Thailand Update: Thailand “Highly Likely” to Join TPP

Thailand Update | December 9, 2015
Authors: Matt Solomon, Hai Pham
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand “Highly Likely” to Join TPP

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said last week that it is “highly likely” Thailand will seek to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  During a visit to Tokyo, he also said that Japan had pledged to support such a bid.  Mr. Somkid suggested that continued study of TPP’s impact will be required, and that he plans to convene specialists to consider its potential effect on agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and other sectors.  Whether this will delay an announcement—previously expected during the inaugural meeting of the International Trade Development Committee on December 9—is yet to be seen.  U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies reiterated this week that the U.S. “will be ready to work with Thailand” if and when such an announcement is made, but clarified that he was not attempting to convince Thailand to join.

During his remarks in Tokyo, Mr. Somkid emphasized that, despite a slowdown in growth, the overall outlook for the Thai economy is strong.  A series of stimulus packages implemented in the past several months is expected to spur consumer and industrial confidence—an outlook that may be bolstered by a positive announcement on TPP. 

Thai 4G Funds to be Spent on Infrastructure

On November 26, Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.) announced that the $2.26 billion raised from a 4G mobile license auction would be used to fund infrastructure projects.  Thai mobile operators Advance Info Service and True Corp won the auction for Fourth-Generation (4G) mobile frequency licenses on November 12, 2015, held by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.  According to Prime Minister Prayut, the funds will be used for infrastructure projects, like improving railways and roads to boost border trade, and to help low-income people including farmers.  This is especially important as the country is experiencing its worst drought in decades, which has hurt the farming sector and the rural economy.  Thailand’s telecom regulator will hold another auction on December 15. 

New Thai Insurance Regulations to Focus on Improving Domestic Competitiveness

The new secretary-general of Thailand’s Office of Insurance Commission (OIC), Sutthipol Taweechaikarn, has outlined new measures aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the country’s insurance sector.  Mr. Sutthipol, who succeeded Pravej Ongartsit-tigul as head of the OIC on November 1, has said he will support insurers seeking to strengthen their capital base and pave the way for foreign financial entities to jointly invest with local firms.  He has also indicated that the OIC will step up its role as a convenient and clear information channel for consumers regarding insurance products in order to foster the growth of the domestic insurance market.  To this end, the OIC’s call center and website will be improved in the coming months.  The office will also support better access to insurance products for disadvantaged consumers, such as farmers, low-income earners, the disabled, and the elderly.  Mr. Sutthipol has emphasized that the new regulations should not serve as a barrier to either insurers or consumers and suggested the rules may be incrementally applied to accommodate smaller firms.  Separately, the OIC has announced it will hold discussions with insurance regulators in neighboring countries to promote the concept of an integrated ASEAN insurance market.  Thailand’s general insurance sector has become a significant contributor to the country’s economy, although recent political and economic conditions have weighed on the industry’s expansion.  Growth over the past two years has averaged just one percent, with the yearly amount paid in premiums averaging around US$5.7 billion.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Massive Boost in Cambodia-Thai Trade Sought

National Affairs
Thailand sets goal of citizenship for 18,000 stateless refugees

ASEAN
South East Asia highway to connect Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos

Customs
How Thailand's anti-dumping law works
Somkid: 'Chances high' for TPP bid
Thailand says 'highly likely' it will seek TPP membership
US to review Thai trade benefits after labour complaint
Thailand ignoring WTO cigarette deal, PHL alleges

Defense & Security
Thailand Receive Shipment 2 Helicopter M-17V5

Economics
Thailand 'to reap rewards' from IMF's yuan move
Thailand to sign rail, rice, rubber deals with China
Cross-border imports from Thailand double despite export lag
Thailand sees improved tourism, contracts export in October
Thailand embarks on new economic drive

Energy
Prayut delivers Thailand's climate pledge at Paris summit
Vietnam, Thailand seek stronger marine cooperatio
Thailand, Japan to sign emissions-offset agreement
Ly Yong Phat in Talks to Supply Power to Thailand
Renewable energy around the world: opportunities in Asia Pacific
Wat Yan Nawa and the use of solar energy
Federal-Mogul ups stake in Parts Zone
LSIS boosts cooperation with Asian electricity authorities
International solar community to gather in Thailand November 25-26
Kris Energy progresses with Gulf of Thailand discovery
Thailand prepares for 2018 smart grid pilot launch

Financial Services
Ministry to streamline foreign baht bond approvals
Thailand: Mobile insurance app clinches US$2 mln funding
TCG wants amendments to extend loan guarantees to non-banks
Ministry mulls tweaking nanofinance
Thailand: Insurers keen to raise and liberalise auto premiums
Thailand: New regulatory chief focuses on regulations to hone competitiveness
Mobile networks team up for e-payment
Study shows growing preference for mobile shopping

Food & Agriculture
Thailand to boost rice shipments to Iran
Thailand asks Russia to buy 80,000 tonnes of rubber
Thailand maps out plan to become a top-five exporter of halal foods by 2020
Livestock and aqua sectors push imports of soybean in Thailand

Health & Life Sciences
Thailand's healthcare system considered a 'model worth following'
Stigma, budget threats still hamper HIV/Aids struggle
Overuse of antibiotics killing Thais at high rate
Thai Cabinet nod for fund to back 10 targeted sectors
Thailand dengue outbreak: 5,000 more cases reported this week, blood donations needed

