Ministries to be required to follow new laws once Constitution promulgated The Nation 6th Apr 2017
All ministries will be required to follow new laws and regulations as stipulated in the new charter once the Constitution is promulgated, with the Justice Ministry tracking on a monthly basis each ministry’s progress. Ministerial permanent secretaries and the charter drafters met at Government House on Wednesday to discuss changes to the legal approach following the new charter. Justice Ministry permanent secretary Charnchao Chaiyanukij said the charter’s Article 77 requires that any legislation be passed based on necessity. The authority must also listen to parties likely to be affected by any upcoming law, make the hearing result publicly available, and evaluate the outcomes of the said laws.
Six changes in constitution Bangkok Post 6th Apr 2017
Changes were made to six sections of the draft constitution after it passed the referendum in August, the promulgated charter has shown. The Royal Gazette published the new charter on Thursday after it was promulgated by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. After the draft passed the referendum in August, it was submitted to the King for approval. Cabinet ministers said the King had made some suggestions about the sections involving royal prerogatives and the changes had nothing to do with the rights and liberties of the people.
Abhisit still concerned about political party restrictions The Nation 6th Apr 2017
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday he was still concerned about the current limitations on party activities after the constitution was promulgated, but added that he believed that the junta would gradually loosen its grip. In a press briefing after a Buddhist ceremony marking party’s 71st anniversary, the former prime minister said his party had been working unofficially to recruit new members as well as develop policies despite the law limiting political activity.
Pheu Thai prepares for political process under new charter: Watana The Nation 6th Apr 2017
Watana Muangsook, a leading figure of Pheu Thai Party, said on Thursday that after the constitution’s promulgation the junta technically should function as an acting government preparing to pass the baton on to a legitimate government. Watana also said the junta should stop exercising its absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter and it would risk its moral authority if it did not. He warned that if the junta continued using such power, future governments would have difficulty being effective.
Thai king signs constitution, paving way for election Reuters 6th Apr 2017
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn signed a new constitution at a glittering palace ceremony on Thursday, an essential step toward holding an election that the military government has promised to restore democracy after a 2014 coup. The constitution is Thailand's 20th since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932 and critics say it will still give the generals a powerful say over Thai politics for years, if not decades. The latest changes, made public for the first time when the constitution was published in the Royal Gazette to become law, also underlined the king's power in the event of a crisis, analysts said. "May the Thai people be united in following and protecting the constitution to maintain democracy and their sovereignty," an officer with the Royal Scribes Bureau said at the ceremony, on behalf of the king.
Election due late in 2018 Bangkok Post 4th Apr 2017
The general election will be held in November next year at the latest now that the date has been set for the promulgation of Thailand's 20th constitution, according to the roadmap set by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). In a schedule announced in the Royal Gazette on Monday, His Majesty the King will promulgate the charter in an elaborate ceremony at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall at 3pm on Thursday, starting the clock ticking to the polls 19 months from that date or no later than Nov 6, 2018. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday the countdown would begin after that date and the roadmap remained the same. "As far as I know, His Majesty will sign the constitution on April 6 and I will countersign it as prime minister," he said.
Meeting to discuss ministries' duties under new charter Bangkok Post 4th Apr 2017
A meeting of the permanent secretaries of all ministries will be held at Government House tomorrow to discuss their responsibilites under the new constitution, which will take effect from April 6, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreangam said on Tuesday. Mr Wissanu said some work procedures will be different from the previous charters. For instance, there are changes to the way new legislation is proposed. There are also more administrative procedures that must be handled carefully, he said. He said the cabinet will also have to follow new work procedures.
Count me out of reconciliation, says Thailand's Thaksin Reuters 31st Mar 2017
Defense & Security
Thailand's ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday accused the junta of bullying him over a $500 million tax bill and said it should count him out of reconciliation efforts. Thaksin has lived in exile since being overthrown in 2006, but his populist movement remains at the heart of political division in Thailand. The army seized power from a government led by his sister in 2014 in the name of ending turmoil. Thaksin's rare public comments, made in a Facebook post, came days after the Thai revenue department sent him a 17 billion baht ($500 million) tax bill over the sale of shares in a telecoms company more than a decade ago. Thaksin said it was the latest example of him and his family being "blamed and bullied". "For the reconciliation process, I urge every side to please remove me from the equation," Thaksin said. "Those in power also shouldn't use miracles and go out of their way just to get rid of me."
