing the committee, Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the committee was likely to revise the 2020 projection downwards from its previous range of 2.5-3% because the economy was facing the virus outbreak, drought, national budget delay, smog and strong baht.

However, he said that the Thai Chamber of Commerce had confidence in the government's measures to cope with the viral outbreak and it was communicating the government's guidelines to prevent the disease transmission to its members. He praised hoteliers for screening their customers for the disease in many provinces.

Mr Kalin urged the government to supply enough products to help control the disease such as face masks, tissue paper and hand wash gel for target groups including young children and elderly people in slum communities as well as passengers at bus and boat terminals. (TNA)

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Thai AirAsia affected by New Coronavirus

BANGKOK (TNA) – The novel coronavirus outbreak takes its toll on airlines as Thai AirAsia projects a three-per cent loss of revenue in the first quarter of this year from a drop in passenger number by about 300,000.

Santisuk Klongchaiya, chief executive of Thai AirAsia (TAA) said the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak prompted the airline to suspend three daily direct flights to Wuhan and the Chinese government also ordered travel agencies to suspend tours to contain virus outbreak.

These factors are likely to cause a drop in passenger number by 200,000 in the first quarter and by about 300,000 persons, including charter flights.

To create confidence among its passengers, Thai AirAsia has adopted measures to ensure their safety by implementing thermal screening for passengers, departing from China and Thailand and its aircraft are fitted with HEPA Filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter), said Santisuk.             

He said he believed that the new coronavirus outbreak would only have a short –term impact and the state and private sectors could have tourism stimulus plans to draw Chinese tourists back to Thailand after the situation eases.

In the meantime, the airline eyes other travel routes to replace Chinese markets and offset its loss. Destinations in southern Japan such as Fukuoka have good potential and quite popular among Thai tourists. Japanese people from this region are also interested to travel to Thailand, he added. (TNA)

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Bangkok sees sharp decline in Chinese tourists

BANGKOK (TNA) - The number of Chinese tourists at popular tourist spots in Bangkok has decreased by half due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

According to officials at Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Arun temple in Bangkok, much fewer tourists from China who are normally the largest group to visit showed up on Monday.

Since the new strain of coronavirus was reported, most of Chinese group tours to Thailand have been cancelled.

A Thai tour guide said his Chinese tour group of 50 tourists visiting the Temple of the Emerald Buddha was from Shanghai; all arrived in Thailand last week.

All of the group members had gone through a health procedure that has been in place at Suvarnabhumi Airport since January 3.  Tour operators had been instructed to monitor their clients of any flu-like symptoms and fever, he said.

The tour guide said his tour company had suspended services to Chinese tourists.

Revenue loss from suspensions for tour services to Chinese people has been estimated at over THB10 billion, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand. (TNA)


PM wishes for 4% GDP growth

BANGKOK (TNA) -- Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wishes the economy will grow by at least 4% this year although the novel coronavirus outbreak is affecting tourism.
Gen Prayut voiced his expectation while opening the new head office of the Federation of Thai Industries at Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep.
Although the world economy was slowing down, the Thai economy should be better than last year and he wished to see the growth pace of at least 4%, Gen Prayut said.

The prime minister said his government had measures to cope with the viral outbreak that was affecting tourism.
During the opening ceremony, Gen Prayut said he planned to form a committee to receive proposals from FTI and the government would develop the proposals to enhance the potential of Thai industries.
He suggested industrialists take baht appreciation as an opportunity to import machinery to improve their businesses.
The new office of FTI covers 5,000 square meters. Founded 53 years ago, FTI intends to promote Thai industries and economy. Its services cover 45 industrial clubs, 74 provincial branches, 11 industrial clusters and over 11,000 members. (TNA)


DPM Somkid to visit India to boost bilateral trade

(NNT) Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is scheduled to visit India this year to continue boosting bilateral trade and investment. He said during his meeting with India's ambassador to Thailand, SuchitraDurai, that both Thailand and India have high potential to increase collaboration, especially on the economic front.