ICT
Thailand optimistic about getting ICT boost
CAT Telecom prepares to launch data center subsidiary in Thailand
Line Launches First R&D Unit in Thailand
Thai 4G funds to be spent on infrastructure
E-commerce market on path of growth
CAT keen on data centre joint venture
NBTC sets out rules for 900-MHz bids
KBank helps AIS improve e-commerce

Infrastructure
India-Myanmar road pact in March to boost economy: Nitin Gadkari
Thailand Government plans infrastructure programme
Thailand to launch big infrastructure projects next year
Thai-Chinese rail on fast track
Iran Seeks Thai Infrastructure Investment
Thailand plans $2.8 bln infrastructure fund by year-end - finmin
Govt plans B100bn SET-traded infrastructure fund
Thailand, China agree on railways

TPP
Thailand’s four main objections to the TPP
Thailand Says ‘Highly Likely’ It Will Seek TPP Membership

Vietnam
First Vietnam-Thailand energy forum opens
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Massive Boost in Cambodia-Thai Trade Sought Khmer Times 30th Nov 2015
Trade officials from Cambodia and Thailand will begin two days of talks in Bangkok tomorrow in an attempt to boost bilateral increase by 30 per cent per year over the next five years, including drawing more investment from third countries in special economic zones (SEZ), including new ones, officials at the Commerce Ministry said yesterday.

National Affairs

Thailand sets goal of citizenship for 18,000 stateless refugees CS Monitor 1st Dec 2015
Thailand has pledged to grant citizenship to more than 18,000 stateless refugees during the next three years, though overall the country will remain home to the most stateless people of any country in the world. United Nations officials said on Tuesday the gesture would represent only a fraction of the nearly 450,000 people documented as nationless in Thailand, about 4.2 percent of the total, based on a report by the United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR).

ASEAN

South East Asia highway to connect Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos World Highways 27th Nov 2015
Plans are in hand in South East Asia for an improved road link connecting Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. A loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) worth US$100 million will help fund the work for the 66.4km section running between Kawkareik and Eindu in Myanmar. The highway will run for some 1,450km in all. The road will be called the East-West Economic Corridor and is of key importance to open up trade and transport between these nations. Talks for this project are underway at present.

Customs

How Thailand's anti-dumping law works Bangkok Post 30th Nov 2015
An anti-dumping measure is a trade regulation many countries use to prevent local industries from being hurt by cheap imported goods that are "dumped" on the market. Thailand is a member of the World Trade Organization, which has adopted international free trade regulations including an anti-dumping mechanism. This mechanism is meant to be applied in conjunction with a local law. Thailand's law is the Anti-Dumping Act (1999). Here are some brief details about how the regulation works. Definition: Dumping is when the export price of a good is lower than the domestic price. This could signal there are export subsidies or a trade procedure that enables the export price to be lower.

Somkid: 'Chances high' for TPP bid Bangkok Post 27th Nov 2015
Thailand is "highly likely" to seek membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but would first need to weigh up the impact of the free-trade accord on its export-led economy, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Friday. The US-led pact now has 12 members including Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico and Chile, as well as four from Asean: Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The TPP would slash tariffs in a market of 800 million people representing about 40% of the global economy. "Thailand is highly interested in joining TPP," Mr Somkid told a news conference in Tokyo. "Chances are high that Thailand will seek to join TPP." He said the government was analysing the impact of joining the trade deal, particularly on sensitive issues including agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

Thailand says 'highly likely' it will seek TPP membership Reuters 27th Nov 2015
Thailand is "highly likely" to seek membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but would first need to weigh up the impact of the free-trade accord on its export-led economy, a deputy prime minister said on Friday. The pact currently has 12 members and would slash tariffs in a bloc comprising countries from Canada, Australia and Japan to Mexico, Vietnam and Chile in a trade area of 800 million people worth about 40 percent of the global economy. "Thailand is highly interested in joining TPP ...," Somkid Jatusripitak told a news conference in Tokyo. "Chances are high that Thailand will seek to join TPP."

US to review Thai trade benefits after labour complaint Bangkok Post 26th Nov 2015
The United States will review Thailand's eligibility for trade benefits after complaints that the country is not properly protecting workers' rights, the US Trade Representative said. US umbrella union group AFL-CIO said Thailand had breached standards under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which allows duty-free access for some imports, on a range of issues including acceptable conditions of work and forced labour. USTR said in a statement it would hold a hearing in January on Thailand, and continue its work on GSP reviews of Fiji, Georgia, Iraq, Niger, Uzbekistan and Ecuador.

Thailand ignoring WTO cigarette deal, PHL alleges Business World 26th Nov 2015
The government said Thailand is not complying with rulings issued by the World Trade Organization (WTO) by continuing to impose rules that unfairly place imported cigarettes at a disadvantage. In a statement submitted to the WTO’s dispute settlement body on Nov. 25, the Philippines said it is “deeply concerned” about two issues that undermine the recommendations and rulings relating to Thailand custom’s treatment of imported cigarettes, and the resulting agreement between the two countries. “First, the Philippines remains deeply concerned with the Thai Attorney General’s decision to prosecute the importer of Philippine cigarettes for alleged under-declaration of customs value,” the statement reads. “Second, the Philippines is also deeply concerned about a separate Thai BoA [Customs Board of Appeals] ruling rejecting transaction value for 20 entries from Indonesia that were covered by the rulings and recommendations in the original proceedings in this dispute,” it said.