Thailand to get submarines within six years, if Cabinet gives nod The Nation 5th Apr 2017
Thailand is poised to get its first submarines in six years after a wait of more than seven decades, to guard its vulnerable security and economic interests, the Navy said on Wednesday. “We have not had any underwater safeguard mechanism for a really long time,” Navy spokesperson Vice Admiral Jumpol Lumpikanon said. “The submarines’ mission is not only to defend and safeguard [security] but also to explore new things.” The Navy has proposed to set aside Bt18 billion from the national budget to buy three Yuan Class S26 T submarines from China, but the proposal has been hanging fire for years. The Cabinet of the military-backed government of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, said it agreed with idea to have submarines but the approval to kick-start the deal has not yet proceeded.
Hotline to link up Cambodia Bangkok Post 31st Mar 2017
The Thai and Cambodian defence forces will open a hotline to hasten bilateral cooperation, the joint border meeting in Cambodia decided yesterday. The hotline will enable the two sides to establish rapid communication at both the decision-making and operation levels, said Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit. It was among agreements reached at the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) meeting in Siem Reap, attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who represented the Thai armed forces, and his Cambodian counterparts. Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh said bilateral relations were at their most cordial in many years and pledged to work to maintain the strong ties. He said he agreed with the move to establish closer contact via the hotline. The project aims to fight the spread of illegal drugs trafficked across the border.
The New BOI Act promotes technology and offers additional incentives The Nation 6th Apr 2017
Investment in Asia, especially in Thailand, is growing significantly. Therefore, the Thai government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has encouraged related government agencies to take measures to boost investment in the country, improve the investment environment to be ready for “Thailand 4.0” and to become the world’s investment destination. The Office of the Board of Investment or the BOI is the government agencies playing an essential role in promoting investment in Thailand and propelling the Thai economy in accordance with the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan, which puts emphasis on developing human capital, science, technology and innovation as well as strengthening the country’s economy. BOI has forged new investment tools for attracting investment to the country by launching the Amended Investment Promotion Act (No. 4), which entered into force on January 25, 2017. This amended Act from the BOI has specified 10 targeted industries and gives first priority to “Human Resources and Technologies”
Prayut reassures investors on EEC The Nation 5th Apr 2017
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday assured investors that his government was firmly committed to developing the Eastern Economic Corridor on a long-term and sustainable basis and would warmly welcome participation by the private sector. He made the remarks during his visit to the eastern province of Rayong with his ministers to follow up on EEC development and the upgrade of U-tapao International Airport. He met with representatives of businesses who wanted to learn more about the EEC project. The EEC policy committee yesterday resolved to designate U-tapao and its surroundings as an “Eastern Aviation City”, whose 6,500 rai (1,040 hectares) of land would be developed at a cost of Bt200 billion over five years. The EEC draft bill will be tabled before the Cabinet at its Tuesday meeting.
Thailand vulnerable to 'boiling frog' crisis Bangkok Post 5th Apr 2017
Economic experts have urged the private and industrial sectors to quickly modernise and ease the impact of the Thailand 4.0 economic development model. Apichat Satitniramai, a lecturer at Thammasat University's Faculty of Economics, said 70% of Thai factories lack innovation and are not manufacturing local brands, so are heavily affected during world economic slowdowns. In addition, a decline in foreign investment in Thailand was the result of a lack of competitiveness when vying with other countries in the global market. To address the problem, the government should expedite efforts to boost the country's industrial infrastructure such as skilled labour as well as better technology and innovation which would help persuade foreigners to invest in Thailand.
