The Commerce Ministry plans to shift its focus away from traditional export markets where growth is slowing while becoming more active in new potential markets, especially Asean and other Asian countries, as it strives to reach this year's export-growth target of 15 per cent.
After an urgent meeting on export promotion, Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol said yesterday that the ministry would focus its marketing plan this year on new and emerging markets, while reducing some activities in economies experiencing slowdowns, including the European Union, the United States and Japan.
Defense & Security
Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa is expected to hold talks about Thai detainees with a high-ranking Myanmar official during his visit tto the country on Thursday.
He will fly to Yangon this evening to attend the SEA Games Federation Council meeting and is expected to hold talks with the Myanmar official in a sideline meeting.
Gen Yuthasak, assigned by the prime minister to welcome Myanmar President Thein Sein on his planned visit to Thailand on July 22, said he expected that progress in the case will certainly be seen this week.
Thailand will redeploy troops around Preah Vihear temple but will not withdraw them, Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat says. Commenting on a news report that Cambodia would announce a troop withdrawal, ACM Sukumpol said the move was not a withdrawal, but a redeployment. He said redeployment of Thai troops would be in line with the national defence plan or as required by the situation on the ground.
He and Second Army Region commander Lt Gen Jirasak Chomprasop would accompany Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Cambodia on Friday.
Thailand and Malaysia will convene the Second Working Group on Dual Citizenship at a mutually convenient time with a view to finding an acceptable solution on the issue that will contribute to the resolving of the situation in the southern border provinces.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and his Malaysian counterpart Dato’ Sri Anifah bin Haji Aman on 10 July 2012 discussed the issue of dual citizenship and reviewed the state of Thai-Malaysian relations.
Both sides also agreed to expedite the conclusion of pending agreements such as the Agreement on Border Crossing and the Memorandum of Understanding on Combating Human Trafficking.
The Royal Thai Army has signed documents to acquire two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters through the US government's Foreign Military Sales channel.
Upon delivery, Thailand will become the first Asean country to fly the very latest version of the Black Hawk helicopter operated by the United States Army.
Disaster & Flood Recovery
Countering allegations that a Bt350-billion flood and water-management project and its ongoing bidding process lacked transparency, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday she welcomed outside inspection of the plans, adding that the e-auction process had been open to all bidders and terms of reference (TOR) details had been made public.
She repeated a key principle of the government's policy - that foreign companies with expertise in the field were needed for long-term implementation of projects, along with consultancy and policy-making input in the future.
Five irrigation projects initiated by His Majesty the King have been in operation for effective water management and improvement of cultivation.
The five projects are located in five provinces, namely Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam in Nakhon Nayok, Khwae Noi Bamrung Daen Dam in Phitsanulok, Lam Phayang Bhumipat Water Diversion Tunnel in Kalasin, Thoranit Naruemit Sluice Gate in Nakhon Phanom, and Uthokvibhajaprasid Sluice Gate in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The Water and Flood Management Committee (WFMC) is offering Bt300 billion worth of projects to private firms in return for proposals on sustainable water-management or flood-prevention systems. The WFMC office started handing out terms of reference (ToR) documents to interested companies yesterday. "The documents will be available until July 23," Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee said in his capacity as WFMC chair. "We will brief the interested companies on July 24."
Interested consulting firms in Thailand and abroad have been invited to propose a conceptual plan for Thailand’s overall water management.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Plodprasop Suraswadi, said that the Government had approved the terms of reference (TOR) for hiring a consultant to join the comprehensive water management project. As for foreign firms, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will assign Thai embassies overseas to send invitations to them. The Thai government will spend about 300 billion baht to carry out the country’s water management, which consists of 14 projects.
The Cabinet has acknowledged a report that, as of 15 June 2012, a total of 658 factories in seven industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces affected by the severe flooding in 2011 have resumed operation. The number accounts for 78.43 percent of the total of 839 flood-hit factories.
As for large factories and SMEs outside the industrial estates, 7,781, or 98.61 percent, of large factories and SMEs have resumed operation.
Says impact of euro crisis here will be limited; warns Asean not to rush into single currency ; Region on right track via integration but 'no immunity to contamination through global interconnection'
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund has praised Thailand for its economic resilience and "V-shaped" recovery, while cautioning Asean not to rush into a single currency like Europe did.
She noted that it was also important for the government to ensure more inclusive growth so that all Thais shared in the prosperity. The IMF forecasts 5.5-per-cent growth for Thailand's gross domestic product this year.