Defense & Security

Thailand Receive Shipment 2 Helicopter M-17V5 Defense Studies 1st Dec 2015
On Thursday 26 November 2015 last aboard transport aircraft giant Antonov An-124 at the airport U-Tapao Thailand about 100 km south of Bangkok have come shipment of two helicopters Mi-17V5 with numbers Tails 76 404 and 76 405 from Russia. Posts 2 helicopter is a Thai Army orders the contract was conducted in July 2014 and then, with the signing of orders 2 helicopters Mi-17V5 is done in Moscow, Russia. Both transport helicopters were Mi-17V5 will be assigned to the unity of the General Aviation Support Battalion (GSAB) to support mobility Infantry Division 4th Army Thailand. The unity GSAB with call sign Goliath (GLA) based at Sa Pran Nak, provonsi Lopburi, Central Thailand.

Economics

Thailand 'to reap rewards' from IMF's yuan move Bangkok Post 2nd Dec 2015
Thailand's trade and investment will benefit in the long run from inclusion of the yuan in the special drawing rights (SDR) currency basket of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), says a senior central bank official. Greater use of the Chinese currency would help to slim down foreign exchange costs and diversify risks, said Mathee Supapongse, deputy governor overseeing monetary stability.

Thailand to sign rail, rice, rubber deals with China Strait Times 2nd Dec 2015
China will sign agreements to build a railway in Thailand and buy some of its rice and rubber, senior Thai government officials said on Wednesday (Dec 2). The agreements could help boost the pedestrian growth rate of South-east Asia's second-largest economy and are the latest sign of strengthening relations between the two nations since a 2014 coup in Thailand.

Cross-border imports from Thailand double despite export lag Thai Visa 1st Dec 2015
Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce has revealed that the total import volume of goods into Myanmar from Thailand has doubled in the last year at the largest overland border crossing between the two countries, The Irrawaddy reported. From April to late November, the total of value of imports through Mae Sot into Myawaddy reached US$401 million, up from $198 million over the same period in 2014.

Thailand sees improved tourism, contracts export in October Business Standard 30th Nov 2015
Thailand's tourism sector slightly improved in October as the number of foreign tourists expanded 3.7 percent from the previous month, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) said on Monday. The increase, which came after contraction for two consecutive months following Bangkok bombing incidents in mid-August, was mainly a result of improved Chinese tourist numbers, Xinhua quoted the central bank as saying.

Thailand embarks on new economic drive Jakarta Post 19th Nov 2015
The Thai government is gearing up for tighter competition in the region with a host of measures to drive economic development, setting out mega projects as a springboard to get out of the middle income trap and becoming the industry and trade hub in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

Energy

Prayut delivers Thailand's climate pledge at Paris summit Bangkok Post 1st Dec 2015
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday clarified Thailand’s commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20-25% by 2030 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. In his brief speech at the opening of COP21 on the outskirts of the French capital, Gen Prayut announced that Thailand would support a new universal agreement and collaborate with the international community to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. He expected the climate talks to yield a successful result.

Vietnam, Thailand seek stronger marine cooperatio Viet Nam Net 30th Nov 2015
Vietnam – Thailand cooperation in managing marine environment and resources was the focus of discussion at a recent scientific workshop held in Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. The conference was organised by Chulalongkorn University’s ASEAN Research Centre and Centre for Vietnamese Knowledge and Language with the attendance of Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Nguyen Tat Thanh, representatives from the Thai parliament and several foreign embassies in Thailand besides scientists, researchers and students from Chulalongkorn University and many other tertiary training establishments.

Thailand, Japan to sign emissions-offset agreement Bangkok Post 18th Nov 2015
Japan plans to sign an agreement with Thailand as part of a programme to offset its emissions in exchange for clean-energy and energy-saving technologies. The two countries plan to hold a signing ceremony in Japan on Thursday, according to a document provided by the Ministry of the Environment.

Ly Yong Phat in Talks to Supply Power to Thailand Khmer Times 1st Dec 2015
Tycoon Ly Yong Phat’s L.Y.P. Group is talking with the Thai government’s Energy Policy and Planning Office (Eppo) to supply Thailand with 2,000 megawatts from his planned Koh Kong coal-fired power plant, and hopes to sign a deal early next year. Construction on the plant, a joint-venture between L.Y.P. Group and Thailand’s state-owned Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holdings would begin soon after securing a deal to supply power, Mr. Ly told Khmer Times yesterday. “Thailand’s government plans to buy 5,000 MW of power in 2020. I think that with their purchasing plan, they will buy 2,000 MW from us,” he said. “I do hope that in the next one or two months, we will know the result as their government is still working on internal issues. If they are ready, we can sell to them.” The Bangkok Post quoted Eppo director general Twarath Sutbutr saying the office planned to negotiate with the Cambodian government to buy power from the proposed 2000-MW coal-fired power plant in Koh Kong. Thailand also plans to purchase power from two hydroelectric plants in Laos with a combined capacity of 1,318 MW, according to the same report. Ith Praing, Secretary of State for Cambodia’s Mines and Energy Ministry could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mr. Ly said and MoU on electricity cooperation had been signed, but some clarifications were needed.

