Thailand Clippings: SMEs told to gear up for fight

Top Story of the Week: SMEs told to gear up for fight

LOOKING AHEAD
+ For more information on the Council’s Thailand program, please contact Carr Slayton at cslayton@usasean.org.

IN THIS UPDATE:

Defense & Security
+ Thailand seeks Black Hawks
Disaster & Flood Recovery
Flood prevention boosted by Board of Investment approvals 
          

Infrastructure
Don't miss investment express, TDRI
Financial Services 
More wealth advisers needed, Korn says
       

Economics
+ BoI approves 16 projects
+ GDP not only success factor: Prasarn
+ Commerce Min approves Bt5bn in foreign investment
+ Inflation not expected to exceed 3.3% on stable prices, economic growth
+ SMEs told to gear up for fight
      

Energy
+ K-Asset to inaugurate fund for solar energy development
+ Dow Begins Production of ENLIGHT(TM) Polyolefin Encapsulant Films in Map Ta Phut
Manufacturing
Auto industry gets turbo boost
Delivery deadline extended to 2013 for 'first car ' 

        

Health & Life Sciences
Thai role in fight against HIV highlighted at AIDS conference

ICT
+ Thailand Science Park proving to be a platform for innovation
+ Intel and IT City launches Thailand's first "Ultrabook City" 
         

Other
Think tank for the future
Toyo-Thai Corp up on new US contract
PwC Thailand homes in on small businesses
Thailand-Burma economic relation strengthens ever more
        

Food & Agriculture 
+ Govt to start releasing rice stocks
+ Manila set to raise Thai rice import quota
+ Thailand’s Sugar Premium Seen Sliding As Global Demand Declines
+ Proposal to extend price-pledging for second rice
+ Thailand will remain top rice exporter, says govt
        

Defense & Security

Thailand seeks Black Hawks, UPI, July 27

The U.S. Congress has been notified by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency that Thailand is seeking a $235 million helicopter deal.

The sales package, under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, would be for four UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters, 10 T700-GE-701D Engines (eight installed and two spares), warranty, support equipment and spare and repair parts. Personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. government and contractor technical assistance would be included in the agreement.

Disaster & Flood Recovery

Flood prevention boosted by Board of Investment approvals, Royal Thai Embassy, Aug. 2 

With the monsoon season gathering pace, Thailand’s Board of Investment approved 27 projects last week worth $500 million related to flood prevention as businesses continue to show confidence in Thailand as a manufacturing base despite extensive damage from last year’s flooding, the worst in Southeast Asia in half a century.

Of the new approvals, 21 are for expansions of projects by existing investors, another demonstration of faith in Thailand by those already doing business in the kingdom.  The BOI has now approved a total of 44 flood-related projects worth $800 million. A total of 95 such projects have been submitted for approvals.

Economics

BoI approves 16 projects, Bangkok Post, Aug. 2

Sixteen large industrial projects worth a combined 117 billion baht won Board of Investment (BoI) approval yesterday including proposals by big regional players Toyota, IRPC and PTT.

With the BoI's green light, PTT plans to spend 23 billion baht to develop a natural gas transport network linking Ayutthaya's Wang Noi with Nakhon Sawan province, 16 billion to link Wang Noi with Nakhon Ratchasima province and 2.1 billion to link Kanchanaburi province with Myanmar's border states.

GDP not only success factor: Prasarn, The Nation, Aug. 1

Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said yesterday the country's economic strength relies not only on gross domestic product but also stability, competitiveness and quality of life.

The central bank, through its operations, has striven to ensure improvement in the three supporting components, but some flaws remain, he told a seminar on "How GDP Reflects Thailand's Economic Strength" hosted by the House committee on monetary, fiscal and financial institutions.

Commerce Min approves Bt5bn in foreign investment, The Nation, July 31

A combined investment worth Bt5.13 billion by 184 foreign companies had been approved in the first seven months of this year, according to the Commerce Ministry.

In term of the number of investing units, the figure showed an increase of 21 per cent from the same period last year, while the value of investment rose 13.4 per cent.