Thailand and Vietnam agreed to increase bilateral trade by 20% per year with a goal of raising two-way trading volume to US$18 billion in 2015.
Thai investors are invited to join the development of thermal power plants in Vietnam or team with a third country to explore investment in energy, automobile parts and processed seafood industries, said Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who led the Thai delegation in the first Joint Trade Committee (JTC) between Thailand and Vietnam.
IMF Managing Director Visits Thailand and Participates in Thailand/ADB/IMF Seminar, IMF, July 12
Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today in Bangkok at the conclusion of her visit to Thailand:
“It has been a great pleasure to visit Thailand—my first trip here as Managing Director of the IMF. My visit to this dynamic and multi-faceted region has been uplifting and enriching. Visiting Bangkok is a wonderful way to conclude my trip. I was privileged to meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul and other senior officials.
Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong yesterday gave the thumbs down to the private sector's request for a tax exemption for overseas dividends, saying corporations already enjoyed a low income-tax rate.
"We have to think very carefully about the impact of the tax exemption for dividends that Thai firms receive from their investments abroad," he said in response to the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
The number of foreign investment projects in the first five months of 2012 indicates that Thailand remains an attractive investment destination among foreign investors.
The Secretary-General of the Office of the Board of Investment (BOI), Mrs. Atchaka Sibunruang, said that, from January to May this year, Thailand’s foreign direct investment amounted to 205.6 billion baht, an increase of 45 percent, when compared with 141 billion baht in the same period of 2011.
The size of the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) should be increased, while the system should link to international organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ensure it will credibly counter possible crises in the future, say panellists at a conference in Bangkok.
Iwan Azis, head of the Asian Development Bank's Office of Regional Integration, yesterday told a seminar entitled "Crisis Prevention and Policy Cooperation" that countries need to be concerned about crises outside their borders because of the interconnected nature of their economies.
In a move designed to toughen measures against illegal financial flows, Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has requested that commercial banks impose stricter requirements and conduct background checks on all people opening private bank accounts. The proposal is just one of several important actions Thailand is taking to tighten enforcement against money laundering.
AMLO submitted the proposal to the Ministry of Justice last week, and the Ministry agreed to implement the measures beginning August 21, according to Police Colonel Seehanat Prayoonrat, the chief of AMLO. “After August 21, it will not be so easy to open a bank account,’’ he said.
In the 15 years since the embattled baht was floated on July 2, 1997, Thailand's economy and currency have skidded through considerable turbulence, but for sustainable strength, proper policies are required to sail the economy and baht through worse weather towards firmer ground, economists say.
Food & Agriculture
The Commerce Ministry has approached rice-producing countries and the private sector to push for creation of an Asean Rice Federation aimed at increasing efficiency and stabilising prices.
Yanyong Phuangrach, the commerce permanent secretary, said the ministry and the private sector, led by rice millers, have discussed with Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos the creation of a cooperative framework for rice trading. The five countries combined produce 30-40 million tonnes of rice a year, sufficient to supply the global market, said Mr Yanyong.
The government has extended its rice-pledging programme in a bid to maintain high local prices for the next main crop in November.
It also plans to open a special subsidy programme for non-seasonal rice production with an estimated volume of 1 million tonnes of paddy soon. The plan will add to the already high government rice stockpile, now at about 11 million tonnes of paddy.
Health & Life Sciences
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will suspend the licenses of pharmacies that operate without an attending pharmacist and plans to amend a Public Health ministerial regulation to raise the quality and standard of drugstores.
The ministry has come under pressure to strictly implement the amended Drug Act to ensure all pharmacies have attending pharmacists, FDA chief Pipat Yingseri said yesterday, adding that the agency randomly checked drugstores regularly. Out of 498 places in Bangkok checked in the past nine months, 16 had no pharmacist, eight sold potentially dangerous medicines in the absence of a pharmacist and 48 had improper lists of medicine purchases.
The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria yesterday opened its first business forum in Bangkok to encourage more private-sector support in combating the three epidemics.
"The continued and expanded engagement of private contributors is playing a critical role in ensuring the long-term success of the Global Fund and the fight against Aids, tuberculosis and malaria," said Dr Christoph Benn, director for resource mobilisation and donor relations.