Renewable energy around the world: opportunities in Asia Pacific Out-Law 30th Nov 2015
urrently, the US and China are the world’s top producers of renewable energy, with China’s five-year outlook for additional wind and solar installation set to double that of the US. India and Brazil have also been rising up the global ranks, with abundant natural resources and supportive governments. India’s government in particular has been strongly behind a transition to renewable energy production, with ambitious targets and large inflows of foreign investment. In this special series of forward-looking articles, renewable energy experts at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, outline the current status of, and challenges and opportunities for, the development of renewable energy resources in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Australia. You can also find out about developments in Europe in this companion piece. Asia Pacific What is the current status of the Asia Pacific renewables market? China has the strongest market for renewables in Asia Pacific, moving from 1st to 2nd place worldwide in the latest EY Renewable Industry attractiveness index. Since 2010, China has had the world’s largest installed onshore wind capacity, with a total of 115.6GW installed as of the end of 2014. However, poor grid planning and wind data monitoring in earlier years have meant that many wind projects do not generate at planned levels, if at all, either due to lack of grid connections or lack of suitable wind. Solar has become increasingly popular in Asia Pacific over the last five years. For example, Thailand has significantly increased its solar capacity over the last five years from practically zero to a current installed capacity just shy of 3GW as a direct consequence of government policy, and there are ambitions to take this up to 6GW by 2036. Japan has also seen a push towards solar post-Fukushima with a new feed-in tariff approved in 2012, although that tariff has since been reduced due to the success of the programme. Total installed solar capacity in Japan increased from just under 5GW in 2011 to over 23GW in 2014. Large dam hydro power plants provide a large capacity of hydro electricity in the region. However, these projects are often controversial and some governments do not consider hydro as a form of renewable energy.

Wat Yan Nawa and the use of solar energy Thai Visa 27th Nov 2015
Wat Yan Nawa is the first temple in Bangkok which has turned to solar cells as a source of alternative energy source to save power bills. It also hopes to set an example for other temples to follow on its foot step. At an investment cost of about 1.4 million baht, 96 solar cell panels were installed on top of the Mahajesada building on the compound of Wat Yan Nawa. Energy produced from the panels will do directly to the invertors or transformers which will turn the direct current into alternating current for household use. Although traditional electricity source is still being used in the temple, the use of solar energy has saved the temple about 20,000 baht in electricity bill each month, said Phra Promvachirayarn, abbot of the temple. Phra Khru Wimonpanyakhun, abbot of Wat Pa Srisaengtham in Ubon Ratchathani, said that the 96 solar cell panels produce about 27 kilowatt of energy or 120 units each day. This, he said, has slashed about 20,000 baht from normal power cost of 300,000 baht per month. While admitting that initial investment cost is high, Phra Promvachirayarn said that, in the long run, solar energy is worth the investment.

Federal-Mogul ups stake in Parts Zone Deal Street Asia 26th Nov 2015
US-based auto-parts maker decides to acquire a majority stake in Parts Zone to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia. Fortune Parts Industry, the listed plastic auto-parts manufacturer, sets up five joint venture companies to invest in renewable energy business. Federal-Mogul ups stake in Thailand’s Parts Zone Federal-Mogul Motorparts, manufacturer and distributor of auto parts under Federal Mogul Holdings Corporation, has acquired additional stake in distributor Parts Zone (Thailand) Co Ltd from Loxley PCL for an undisclosed amount. Federal-Mogul will hold 51 per cent, Loxley will hold 46 per cent while Wachira Yongyai, managing director of Parts Zone (Thailand), will hold the balance. “In a strategic expansion of our distribution footprint in the Asia-Pacific, Parts Zone will serve as a key platform for Motorparts’ premium-branded products in Thailand and the greater Asian region. We see our expanded presence there as pivotal to our continued growth in the region, especially given the anticipated creation of the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of 2015,” Dan Ninivaggi, CEO of Federal-Mogul Motorparts, said.

LSIS boosts cooperation with Asian electricity authorities Korea Times 24th Nov 2015
LSIS, the nation's largest electricity equipment maker, formerly known as LS Industrial Systems, said Tuesday it has discussed cooperation in the smart energy business with several electricity executives from Southeast Asia. The company said it welcomed a group of high-ranking officials of electricity authorities from eight Asian countries ― Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Bangladesh, Nepal and Kazakhstan ― to its headquarters in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province, to inspect its smart grid facilities here. The eight countries have seen their energy consumption continuously increase in recent years, the company said. "LSIS has led the global smart energy market based on converged smart technologies connected to existing electricity infrastructure," President Han Jai-hoon said. "We expect to contribute to the Southeast Asian countries in helping them to expand their electricity infrastructure and establish smart energy management systems." The visit was arranged under an agreement between LSIS and Korea International Cooperation Agency to introduce Korea's expertise in electricity and energy to developing Asian countries. In a meeting with the LSIS head, the visiting executives discussed application of smart grid technologies such as microgrids, energy storage systems, factory energy management systems, building energy management systems and solar power arrays. The visitors also showed interest in LSIS' eco-friendly energy management technologies, raising the possibility of new business opportunities for the company.

International solar community to gather in Thailand November 25-26 Eco-Business 23rd Nov 2015
The International Solar Community will gather at the IMPACT Arena Exhibition and Convention Center in Bangkok November 25-26 at the Solar & Off-Grid Renewables Southeast Asia conference to explore the huge on and off-grid market opportunities in the region. The conference aims to accelerate the deployment of solar in Southeast Asia, and break down the barriers to development - financial, political, and technological - by bringing together key stakeholders, including investors, policy makers, developers, energy companies, financiers, NGOs, manufacturers and suppliers. South East Asia has numerous solar projects in the pipeline and many government incentives to encourage solar in their energy mix, making the region a serious opportunity for solar development. With the various projects and initiatives recently launched, the future of the South East Asian solar market looks bright. The Thai Government has committed to adding 4.5GW of solar by 2036, announcing a new programme to grant licences to develop and operate solar farms with a combined capacity of 600MW to private developers. Sena Development Plc, Thailand main property company, stated recently its aims to boost solar power capacity to 100 megawatts by 2019 and Thai utility Superblock Plc’s recent acquisition of a solar energy business of SPP Six Co will increase their power generation capacity to 515MW by end of the year. The Thai Government, the CEO of Sena Development Plc and the Chairman and CEO of Superblock Plc have confirmed their attendance.