DPM Somkid orders Krungthai Bank to help SMEs, government employees

BANGKOK (NNT) - Krungthai Bank has been a major driver in the digital transformation of the Thai economy and the government’s economic campaigns. As it is a major financial institution under government supervision, Deputy Prime Minister SomkidJatusripitak has ordered the bank to offer special campaigns for SMEs and address government employees’ debt issues to stimulate the economy.

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During his visit to Krungthai Bank headquarters, Deputy Prime Minister SomkidJatusripitak directed Krungthai Bank to offer special loans to SMEs, which will help by adding more cash to the economy during the slowdown and amidst uncertainties from the delayed 2020 Fiscal Year budget bill. He also urged the bank to take special measures to help government employees facing debt issues, which has long been a priority of the Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The DPM asked the bank to consider offering mutual refinance options together with the Government Savings Bank, the Government Housing Bank, and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, and to consider reducing the interest rate.

Krungthai Bank President PayongSrivanich, said today it is unlikely the bank can drop the interest rate in general as the rate corresponds to the Bank of Thailand’s policy rate, and the current market cash flow is quite tight.

He said however that the bank has been offering loans for SMEs at reduced interest rate, while the suggested refinancing options for government employees must depend on further discussions with other government banks.
 


Thai Industries Sentiment Index in December dropped to 91.7

BANGKOK (TNA) -The Thai Industries Sentiment Index (TISI) in December dropped to 91.7, wilting under pressure from the global economic fluctuations, drought situation and strong baht. 

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Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman SupantMongkolsuthree reported on Wednesday the TISI survey which involved companies in several industries.

He said the private companies were worried about the lower domestic demands stemming drought-effect on agricultural products.

External economic situations and baht appreciation had also limited the country's exports, he said.

The TISI in December stood at 91.7 points, down from 92.3 in November.  

Looking ahead, the FTI predicted the TISI to reach 100.1 points over the next three months, given other risks pressuring economic sentiment.

Suphant said the FTI recommend the government to speedily implement measures to battle drought. (TNA) 

 


GH Bank to comply with BOT’s new regulations to help home buyers

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has announced its decision to ease mortgage lending rules to help first-hand and used home buyers seek loans. The decision came into effect on Jan 20.

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The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 100% remains unchanged for buyers of homes worth less than 10 million baht, but they can borrow an extra 10% of the collateral value. For buyers of homes valued at more than 10 million baht, they can now make a down-payment of at least 10%, down from the previous 20%.

Buyers of second houses worth less than 10 million baht can make a down-payment of 10%, if the mortgage on the first home has been paid off for at least two years. The previous requirement was three years. The BOT has adjusted its funding regulations to help people who want to seek more loans to buy houses priced below 10 million baht and those who wish to borrow to build houses on legal land.

The President of the Government Housing (GH) Bank, ChatchaiSirilai, said today his bank is ready to comply with the BOT’s new regulations to help people who want to own their own home, especially low and middle-income owners as well as civil servants. The new regulations will benefit buyers of homes worth less than 10 million baht, and they can borrow an extra 10% of collateral value for the purchase of furniture. Previously, a buyer of a house worth 1 million baht could borrow no more than 900,000 baht. Under the new regulations, the lending ceiling is raised to 1.1 million baht


Exports to Middle East performing well

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Ministry of Commerce reports that the value of Thai goods exported to the Middle East has continued to grow for a second month at 2.9 percent, with health products being the most popular item. However, the ministry has suggested exporters carefully manage risks presented by exchange rate fluctuations.s.

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The Department of International Trade Promotion’s (DITP) Director General SomdetSusomboon, revealed today that the Middle East has become an important market for Thai exports, despite tension in the Gulf of Persia. Fresh and processed farm products, food, motor vehicles, and air conditioners now have great sales potential in this market, as trading partner countries such as Qatar and Bahrain are confident of the quality of Thai products, and have placed successive orders.

Key products exhibiting growth include vehicles and parts, air conditioning units, white sugar, processed seafood, and computers. Processed seafood from Thailand is of particular interest to many countries including those of the Middle East, along with health products which have proven to be popular in this region.n.