Under the theme "Investing in Asia-Pacific: Public Private Partnerships in Health", the Global Fund Business Forum, which ends today, is discussing various topics including the role of business in global health and business engagement in sustainable value creation. Panel sessions on public-private partnerships are also being held in various areas.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) in Thailand is under control thanks to measures put in place to prevent a virulent strain from spreading to Thailand from Cambodia, Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said yesterday. Extraordinary surveillance measures were being implemented to keep Enterovirus Type 71 (EV-71), a strain of HFMD that has claimed the lives of more than 60 children in Cambodia, from spreading to Thailand, Dr Surawit said. Parents are being advised to encourage their children to wash their hands often and avoid taking them to crowded places, Dr Surawit said.
The government will re-launch the Bt30 healthcare scheme - with the decision on whether to pay Bt30 towards their medical bill being left up to the patients - by September 1.
The announcement followed the National Health Security Office (NHSO)'s executive board meeting yesterday, which studied methods to implement the Bt30 co-payment scheme at all hospitals across the country.
Thailand’s Cabinet has approved a 200 million baht ($6.35 million) atmospheric study requested and to be conducted by Thailand’s own space agency. The scientists’ request came after the cancellation of a study proposed by NASA (the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration) last week.
Twenty Thai scientists from five universities and GISTDA (the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency) had submitted a petition to the Ministry of Science and Technology to fund a study so they could learn and better understand how climate change is impacting Thailand and the Southeast Asian region.
More than 400,000 civil servants and employees of local administration organisations are set to receive universal healthcare scheme benefits.
This is part of a bid to make more equitable the healthcare rights of people registered under different government health care schemes, said Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri.
The 'Tang Thai' Team from Mahidol University in Bangkok won the grand prize in the Game Design category at the 10th annual Imagine Cup, the world's premier student technology competition organized by Microsoft Corp. Thailand has herewith become the first country worldwide to win three grand prizes and one 1st runner-up award.
The winners were announced on 10th July 2012 at the Imagine Cup World Festival and Awards Ceremony at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, in front of 106 student teams. The event was the culmination of a five-day celebration of technology, teamwork and innovation.
The Information and Communica-tions Technology Ministry yesterday signed a repeat order for the second lot of tablet computers, consisting of 403,941 units at US$82 per unit or a total of Bt1.05 billion.
The Education Ministry will start delivering the first lot 50,000 tablets to six provinces from Monday once the quality check is completed.
In a bid to push Thailand to the forefront of cloud computing, Software Park Thailand has joined hands with local cloud-service providers to establish "Cloud Thailand Alliance", aimed at encouraging local software companies and developers to create software and applications for cloud platform. The alliance officially kicked off last week. There are six founding members - True IDC, Datapro, Anise Asia, Cloud Creation, TOT
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the State Railway of Thailand (SRT)'s project to build 106km of double-track railway from Chachoengsao to Saraburi provinces, according to deputy government spokesperson Pakdiharn Himathongkham.
In addition to the 106km double track, the Cabinet endorsed the building of rail bypasses at three railway junctions in Chachoengsao, Saraburi and Ayutthaya within the 2013-2016 budget of Bt10.63 billion, set aside from both projects. It also endorsed the proposed SRT construction of a railway and a tunnel at Phraphuttachai Mountain in Saraburi with a budget of Bt712 million under a two-year project.
Surat Thani province may get a third airport if a study by the Department of Civil Aviation shows that it would be beneficial to the local community and also serve to integrate the economy of the southern region while not hurting the environment.
The department, part of the Ministry of Transport, is studying the feasibility of building a new airport in Don Sak district, in the eastern part of the province, where ferry piers serving Koh Samui are located, said Seree Chitsopa, the department's deputy director-general.
Dawei Development insists that its Dawei port project in Myanmar is on track even though a major shareholder, Max Myanmar Group of Companies, could not put in its quota of capital as requested.
Somchet Thinaphong, managing director of Dawei Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of Italian-Thai Development, said last week that Max Myanmar will have to reduce its ownership percentage after failing to contribute to paid-up capital. Dawei Development is seeking local partners. Four investors have expressed interest in the project.
Private firms will have to make way for poor once concessions end: dept
The Royal Forest Department (RFD) is preparing to take forestland away from investors and to allow local villagers to use such green zones instead. RFD director-general Suwit Rattanamanee believed it was "high time" locals got a chance to utilise and rehabilitate forest plots leased previously to private firms. He spoke after serious disputes between landless locals and private firms over land, where concessions had already expired.
There is now 146,480 rai of such forestland in Surat Thani, Krabi, Trang, Chumphon and Phang Nga. Under the 1964 Forest Reserve Act, the RFD has granted many private firms concessions to use 289,997 rai of forestland in these five southern provinces. The terms of the concessions ranged from five to 30 years.