Kris Energy progresses with Gulf of Thailand discovery Energy Voice 23rd Nov 2015
Indepedent producer Kris Energy has received Singapore government approval to produce from the Rossukon oil discovery in the Gulf of Thailand. The production area application was approved by agency responsible for Thailand’s upstream petroleum industry. The Rossukon series of discoveries are located in the G6/48 licence over the Karawake Basin to the north of the G10/48 licence, where the KrisEnergy-operated Wassana oil field commenced production in August. Cayman-registered Kris has drilled two exploration wells and two intentional sidetrack wells in the Rossukon area in the first half of 2015. Each well encountered oil and gas, adding to volumes from the original Rossukon discovery made in 2009. Chris Gibson-Robinson, director exploration and production, said: “We have six licences in the Gulf of Thailand, four of which are now in production following the start-up of the Wassana and Nong Yao fields this year. “The approval of the Rossukon PAA is a step closer to getting our fifth field into development and production and underpins our strategy to make the Gulf of Thailand a core area in the KrisEnergy portfolio.” KrisEnergy is also the operator of Block A offshore Cambodia where it is developing the Apsara oil field.

Thailand prepares for 2018 smart grid pilot launch Metering and Smart Energy International 20th Nov 2015
The Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) of Thailand is set to rollout a smart grid pilot project in Pattaya by early 2018 in a bid to improve citywide energy efficiency. According to the Bangkok Post, the 1 billion baht AMI project is the first in Thailand, and will allow PEA to understand consumer behaviour and utilise behavioural data to improve service delivery. Under the project, PEA will install 120 000 smart meters in homes, and construct a data centre for the processing of data. Pongsakorn Yuthagovit, PEA's deputy director for system planning said the authority chose to implement the smart grid pilot project in Pattaya due to the high-energy consumption rate in the popular tourist city. The project will allow consumers to access reports of their energy consumption on mobile devices as well as via PEA’s web portal. The project is aimed at encouraging consumers to adopt energy-efficiency measures that can help them save money on their energy bills and offset price increases. The deputy director confirmed the authority will also use data analytics to produce a forecast of energy demand, savings and prediction, enabling efficient management of electricity generation.

Financial Services

Ministry to streamline foreign baht bond approvals The Nation 1st Dec 2015
Beginning IN January, the Finance Ministry will shorten the approval process for foreign interests looking to issue bonds in baht from three times a year to a monthly basis. "As a result of shortening the approval process, we hope that CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam] countries will raise more funds through this channel," the ministry's permanent secretary, Somchai Sujjapongse, said yesterday in his keynote speech at the "International Capital Markets Conference" in Bangkok. "Nevertheless, we still have to monitor the amount and the timing of the baht bonds that are issued because of the risk of capital outflow," he said outside the conference, which was held by the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the IMF Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. He said Laos was currently the only CMLV country to have issued baht bonds. Its government has raised around Bt9.95 billion worth of sovereign debt from Thailand and will raise more funds by issuing baht-denominated bonds worth Bt12 billion before the end of this year. This is the fourth issuance of baht-denominated bonds by Laos' Ministry of Finance after the first issue in May 2013.

Thailand: Mobile insurance app clinches US$2 mln funding Asia Insurance Review 30th Nov 2015
Claim Di, a Thai startup which has launched a mobile app which facilitates drivers' insurance claims, has secured US$2 million in funding. This is the largest ever Series A funding to be received by a Thai startup, the company said in a statement. Series A funding is the first round of stock offered by a company during its early stage to venture capital investors. Mr Kittinan Anuphan, the CEO of Anywhere 2 Go, which is Claim Di’s developer, said that the funds will be used for software development, marketing, and launching new services to drive domestic and global expansion, according to the company statement. Claim Di will be launching three new services next year, namely: Claim Di Assist (a roadside assistance service for drivers), Claim Di Call (an outsourced call service for insurance companies), and Claim Di Bike (a car-accident survey service under and individual-model basis, to facilitate accident surveyors in terms of payment and benefits for policyholder claimants).

TCG wants amendments to extend loan guarantees to non-banks The Nation 25th Nov 2015
The Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) has asked the Finance Ministry to amend regulations to facilitate loan guarantees to non-banks. "Non-banks such as Srisawad Power want TCG to guarantee loans to their clients, and we consider that nano-finance should be guaranteed in order to help low-income people access lending in the financial system. We hope the regulation amendment will be known early next year," said Wichet Warakul, senior executive vice president of TCG. Based on the assumption that the Thai economy will show recovery next year, the trend of non-performing loans guaranteed by TCG should improve as well. The rate of NPLs is 8 per cent of TCG's total loan-guarantee portfolio of Bt300 billion. He said the figure might climb but was not expected to reach double digits.