Inflation not expected to exceed 3.3% on stable prices, economic growth, The Nation, Aug. 2

With goods prices expected to remain stable and economic growth strong, the Commerce Ministry is confident that inflation will be 3.3 per cent this year, putting less pressure on the government to increase the interest rate.

The ministry reported yesterday that July inflation grew 2.73 per cent year on year, up 0.35 percentage point from the previous month. The ministry attributed the increase to higher food and fuel prices. Commerce Permanent Secretary Yanyong Phuangrach said that inflation had risen in a stabilised manner and this should ensure that the annualised level would not exceed the target of 3.3-3.8 per cent.

SMEs told to gear up for fight, The Nation, Aug. 1

SMEs need to expand to other Asean countries and prepare for competition from Asean firms that are expected to locate here, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said yesterday. Thai SMEs are competitive in 16 industries, according to a study.

Thai businesses could set up in other countries and get equal treatment as local firms, Kittiratt said in a keynote speech at the "Innovation: A New Era of AEC" forum. Thais could hold up to 70 per cent of those firms, he said. There are only two years and a half remaining before Asean becomes the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

Energy

K-Asset to inaugurate fund for solar energy development, Royal Thai Embassy, Aug. 2

Thailand is a country that is heavily dependent upon imports of oil and gas, but Thailand’s economic planners are increasingly looking at alternative and renewable energy sources to make the country’s energy platform more green, sustainable – and independent. It isn’t only government, however, that is thinking green. The private sector is also eyeing investments in renewable energy, and last week Kasikorn Asset Management, a subsidiary of one of the kingdom’s largest commercial banks, announced it will launch an infrastructure fund to support solar energy development in Thailand.

Dow Begins Production of ENLIGHT(TM) Polyolefin Encapsulant Films in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, WSJ, Aug. 1

Dow Chemical Company said today that it has begun production in Thailand for ENLIGHT(TM) Polyolefin Encapsulant Films for use in photovoltaic solar panels.

"We're thrilled to have this capacity come on stream," said Jerry Pritchett, Global Business Director for the Performance Plastics' Photovoltaic business. "Market demand for these innovative encapsulant films remains very strong, and this new production capacity will enable us to meet the needs of this fast-growing sector."

The Map Ta Phut, Thailand site is a state-of-the-art manufacturing operation that allows Dow to double global production capacity immediately. Dow is also constructing a third manufacturing site for this film in Schkopau, Germany, which will also bring additional capacity. Dow has had a production facility in Findlay, Ohio, since December 2010.

Financial Services

More wealth advisers needed, Korn says, The Nation, July 30

Thailand should create more wealth professionals to deal with the increase in high-net-worth individuals, former finance minister and veteran financier Korn Chatikavanij says, noting that such professionals have an important role in reinforcing the wealth of investors.

Korn said investors who want to get rich will rely more on wealth advisory services to ensure their expected return on investment is realised. Investments today are unlike those of 10 years ago, when there were few choices, such as deposits and equity. Today, the market has various instruments with complicated investments and attractive returns.

Food & Agriculture

Govt to start releasing rice stocks, The Nation, Aug. 2

The Commerce Ministry yesterday announced it would gradually release its rice stocks from the 2011/2012 harvest season under a bidding process to exporters and domestic traders, starting this month to the end of this year. The move is aimed at clearing up its stockpiles for the new crop pledging.

Commerce Ministry Boonsong Teriyapirom said the government would not limit the volume of release during the rest of the year. However, it would consider the demand in the market so as to have a minimum impact on the price. The ministry did not report the exact amount of rice in its stockpiles, but expected that about 8 million to 8.5 million tonnes of rice would be released under the plan. They are from the 2011/12 main crop harvest season of 6.96 million tonnes of paddy, and the second crop harvest season of 9.85 million tonnes of paddy that entered the government stockpiles.

Manila set to raise Thai rice import quota, The Nation, Aug. 1

Thailand expects to negotiate an increase in its rice-import quota to the Philippines to more than 100,000 tonnes to compensate for Manila's decision to maintain its high import tariff for another five years.