Medical personnel have urged the government to amend a medical law and enact regulations to curb the unethical promotion and sale of medicinal products by pharmaceutical companies.
Niyada Kiatying-angsulee, manager of Thai Drug Watch of Chulalongkorn University's faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, said laws to control the unethical promotion and sale of medicines are outdated. She said the 1967 Medicine Act and old regulations cannot be effectively applied to modern promotional and sales methods.
The Board of Trade will this week ask the government to reconsider taxation on Thai companies' overseas investment returns, saying that such rules are discouraging and not supporting expansion ahead of the Asean Economic Community.
Kitipong Urapeepatanapong, chairman of the board's local tax laws committee, said the government should abolish the tax as has been done by many other countries.
US business committed to Asean connectivity, The Nation, July 13
Entitled C2C, or, Commitment to Connectivity, the conference focused on crafting recommendations for strengthening ASEAN's connectivity agenda and enhancing ties between the US and ASEAN business communities. The event created opportunities for senior business executives from the US and ASEAN to work directly with US and ASEAN government officials on plans to support the continuing development of ASEAN as a single, sustainable market of 600 million plus consumers. The day was headlined by keynote speeches from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, President of Myanmar Thein Sein, and Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra, and was organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce.
The Constitution Court on Friday ruled to drop the five complaints against charter amendments. The court ruled that testimonials by the defendants and the five complainants did not prove that the on-going charter amendments would lead to the overthrowing of the Constitutional Monarchy.
The court ruled that the complainants were only speculating that amendments would lead to the overthrowing of the democratic system with the King as head of the state.
Thailand's Constitutional Court defused a potential political crisis Friday by dismissing a complaint that the ruling party's attempt to amend the constitution amounted to plotting to overthrow the monarchy.
Had the court sustained the complaint, it could have ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's party dissolved just a year after the landslide election that brought it to power. Many feared such a ruling would have provoked mass street protests and possible violence.
Hundreds of police surrounded Thailand's Constitutional Court Friday as the country braced for a crunch ruling that threatens to rip open the kingdom's bitter political divisions.
The court is set to rule on whether plans by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's party to amend the constitution -- drawn up under the military junta that deposed her divisive brother Thaksin -- are legal.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called on all sides to peacefully accept Friday's Constitution Court ruling on the legality of the government's charter amendment bill. Ms Yingluck, who will be in Phnom Penh when the verdict is delivered, said on Thursday that all groups have the constitutional right of expression and assembly, but their activities must be carried out in a peaceful manner.
The sense of deja vu that pervades Thailand's political landscape in the lead-up to the Constitution Court's decision Friday on whether the lower house has violated the charter by trying to amend it harbours short- and longer-term implications. In the immediate term, the court can either back off to allow the legislation to run its course or opt for a jugular verdict that would unseat the national assembly and upend the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. A middling outcome would be to hedge against wholesale revision of the charter and to circumscribe amendments to certain articles and sections.
Thailand on Wednesday said it was boosting security ahead of an incendiary charter amendment case that could lead to the dissolution of the ruling party, with judges given special police protection.
Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa warned that Friday's verdict, which threatens to rip open the kingdom's bitter political divisions, "could trigger violence", but said there was no specific threat of unrest.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has no conflict of interest in the energy deal with Cambodia when she visits Siem Reap on Friday to join US-Asean Business Forum at the invitation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Tuesday.
Yingluck would have a bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen but the main agenda was cooperation on the road connecting the border and Laos's Xayaburi dam, over which Cambodia is concerned about the impacts and not the gas deal in the Gulf of Thailand, he said.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be a keynote speaker at a gathering of Asean-US businessmen in Cambodia's Siem Reap province this Friday, Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tohvichakchaikul said.
The businessmen are attending the Asean-US Business Council and Yingluck has been invited by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is leading the US mission to the meeting.
Surapong said Yingluck will leave Bangkok for Siem Reap on Friday at 3pm and will have a discussion with her Khmer counterpart Hun Sen before giving the speech. The speech is expected to create and restore confidence among businessmen from the US and Asean nations in investment opportunities in Thailand.
The President of the United States has been invited to visit Thailand on his trip to attend the East Asia Summit in Cambodia at the end of 2012.
Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Director-General of the Department of Information and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that the United States had also invited the Prime Minister of Thailand to visit the United States. The dates of both visits are being discussed by both countries.