The DITP chief has suggested exporters be cautious of risks in currency exchange rates and increasing fuel prices. Exporters can seek more information by visiting the DITP website www.ditp.go.th, or calling the DITP hotline 1169.


Finance Minister: Budget bill to solve economic issues, reduce inequality

BANGKOK (NNT) - A Senate meeting was held today to deliberate the government’s budget bill for the fiscal year of 2020. The Finance Minister, UttamaSavanayana, said the budget bill will help address economic issues, reduce inequality and create a foundation that is fair and accountable.

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At the Senate meeting, the Finance Minister explained that the government drafted the budget bill in accordance with the national strategy, the economic development plan, the national reform plan and the national security policy. The bill integrates all functions of different ministries and agencies, strategically and operationally, to prevent budget misuse and redundancy.

The budget bill was drafted to steer the government’s work, so that the country will advance and the objectives will be met. This is an important stage for Thailand while it elevates its potential and reduces inequality and poverty comprehensively. The country will be able to respond to global changes.

Initially, 40 legislators signed up to take part in the budget bill debate. The Senate is required to approve or disapprove the bill within 20 days, starting January 13, according to Section 143 of the Thai constitution. The debate will be held until February 1, 2020.


SET promotes SMEs, startup fundraising via capital market

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) is pursuing its initiative to encourage SMEs and startup businesses to raise funds via the capital market, expecting general investment this year to be challenged by external factors, urging investors to properly manage the risks.

SET President PakornPeetathawatchai said the SET aims to promote balanced growth due to technological changes in the capital market this year, by streamlining its services at One-Stop Service points for registered companies, as well as providing opportunities in Thailand and abroad through capital market connections with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The SET will be urging SMEs and startup companies to raise finds via capital markets, and improve regulations to provide better ease of doing businesses.

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He said the overall investment scene in Thailand’s stock exchanges and capital markets will be subject to external challenges and fluctuations, such as the trade policies of major countries, central bank’s monetary policies, and international conflicts. Investors are advised to manage their risk my investing in more diverse assets, and adopt short and long term investment plans.

Stock markets of Thailand last year had an average daily trading figure at 53 billion baht, which resulted in the highest fluidity in ASEAN. Trade figures via TFEX have the average daily value of 430,000 contracts, which is the 26th biggest in the world. The IPO offers by Asset World Corporation to the general public, has broken a new record in Thailand of 380 billion baht, making it the largest funding by a real asset company in the world in the past 5 years.


BGRIM-Energy China Consortium to build the World’s Largest Hydro- Floating Solar Hybrid Project for EGAT

BANGKOK (NNT) - B.GRIMM POWER – ENERGY CHINA CONSORTIUM consists of B.Grimm Power Plc (BGRIM) together with China Energy Engineering Group Shanxi Electric Power Engineering Co., Ltd. (Energy China) have signed a EPC contract to build the World’s largest hydro-floating solar hybrid project for the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

Under the Power Development Plan B.E. 2561-2580 (PDP2018), the first Hydro-Floating Solar Hybrid Project has been implemented by EGAT at Sirindhorn Dam. B.GRIMM POWER – ENERGY CHINA CONSORTIUM as selected bidder with the deal worth over 842 million baht, will construct and install a 45-MW Solar Power Plant on water surface combines with existing Hydropower of EGAT.

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Implementing this Project is an important co-friendly energy scheme that will encourage and strengthen the kingdom’s security of power supply.

EGAT’s Director Gen.SomsakRungsita Deputy Permanent Secretary for Defence representing EGAT Board of Directors presided over the signing ceremony which was inked by Mr.ThepparatTheppitak, EGAT Deputy Governor (Power Plant Development and Renewable Energy), BGRIM Chairman Dr. Harald Link, BGRIM CEO Mrs. PreeyanartSoontornwata, and Mr. Wang Xinping, Chairman of Energy China at the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao Bangkok.