Ministry mulls tweaking nanofinance Bangkok Post 25th Nov 2015
The Finance Ministry may relax conditions for the granting of nanofinance operating licences to allow more retail players to enter the industry, says a senior official. The official, who declined to be named, said all 21 licensed lenders in nanofinance, which began a year ago, are large corporations. The government believes the sector should be open to medium-sized lenders to heat up competition. The source said the ministry may relax the minimum registered capital requirement from above 50 million baht. Another condition for nanofinance operators is they must maintain a debt-to-equity ratio not exceeding 1:7, and their interest rate plus operating costs and penalty rate must not exceed 36%.

Thailand: Insurers keen to raise and liberalise auto premiums Asia Insurance Review 24th Nov 2015
The Thai General Insurance Association is eyeing premium increases for some vehicle categories, to better reflect actual repair costs. The association's President, Mr Anon Vangvasu, said that premiums should be increased for cars with higher repair costs, reported The Bangkok Post. Statistics show that the highest costs are for repairs to vehicles with engines below 1,500cc and for pickup trucks Mr Anon also said that the association wants the Office of the Insurance Commission to allow insurers to set their own premium rates. Prices for automobile parts have risen by about 10% every year, but insurance premiums have not been adjusted accordingly.

Thailand: New regulatory chief focuses on regulations to hone competitiveness Asia Insurance Review 19th Nov 2015
Mr Sutthipol Taweechaikarn, the newly appointed Secretary-General of the Office of Insurance Commission (OIC), aims to strengthen the insurance industry's regulatory framework so as to sharpen the competitiveness of the sector. Mr Sutthipol, who assumed the OIC's top position on 1 November replacing Mr Pravej Ongartsittigul, plans to improve industry regulations by amending existing laws and creating new ones, while striking a balance with business operations and consumer protection, reported The Bangkok Post. For instance, the OIC plans to develop a new law, the Marine Insurance Act.

Mobile networks team up for e-payment Bangkok Post 18th Nov 2015
Mobile users will be able to conduct money transfers across the three leading mobile networks from next month, thanks to the collaboration of mobile money systems among operators. The development by the three major mobile operators -- Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move -- is an attempt to nudge the country towards a cashless society. Starting from Dec 1, mobile users can directly transfer money across the three mobile networks to a receiver simply by entering the receiver's mobile number without a bank account. The maximum amount of transfers is limited to 10,000 baht per transaction, with maximum transfers capped at 30,000 baht per day. Operators will charge a fee of five baht per transaction, good until the year-end.

Study shows growing preference for mobile shopping The Nation 18th Nov 2015
The growth of Thailand's eCommerce industry continues as consumers show growing preference for mobile payments, according to the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2015 . The study revealed that two-thirds of Thai consumers shop online at least once a month, and more than half (53 per cent) have used their mobile devices to shop online. The study identified trends in |payments behavior among consumers |in six Southeast Asian markets including Thailand. It showed categories where consumers are more likely |to shop via mobile devices as well |as determining emerging categories. "Though Thailand's eCommerce industry is still in its nascent stage, it is growing rapidly. Categories such as fashion and accessories, movie tickets, and bill payments will become key growth drivers as they have low online share but high frequency of purchase. The high proportion of transactions made via smartphones also presents a strong opportunity for growth," said SuripongTantiyanon, Visa Country Manager, Thailand.

Food & Agriculture

Thailand to boost rice shipments to Iran The Public Ledger 2nd Dec 2015
Thailand expects to sell 200,000 tonnes of rice to Iran, following a delegation visit to the Middle East, the country’s commerce ministry said on Thursday (November 26). Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maesincee said Iran has expressed interest in importing 200,000 tonnes of rice from Thailand and is in talks withThai rice exporters, but details of the deal remain unclear.

Thailand asks Russia to buy 80,000 tonnes of rubber The Nation 18th Nov 2015
Thailand has encouraged Russia to sign a contract for the purchase of 80,000 tonnes of rubber worth US$139.1 million soon. This will ensure supplies for Russian automobile and aircraft production. The Russian government has also agreed to persuade its private enterprises to invest in Thailand.

Thailand maps out plan to become a top-five exporter of halal foods by 2020 The Nation 2nd Dec 2015
The Department of Industrial Promotion's National Food Institute (NFI) plans to pursue export opportunities for halal foods in accordance with a five-year (2016-2020) strategic plan. For fiscal 2016, the Industry Ministry has budgeted Bt180 million to promote exports of halal products. The department will also expedite development plans for halal products of small and medium-sized enterprises and Otop (One Tambon, One Product) to propel Thailand towards being among the top five halal exporters by 2020.

Livestock and aqua sectors push imports of soybean in Thailand Far Eastern Agriculture 24th Nov 2015
Thailand’s soybean imports have gone up 34 per cent this year, propelled by the demands from livestock, poultry and aquaculture sectors. Imports rose from 1.798mn metric tonnes (MT) to 2.411mn MT in the marketing year 2014-2015, said the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Health & Life Sciences

Thailand's healthcare system considered a 'model worth following' Thai Visa 27th Nov 2015
THAILAND’S universal health coverage scheme looks set to become a model for other developing nations to follow, it has been revealed. The revelation came during a meeting between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Public Health Ministry yesterday.

Stigma, budget threats still hamper HIV/Aids struggle The Nation 30th Nov 2015
Despite growing public understanding, the stigma surrounding HIV/Aids patients is still widespread and unrelenting. Large numbers continue to face mandatory blood tests before they can be recruited to a firm or get accepted for ordination at temples. Children are not spared. They have trouble finding a place at schools as soon as others learn of their infection.