Emerging Market Bid Is So Hot Thailand Faces U.S. Watchlist Risk Bloomberg.com 5th Apr 2017
Thailand is no stranger when it comes to hot money. This time around, officials have a new dynamic to worry about when it comes to cooling inflows from abroad: Donald Trump. The Southeast Asian nation has seen $3.42 billion flood in this year, an influx that’s driven the baht to its highest since mid-2015. The problem is that any overt steps to curb gains in the exchange rate could draw the attention of Trump administration officials probing trading partners for measures that contribute to U.S. trade deficits. The current dilemma is a contrast with the years of Federal Reserve quantitative easing, when Thailand and other emerging markets took steps to slow capital inflows that made their exports less competitive. Ensuring against U.S. retaliation may mean either living with the baht gains or coming up with steps not linked to currency transactions. “Any easing back on foreign-exchange intervention by the BOT could result in further near-term baht strength, in the absence of any meaningful pick up in outflows,” Khoon Goh, Singapore-based head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said Tuesday. “They are worried about baht appreciation. Cutting supply of short-term bills probably won’t have much of an effect.”
Thai PM says 'don't worry' about U.S. trade policy yet Reuters 4th Apr 2017
Thailand's prime minister said on Tuesday he had told officials to prepare for changes in U.S. trade policy under President Donald Trump, but it was too soon for the big exporter to worry. As in other Asian countries which run large trade surpluses with the United States, concern has spread in Thailand since Trump last week said he had ordered a study of the causes of U.S. trade deficits. "We should take it easy as there are no formal words about that yet," junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters. "I have asked deputy prime ministers and relevant agencies to look into it as we have to be prepared ... but don't worry too much about that now."
Govt readies for US deal The Nation 3rd Apr 2017
Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn yesterday said problems between Thailand and the United States could be thrashed out in ongoing negotiations on a trade and investment partnership known as the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). She said senior officials from the two sides had held a meeting in Bangkok yesterday. Her comments came after US President Donald Trump on Friday sought to push his crusade for fair trade and reclaiming manufacturing jobs for the US by ordering a study into the causes of US trade deficits with 16 trade partners, including Thailand. Pimchanok Wonkhorporn, director of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said the Commerce Ministry was reviewing sensitive areas of trade issues with the US, including “intellectual property, tax incentives and non-tariff barriers”.
Thailand on Trump's trade hit list Bangkok Post 1st Apr 2017
Thailand is among 16 countries that President Donald Trump has singled out in an order calling for an investigation into the US trade imbalance. Mr Trump also promised on Friday to crack down on "foreign importers that cheat", signing two executive orders that he said would lead to a historic reversal of his country's trade deficit. US exports to Thailand last year were worth $10.57 billion and imports totalled $29.49 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $18.92 billion, according to US Census Bureau data. That was an increase from $15.4 billion in 2015 and $14.3 billion in 2014. Local industry experts warned earlier this week that shipments of Thai-made auto parts and tyres to the US could suffer if the Trump administration follows through on some of its protectionist rhetoric or imposes a "border adjustment tax". About 35% of all tyres imported by the United States come from Thailand.
Thailand amends law to give more energy exploration options Reuters 30th Mar 2017
Thailand's military-appointed assembly approved an amendment to a petroleum law on Thursday which will give companies more options for exploration and production operations. Currently, oil and gas companies must get a concession to operate in a Thai field. The proposed amendment will add the option of striking production sharing agreements (PSA) or service contracts. Thailand's Erawan gas concession, operated by Chevron Corp. , and the Bongkot gas concession, operated by state-backed PTTEP Exploration and Production PCL, expire in 2022 and 2023. The government wanted new arrangements in place before these are concessions were renegotiated.
Thailand approves investment pledges worth $4.7 bln, electric car plan Reuters 24th Mar 2017
Thailand approved four investment applications worth more than 161 billion baht ($4.65 billion) and a promotion scheme for electric cars, the state investment agency said on Friday. Of the pledges, Thailand's Gulf Group will invest in two electricity generating projects worth a combined 118 billion baht, the Board of Investment (BOI) said in a statement. In addition, two units of PTT Pcl, Thailand's largest energy firm, will invest a combined 43.5 billion baht in gas transportation systems, it said.