Under its World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta) obligations, the Philippines is required to provide such compensation for maintaining the high tariff.

Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the Thai Trade Negotiations Department, said yesterday that Thai rice exports should have a brighter future in the Philippines thanks to growing demand for the grain there. As a result, Thailand must negotiate to ensure the import quota is increased, or the high tariff could see Thai rice lose market share.

Thailand’s Sugar Premium Seen Sliding As Global Demand Declines, Bloomberg, July 30

The premium buyers pay to obtain raw sugar from Thailand, the world’s second-biggest exporter, slid over the past week as global demand for sweetener declines, according to Green Pool Commodity Specialists Pty Ltd.

Raw sugar from Thailand is at a premium of $2.60 a pound above the price on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, the Brisbane- based researcher, said in a report e-mailed today. Thai sugar was for sale at a premium of $3 to $3.20 a pound a week earlier. Raw sugar futures have climbed 7.6 percent so far this month in New York.

Proposal to extend price-pledging for second rice, The Nation, July 28

The National Rice Policy Committee will seek Cabinet approval for extending the price-pledging scheme to cover the second rice crop.

In addition, the committee will review its pledging conditions favouring influential rice farmers and instead focus on small and medium farmers. The pledging price of provincial fragrant rice will be raised by another Bt1,000 per tonne from the current Bt19,000.

The committee yesterday accepted a proposal by the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to extend the period of the price-pledging scheme for the second crop. Total production of the second crop is estimated to reach 2 million tonnes, for which the government would need to spend Bt20 billion on subsidy. So far, the government has managed 9 million tonnes of paddy rice under its pledging scheme.

Thailand will remain top rice exporter, says govt, Bangkok Post, July 26

Thailand will maintain its position as the world’s largest rice exporter this year, permanent secretary for commerce Yanyong Phuangrach said on Thursday.

Thailand had been ranked the top rice exporter in the world for the last 30 years. In recent years the government had raised the price of paddy from 8,000-9,000 baht a tonne to 11,000 baht, while the export price of white rice rose from US$400-500 per tonne to about US$600, Mr Yanyong said.

Health & Life Sciences

Thai role in fight against HIV highlighted at AIDS conference, Royal Thai Embassy, Aug. 2 

Thailand’s experience in reversing the spread of HIV was featured prominently at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C. last week, as those engaged in the response voiced hope that an end to the global epidemic may be on the horizon. A diverse Thai contingent of doctors, public health officials, members of civil society groups and people living with HIV (PLHA) participated in the conference, where Thailand and its advances against the disease were highlighted in more than two-dozen presentations and panel discussions.

Research and trials conducted in Thailand have contributed to progress in several new approaches to solving HIV that have generated a new spirit of optimism about the possibility of eradicating the global epidemic. Among those approaches are the use of microbicides, anti-retroviral prophylaxis, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and combination vaccines that have shown increased efficacy in preventing infections and the possibility of reducing the virus to undetectable levels in the bloodstream.

ICT

Thailand Science Park proving to be a platform for innovation, Royal Thai Embassy, Aug. 2

Thailand may not be one of the first countries that come to mind when talking about research and development in Asia, but that may be starting to change. Thailand Science Park is one of the reasons why.

Paijit Sangchai, an independent chemist, needed a laboratory to test his promising new idea. A former employee of one of Thailand’s largest conglomerates, he had struck out on his own with the goal of developing an ecologically friendly method of recycling paper. Thailand has an abundance of paper waste, which is often burned, releasing greenhouse gasses. Chlorine and other chemicals used in conventional recycling pollute water resources. Paijit, employing a variation of an idea he saw in the United States, developed a recycling method that uses plant enzymes instead of toxic chemicals. His innovations won him a Technology Pioneer award from the World Economic Forum. But Paijit, who now has a company called Flexo research, says his idea alone was not enough to achieve success. “The support I received from Thailand Science Park, where I set up my laboratory, was essential,’’ he says.

Intel and IT City launches Thailand's first "Ultrabook City", The Nation, Aug. 2

Intel partners with IT City to launch Ultrabook City, the first unique retail zone to complete the Ultrabook-buying experience in Thailand.