Overuse of antibiotics killing Thais at high rate Bangkok Post 29th Nov 2015
Up to 38,000 Thais could be dying from antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually because of over prescription and the prevalence of the drugs in food and the water supply, research has found. Drug System Monitoring Mechanism Development Centre manager Niyada Kiatying-Angsulee said her research found Thailand had a worryingly high fatality rate due to antibiotic resistance, but the problem was hidden because the cause of death was usually listed as something else.

Thai Cabinet nod for fund to back 10 targeted sectors Thai Visa News 25th Nov 2015
Cabinet has approved in principle a Finance Ministry proposal to set up a Bt10-billion fund to boost national competitiveness and new investment projects in 10 “future” industries targeted by the government. The medical sector is one of the 10 sectors covered. Companies supported by the BOI currently get a corporate income tax exemption for up to eight years. If they invest in new projects that are covered by the government’s 10 “future” industries, they will get additional incentives from the Finance Ministry via the national competitiveness fund. The proposed fund will also provide personal income tax breaks for researchers and other experts to encourage expatriates to work here for know-how |transfer in the 10 targeted industries. Two committees will be set up to implement this policy aimed at large multinational firms. One will be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the other by deputy premier for economic affairs Somkid Jatusripitak.

Thailand dengue outbreak: 5,000 more cases reported this week, blood donations needed Outbreak News Today 25th Nov 2015
Thailand health officials reported an additional 5,000 dengue fever cases during the past week as the mosquito borne disease epidemic in the country continues on it’s heavy path this season. The Bureau of Epidemiology now puts the case tally at 117,012 cases all from 77 provinces, an increase of approximately 200 percent compared to last year, including 113 deaths, up from 108 a week ago.

ICT

Thailand optimistic about getting ICT boost The Nation 1st Dec 2015
Thailand expects the recent regional IT ministers meeting will lead to further joint information and communication technology developments - including e-commerce and a smart city project - with Asian countries. The 15th Asean Telecommuni-cations and IT Ministers Meeting (TELMIN) in Vietnam on Thursday and Friday. ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana met with his Asean counterparts and ICT ministers from dialogue partners such as Japan, China and South Korea.

CAT Telecom prepares to launch data center subsidiary in Thailand Data Center Dynamics 30th Nov 2015
Thailand’s state-owned telecommunications provider CAT Telecom is planning to launch a data center business in partnership with local market experts. According to the Bangkok Post, the business will operate as a joint venture between CAT – which will own a 49 percent stake – and two yet unnamed private companies. The venture will develop and lease colocation facilities aimed at government and commercial customers in Thailand. It is expected to enter the market in the middle of 2016.

Line Launches First R&D Unit in Thailand Street Wise Journal 29th Nov 2015
Line Corporation has launched its first research and development unit for mobile service applications in Thailand. The unit is the first in the country and the company’s first outside of Japan. Under the new facility, the Thai operating unit will be able to develop new services and mobile apps to meet the demand of local customers. Because of Thailand’s strong engineering and technical skills, the country is the ideal pick for the facilities.

Thai 4G funds to be spent on infrastructure IT Web 27th Nov 2015
Thailand's prime minister said yesterday that $2.26 billion raised from a 4G mobile licence auction would be used to fund infrastructure projects and to help low-income people, including farmers. Thailand's leading mobile operators Advance Info Service and True Corp won the auction for fourth-generation mobile frequency licences on 12 November, which was held by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.

E-commerce market on path of growth The Nation 19th Nov 2015
Thailand's total e-commerce market will be valued at Bt2.1 trillion by the end of this year, a 3.65-per-cent growth year on year. Computer and electronics, beauty and cosmetics as well as fashion are potential categories for e-commerce in Thailand. The Thai e-commerce market in 2014 was valued at Bt2.03 trillion, with business-to-business (B2B) deals worth Bt1.23 trillion, business-to-consumer (B2C) valued at Bt0.41 trillion and business-to-government (B2G) valued 0.31 trillion.

CAT keen on data centre joint venture Bangkok Post 30th Nov 2015
CAT Telecom plans to set up a joint venture with private telecom companies to carry out its data centre business plan by mid-2016. The development will tap into the growing and lucrative data centre market and will comply with the State Enterprises Policy Commission's ( superboard) recommendations. The state telecom will hold a 49% stake in the joint venture company and prospective partners a combined 51%, said CAT acting president Col Sanpachai Huvananda. Five telecom companies have proposed participation in CAT'S data centre business. "We will select only two companies for the partnership," he said.

NBTC sets out rules for 900-MHz bids Bangkok Post 25th Nov 2015
The bidding time for next month's auctions of two licences on the 900-megahertz spectrum will be divided into two phases: 9am-9pm and midnight-6am. Bidders will be allowed a three-hour break inside their auction rooms after the first 12-hour phase of bidding, due to start on Dec 15. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's telecom committee yesterday approved the new bidding rules, NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said. He said the regulator had learned from the Nov 11 auctions for the 1800-MHz spectrum, which took 86 bidding rounds over 30 hours.