Will shift in Thailand's PPA for renewables help or cause harm? Asian Power 5th Apr 2017
When the power purchasing agreement (PPA) for renewables in Thailand changes to firm contracts by February, uncontrollable power sources such as solar, wind, and waste may face difficulties in fulfilling their obligations and tougher competition in biddings. Reports from Maybank Kim Eng show that the Energy Policy and Planning Office (Eppo) expects licenses for 1,000 MW of power from solar, wind, biomass, biogas, and waste-to-power, this move will mean that renewable energy companies shall have an obligation to supply power to EGAT as contracted. However, they will also not require continuous power loads like like conventional power plants, but only during peak times for each power source. The average plant factor of renewable power to be used in firm PPAs is expected to be 25-30%, compared with 20-22% last year, which will ensure efficiency. The Thai government will also rewards its new licenses for renewables based on bidding. Bidding and higher requirements may cause tougher competition between industry newbies and big players. Experienced companies such as EA, SPCG, TPCH, BCPG, and TSE are listed renewable-power producers that may benefit from this arrangement.
Stalled wind farm projects set to get licences following ruling The Nation 31st Mar 2017
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will soon issue wind farm licences to 11 companies after the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) this week ruled that 17 wind farm projects located on Sor Por Kor government land in the Northeast were legal, would benefit local farmers and could continue as planned. ERC member Weerapol Jirapraditkul said on Thursday the ERC was waiting for a confirmation letter from the ALRO about the projects' legal status before proceeding with issuing the licences. He said the agency had halted issuing the licences pending clarity from the ALRO. Thai Wind Energy Association vice president Sumet Suthapacti, who is also Federation of Thai Industries vice president, said wind farm operators now had more confidence in public policy for electricity generation following the ALRO ruling. The projects under 11 companies, which are in the process of applying for the projects’ operating licences, are worth Bt72 billion in total. When combined with the 17 projects under 16 companies that have been cleared of ambiguity over the use of Sor Por Kor land, these projects will result in at least Bt100 billion being injected into the local economy, with local farmers also set to benefit, Sumet added. He said the private sector was now confident the public sector would achieve its target of buying 3,000 megawatts of electricity per year from wind farms by 2036 as per the Energy Efficiency Development Plan (2015-2036). Currently, the figure is 1,800MW.
Thailand 4.0: Powered by Renewable Energy? Lexology 27th Mar 2017
Under Thailand 4.0, renewable energy is a key priority for innovation. Cognizant that dependence on imported fossil fuels is not only economically and ecologically unsustainable, but also exposes the country to the unpredictability of global commodity markets, the Thai government embarked on a power development plan in May 2015 (PDP 2015). The PDP 2015 is based on ecology, economy, and security of the national power system. Within this framework, the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2015 (AEDP) was developed to reduce dependency on imported energy and increase alternative energy capacity from 7,279 MW in 2014 to 19,635 MW in 2036. To meet this target, the AEDP has adopted the following principles: prioritize power generation from waste, biomass, and biogas; allocate renewable energy generation capacity according to demand and potential in regions/provinces; promote current low-priority solar and wind power projects at a later stage once cost becomes competitive compared with power generation from liquefied natural gas; change the selection process for feed-in tariff grants from first-come, first-served to competitive bidding; promote community energy production to reduce fossil fuel usage; increase the share of renewable energy consumption from the current 12% to 30% in 2036.
Bank of Thailand moves to curb speculation Bangkok Post 1st Apr 2017
Food & Agriculture
The Bank of Thailand will shave 80 billion baht from its April issuance of short-dated bonds as a means to curb baht speculation, says a senior official. "The tapering of the short-term bonds will help prevent the use of Bank of Thailand bonds for the purpose of currency speculation," said Don Nakornthab, senior director in the macroeconomic and monetary policy department at the central bank. The Bank of Thailand will cut its new weekly supply of three- and six-month bonds by 10 billion baht each, from 40 billion issued weekly in March, constituting a total reduction of 80 billion.