Intel Microelectronics (Thailand) together with IT City has launched Ultrabook City, the first unique interactive retail zone in Thailand. With the aim to educate consumers and transform user experiences from the latest Ultrabooks' technologies, the Ultrabook City will complete the PC-buying experience. Intel is also introducing the ultra-cool "Catch and Win" application for consumers with a chance to win over 10 Ultrabooks from today until 16 September 2012.

Infrastructure

Don't miss investment express, TDRI, The Nation, Aug. 1

Thailand should board the new train of investment in double-track and high-speed railways to transport its economy to a higher plateau, according to the Thailand Development Research Institute.

The independent think tank also urged the Thai, Chinese and Laotian governments to hold talks on linking up their rail networks. As the government plans to upgrade the country's railway system and extend it to other Asian countries, the country should seek a vision for itself in the next 10-20 years.

Manufacturing

Auto industry gets turbo boost, The Nation, Aug. 3

The government's "buy your first car now, get the car next year" policy, which has undergone an extension in terms of the vehicle delivery period, is considered the biggest boost in the auto industry's 50-year history.

Industry sources say the government's initial Bt30-billion budget, to be paid back to 500,000 first-time car buyers, can easily be raised to cater to an additional 100,000 buyers, who are expected to speed up car purchases before the government's December 31 deadline expires. As a result, automobile sales in Thailand could reach 1.3 million vehicles this year, one source said.

Delivery deadline extended to 2013 for 'first car ', The Nation, July 31

The Cabinet yesterday approved the Finance Ministry's request to extend the deadline of car delivery under the government's policy for first-time car buyers to March next year. However, all first-time car buyers need to submit the required documents to the Excise Tax Department by the end of December. The buyers will also enjoy a tax refund if they hang on to the car for at least a year.

The Cabinet also gave Commerce Ministry the greenlight yesterday to import 30,000 tonnes of crude palm oil next month in order to cover depleting stocks and stop the retail price from climbing further. Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom said the ministry will start to gradually import crude palm oil to reinstate the stocks next month. Initially, the ministry's Public Warehouses Organisation will import 10,000 tonnes of crude palm oil, before refining and bottling it to sell as cooking palm oil. The oil will be imported at Bt30 per kilogram, and retail price will not be allowed to exceed Bt42 per litre bottle.

Other

Think tank for the future, Bangkok Post, Aug. 1

Thailand faces a growing danger of slipping economic and social development slip without the pursuit of long-term goals similar to what has been followed for several decades, says a new research institute founded by academics and businesses.

The Thailand Future Foundation (TFF) said most of the economic gains benefiting the country have been derived from efforts made over the past three decades. It said that the country needs a new way of developing the labour market as well as the public and corporate sectors.

Chairman Somkid Jatusripitak called on the business sector to play a leading role in pressing for changes in economic management, while the public sector and civil society should focus on the immediate problems of political difficulty.

Toyo-Thai Corp up on new US contract, Reuters, July 30

Shares in Toyo-Thai Corp Pcl climbed to their highest in more than three months after the builder's consortium received a potential contract to build a chemicals plant in the United States for $120-$125 million.

The construction period would be from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2014, it said in a statement.

PwC Thailand homes in on small businesses, Bangkok Post, July 30

Professional services giant PwC Thailand will increase its focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as competition for Thai companies is set to rise with the creation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC). Sira Intarakumthornchai, appointed earlier this month as chief executive officer of PwC Thailand, said the firm saw SMEs as a key segment for future growth.

Thailand-Burma economic relation strengthens ever more, Asian Tribune, July  28

President of Burma or Myanmar, Mr. Thein Sein met Thai Prime Minister Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra at Thai Koo Fah of State Guesthouse in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday (23 July), The New Light of Myanmar reported in its issue on Thursday.

The Thai PM expressed her thanks for President Thein Sein’s visit to Thailand at the invitation of Thai government. She also said that the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between the two countries would be celebrated in Thailand on a grand scale next year.