KBank helps AIS improve e-commerce Bangkok Post 25th Nov 2015
Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS) has teamed up with Kasikornbank (KBank) on a payment gateway, an e-commerce application that lets online merchants accept credit cards and other forms of internet transactions via the mPay website. The move is aimed at serving increased mobile commerce and encouraging a cashless society, said Supreecha Limpikanjanakowit, managing director of Advanced mPay, the mobile payment arm of AIS. The service will also complement the Bank of Thailand's financial policy and the government's digital economy initiative, he said. A payment gateway is a service that authorises credit card payments for online and offline businesses. It is the equivalent of a physical point-of-sale terminal in a shop or restaurant.

Infrastructure

India-Myanmar road pact in March to boost economy: Nitin Gadkari Economic Times 2nd Dec 2015
India will sign a road agreement with Myanmar and Thailand in March next in an attempt to link the North-East to the two East-Asian countries, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said today. "We'll have an agreement on road linkage from the North-East to Myanmar and Thailand in March next year. This will not only bring people of both countries closer, but enhance trade, business, health, education and tourism," Gadkari said at the closing ceremony of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Friendship Motor Rally for regional integration.

Thailand Government plans infrastructure programme World Highways 1st Dec 2015
Major plans are in hand in Thailand for transport infrastructure development. The country’s Ministry of Transport is revising its construction plans for a series of key transport infrastructure projects at present. Several selected plans will then be presented to the cabinet in mid-December 2015. A total of five public-private partnership (PPP) ventures are among projects that will be re-submitted to the cabinet for approval. Two of these PPP projects are highways that will cost an estimated US$3.9 billion.

Thailand to launch big infrastructure projects next year Reuters 30th Nov 2015
Increased spending on infrastructure projects by Thailand's military government should help boost economic growth rates by about 1 percentage point over the next two years, the transport minister said on Monday. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told Reuters that some 20 infrastructure projects worth nearly 1.8 trillion baht ($50.2 billion) and covering rail, roads, air transport and ports throughout Thailand should get underway before 2018.

Thai-Chinese rail on fast track Bangkok Post 28th Nov 2015
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says the construction of the delayed Thai-Chinese development railway project must start soon despite slow negotiations between Thai and Chinese officials. "This project must materialise even if there are some hiccups in the investment details," said Gen Prayut after meeting ministers yesterday. He closely follows the progress of major projects under each ministry, and the Transport Ministry has been a major focus because investment schemes in this sector are meant to boost the economy. Gen Prayut said Laos had already signed a contract for a railway linking to the Thai-Chinese route.

Iran Seeks Thai Infrastructure Investment Break Bulk 27th Nov 2015
Iranian ministers have welcomed a delegation from the Thai government to discuss increased investment in a range of infrastructure projects and methods to boost bilateral trade. Trade between Thailand and Iran has averaged about US$600 million over the last year, but officials are keen to double this figure to US$1.2 billion over the next three years.

Thailand plans $2.8 bln infrastructure fund by year-end - finmin Reuters 19th Nov 2015
Thailand plans to launch an infrastructure fund worth 100 billion baht ($2.79 billion) by the end of this year, the finance minister said on Thursday. The "Thailand Future Fund" will seek cabinet approval over the next few weeks, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong told reporters.

Govt plans B100bn SET-traded infrastructure fund Bangkok Post 19th Nov 2015
The Finance Ministry will propose a 100-billion-baht “Thailand Future Fund” to mobilise capital for infrastructure projects next year. Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said the fund's investment instruments would be sold to both local and foreign investors, as well as institutional buyers, such as the Government Pension Fund. The government will guarantee a minimum return on investment. He said a new law is needed to establish the fund, but hopes it will be traded on the Stock Exchange of Thailand by the end of this year.

Thailand, China agree on railways Bangkok Post 18th Nov 2015
The cabinet approved a draft cooperation framework Tuesday for the Thai-Chinese railway development project. Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the draft framework covered the construction of 1.435-metre standard-gauge railways along two routes.

TPP

Thailand’s four main objections to the TPP Thailand Business News 1st Dec 2015
While the TPP will take many years to actually implement, it is likely to mean a major change in trade relations between the USA and TPP members. Nonetheless, the fact that Thailand is not presently set to join the TPP has caused concern and confusion among Thailand’s business leaders.

Thailand Says ‘Highly Likely’ It Will Seek TPP Membership Malaysian Digest 28th Nov 2015
Thailand is “highly likely” to seek membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but would first need to weigh up the impact of the free-trade accord on its export-led economy, a deputy prime minister said on Friday. The pact currently has 12 members and would slash tariffs in a bloc comprising countries from Canada, Australia and Japan to Mexico, Vietnam and Chile in a trade area of 800 million people worth about 40 percent of the global economy.

Vietnam

First Vietnam-Thailand energy forum opens VietnamPlus 23rd Nov 2015
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Cao Quoc Hung has stressed the need to set up a dialogue mechanism in the energy sector between Vietnam and Thailand. At the first Vietnam-Thailand Energy Forum, which opened in the central coastal province of Binh Dinh on November 23, Hung said that the event is to concretise the joint statement on energy bilateral cooperation signed in 2012. The two-day forum will provide a valuable opportunity for Vietnamese and Thai policymakers and enterprises to discuss solutions and plans to promote collaboration in the field, Hung said. He expected to receive positive information on specific activities and cooperation projects between the two countries, thus helping deepen the effective cooperation relations. Inspector General of the Thai Ministry of Energy Athipat Bamroong said he believes that the forum will put forth measures to remove headwinds and enhance energy investment. Participants heard presentations and discussions on important issues, including overview of Vietnam and Thailand’s energy, oil and gas cooperation, efficiency of implemented energy projects and orientations for the two countries’ energy development in the future.