Gen.Somsak said the scheme of this Project creates synergy between solar and hydro power, representing an important step in the development of green energy in Thailand and resolve an uncertain electricity supply from renewable energy.

This Project’s development is consistent with the government’s policy to support electricity production from renewable energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation according to the current Power Development Plan of Thailand (PDP2018).

Mr.Thepparat said that the Hybrid Hydro- Floating Solar for Sirindhorn Dam combine with solar power plant generate power from sunlight during the day along with hydropower controlling power output by the Energy Management System (EMS) allow continuous generation of electricity which will enhance reliability of the country’s overall power supply.

In the future, an energy storage system would potentially be applied with the project to increase more reliable for renewable energy production.n.

The solar panels selected for the Project are crystalline double glass module which is suitable for being installed on the surface of the water, also the solar panels, inverters and cables will be installed on HDPE plastic floating platform, with UV resistance ability, eco-friendly which is not dangerous to the environment and aquatic animals. The project will be installed cover the surface area over 450 rai with low cost of investment by sharing facilities with the existing transmission system, transformers, and high voltage substations etc.

The Project is expected to complete with 12 months from now and commercial operation date (COD) being set in December 2020.

BGRIM Chairman, Dr. Link said that entering into this contract marks another milestone for BGRIM to demonstrate its potential in engaging all dimensions of energy development.

He noted that the Hydro-Floating Solar Hybrid Project at Sirindhorn Dam is regarded as a major step in the development of renewable energy in Thailand.

It also enables BGRIM to increase the potential and standards in the development of robust renewable energy business and serving government’s policies as well. Our participation in this Project will opens up opportunities other floating solar projects.

In partnership with a global partner, Energy China, as one of the world’s largest comprehensive energy solutions and a major state owned- conglomerate of the People Republic of China which has high potential and cost-effective advantages in procurement, providing with highest standard of engineering and of construction. We, the Consortium, confident that the project will achieve COD with international benchmark, Dr Link added.d.
 


Chinese New Year spending expected to decline

BANGKOK (TNA) - Consumer spending during the Chinese New Year is expected to contract for the first time in 12 years, says the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).

UTCC President ThanavathPholvichai said the university’s latest survey showed that Thai people were concerned over economic uncertainties and had decided to cut their Chinese New Year spending.

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Thais are expected to spend 57.6 billion baht, down 1.3% from the previous year, according to the survey.

Consumers anticipated further economic slowdown, negative results of drought and hazardous smog, he said, therefore they were more cautious about spending and travelling.

MrThanavath said such consumer behaviors could be described as “gloomy and unpleasant:” a big task for the government to address.(TNA)


Thailand, India reach trade agreements worth over THB2.78 billionon

 

INDIA (TNA) - Thai and Indian business operators have reached trade agreements worth over THB2.78 billion during a high-level visit led by Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce JurinLaksanawisit to Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

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Jurin revealed on Sunday, the last day of his five-day visit to India, that Thai private companies and their Indian counterparts successfully agreed on trade deals in business-matching events in the two cities.

Private sector representatives from over 80 Thai companies took part in the tour to Bengaluru and Hyderabad to expand trade opportunities and boost export.

It is one of the India visits organized by the International Trade Promotion Department after sending a trade delegation to Mumbai and Chennai in September last year.

The Ministry of Commerce under Jurin has consistently looked for new markets to replace current export markets during a global economic slowdown.

Jurin said he held talks with Indian officials on a proposal to establish a goods distribution center in Chennai.

His proactive policy set up ambitious plan to penetrate markets of Indian states – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Talangana, New Delhi, West Bengal and the northeast states.(TNA) 


OSMEP says Thai SMEs to grow in 2020

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Office of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotions (OSMEP) has reported that the Thai economy is showing positive signs in early 2020, as startup entrepreneurs are learning ways to apply innovations and technology to enhance their business operations. The acting Director-General of the OSMEP, WimonkanKosumas, said today her agency expected the country’s economic growth to be 2.7 to 3.2% this year, while Thai SMEs are expected to grow 3.0 to 3.5%, thanks to the government’s economic stimulus measures and major infrastructure investments. Tourism and e-commerce are also expected to grow this year.