Thailand's biggest agri company to invest $2B in PH within 5 years ABS-CBN News 25th Mar 2017
Thailand's largest agricultural company is set to pour in $2 billion to expand its pork and chicken production in the Philippines in the next five years, Agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol said. Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group) chairman Dhanin Chearavanont said they decided to invest more in the Philippines because of its distinction as the only country in the whole of Asia which is free from foot and mouth disease (FMD) and avian influenza or bird flu, Piñol said in a statement. The expansion is expected to generate at least 2,000 jobs, and increase the local demand for corn and soybeans that will be used as part of the company's feed production, Piñol said.
Korea and Southeast Asia look to expand agricultural trade throughout the region Far Eastern Agriculture 4th Apr 2017
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Kim Jae-soo, invited ambassadors to Korea from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to its offices in Seoul on 31 March to touch upon the current status of trade in agricultural and food products among the countries. They talked about ways to further expand mutual cooperation across the sector. 'Southeast Asia is among the most beloved tourist sites for the Korean people. There's a growing number of tourists to Korea, too, traveling from the Philippines and Thailand,' said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Jae-soo. 'Amid these growing tourist activities, we hope to see more exchanges in the agricultural and food industries, as well,' the minister said.
‘Growth promotion without antimicrobials’ PigProgress 3rd Apr 2017
Seldom was a subject so topical at VIV Asia, as this year’s theme of antibiotic reduction. Causes, developments and solutions were discussed at Pig Progress’ own event ‘Growth promotion without antimicrobials’ – and there was more to discover. If there was one message that remained in the minds of the visitors of VIV Asia 2017, it must be that by 2050, about 4.7 million people in Asia alone will die as a result of antimicrobials no longer functioning properly – if we don’t do anything, that is. The figure was taken from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance 2014, but it was the one fact that came back in virtually all of the presentations relating to the number one hot topic at the moment – antimicrobial resistance and how to avoid it.
As Thailand ramps up its palm oil sector, peat forests feel the pressure Mongabay Environmental News 24th Mar 2017
Health & Life Sciences
Thailand is currently the world's third-largest producer of palm oil. As of 2015, around 70 percent of land used for oil palm cultivation was managed by small-scale farmers. Most of Thailand's palm oil is grown in the southern part of the country. In one protected area, called Pru Kaching, the government is trying to reclaim land from palm oil growers. But complicating factors have mired the effort. In order to grow crops like oil palm in peatlands, the swampy peat must be drained – which releases carbon into the atmosphere and makes the forests that overlay them more susceptible to fire.
Thailand produces artificial bone replacement The Nation 24th Mar 2017
Thailand has successfully produced an artificial bone replacement for people suffering from serious problems in the upper arm. The humerus proximal endoprosthesis will significantly cut medical costs for patients needing an artificial device. “The quality of the locally-made humerus proximal endoprosthesis is as good as the imported ones,” Dr Piya Kiatisevi, an orthopaedist at the Lerdsin Hospital, said on Friday. “The locally-made device has proven practical for all 10 patients in approved human trials.”
U-tapao to get aviation zone Bangkok Post 6th Apr 2017
Some 6,500 rai of areas around U-tapao airport will be developed into a special investment promotion zone on aviation, a key component to support the government's much-touted Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme. Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Policy Committee, said the plan to upgrade the surrounding areas into an aviation zone was approved at the committee's first meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The 6,500-rai aviation zone will cover aircraft-related business, air cargo and warehouses, which will be 100% open for foreign investment.
Ministry to talk to Uber over taxi problem The Nation 5th Apr 2017
In a bid to tackle the problem of taxi drivers' turning down passengers, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered concerned agencies to talk to ride-sharing service Uber to help find a solution. Speaking after the weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Prayut said he had instructed the Transport Minister to look into the possibility of registering Uber vehicles as registered taxis. He said that if Uber taxis want to run a public transportation service they need to make it clear by having a sign showing they are public transportation.
Thailand studies leaseholds for foreigners, land windfall tax AsiaOne 24th Mar 2017
Thailand is studying a law to allow foreigners to buy property through 50-year leasehold contracts and also to sell them, which would help boost demand for the country's property sector, the finance minister said. Foreigners currently cannot sell leasehold property. "The finance ministry is looking at this idea, which is highly possible," Apisak Tantivorawong told a seminar late on Thursday. "If we can do it, the property industry will boom again because demand will come from all over the world," he said.