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Risk factors for Thai SMEs include the global economic slowdown, the trade war between the United States and China, the baht’s appreciation, the high level of household debt and the problem of financial accessibility. However, businesses are adapting to the digital economy by creating new products, and this is a positive sign.

This year, the OSMEP continues to focus on equipping new entrepreneurs with greater knowledge on utilizing innovations and technology to strengthen their operations. The agency will also help Micro SMEs raise the quality standards of their products and services and use technology to expand their businesses. The OSMEP plans to increase the competency of some 380,000 SMEs this year.

The situation in the Middle East has affected some sectors, but demand for Thai SMEs’ food and consumer products is still high. The OSMEP is closely monitoring the situation in the Middle East.


BOT orders banks to revise interest rates

BANGKOK (NNT) - Good news for the general public and SMEs as the Bank of Thailand (BOT) has ordered commercial banks to revise their interest rates, and the fees they charge for their financial products and services including ATM and debit card fees, to help reduce the burden borne by customers.

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The BOT now recommends commercial banks impose advance refinance fees on personal loans, with SME loans to be based on the remaining loan balance, as opposed to the entire loan amount, as well as offering a period of grace where fees are not imposed.

As for housing loans, SME loans, and personal loans, the interest rates for default cases will now be calculated on the amount due, as opposed to the remaining loan balance. A period of Grace will be offered to customers facing extraordinary circumstances. These new interest rate guidelines are effective from now until 31st December 2021.

Banks are now required to return customers annual ATM and debit card fees in cases of cancellation, by refunding the unused portion of the fee based on the time of year in all cases. With the issuance of replacement cards or pins, no fee should be collected unless there are significant costs associated with the replacement. This directive is effective indefinitely.

BOT Governor VeerathaiSantiprabhob said today the change in guidelines will help boost customer confidence in financial companies and the overall monetary system of the country. The Bank of Thailand will be asking the banks to revise their current interest rates and fees to reflect true costs, reduce the customers’ burden, reduce redundant fees, and fully disclose fees associated with other products and services.


 
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story] : 

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Thailand to Develop Local Railway Content, Personnel

GWM Will use Thailand As Export Base


NESDB projects 1.5-2.5% economic growth this year


Thailand considers CPTPP membership


New Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce head outlines policies

Online mask sales under control


Electric motorcycles boom last year


TCG to help guarantee 80,000 new SMEs this year

Thailand seeks to regaining role as world’s largest rice exporter


BOT cuts interest rate to record-low 1%

Face masks, hand sanitizersput on price-control list


DPM Somkid asks GSB to help indebted govt employees

Budget bill delay lowers consumer confidence


Finance Min to implement measures to mitigate effects of coronavirus


BGRIM CEO Wins Best CEO Award in Energy and Best Power Plant Project Developer


Thai stocks to fluctuate in February due to Coronavirus Impact

4th-phase cash giveaway to help tourism planned


Economic ministers meeting issues measures to cope with coronavirus


Aid planned for virus-affected tour operators

Finance Ministry projects 2.8% GDP growth this year

Private sector sees lower GDP growth


Thai AirAsia affected by New Coronavirus

Bangkok sees sharp decline in Chinese tourists

PM wishes for 4% GDP growth


DPM Somkidto visit India to boost bilateral trade

DPM Somkid orders Krungthai Bank to help SMEs, government employees

Thai Industries Sentiment Index in December dropped to 91.7


GH Bank to comply with BOT’s new regulations to help home buyers


Exports to Middle East performing well

Finance Minister: Budget bill to solve economic issues, reduce inequality

SET promotes SMEs, startup fundraising via capital market

BGRIM-Energy China Consortium to build the World’s Largest Hydro- Floating Solar Hybrid Project for EGAT

Chinese New Year spending expected to decline

Thailand, India reach trade agreements worth over THB2.78 billion


OSMEP says Thai SMEs to grow in 2020

BOT orders banks to revise interest rates