Push to draw up Cambodia-Thai tax treaty Phnom Penh Post 20th Jul 2017
Representatives from the tax authorities of Cambodia and Thailand have agreed in principle to speed up a proposed double taxation agreement that would protect their nationals from dual taxation and encourage bilateral investment. The agreement was made last week during a two-day consultation workshop in Bangkok for tax officials from the two countries, the General Department of Taxation (GDT) announced in a press release late on Tuesday. It said the GDT and Thailand’s Revenue Department had agreed in principle to establish technical teams that would work together as early as next month to prepare a final draft agreement.
Malaysia, Thailand vow closer cooperation in war on drugs The Sun Daily 13th Jul 2017
Malaysia has expressed its appreciation for Thailand's prompt action in arresting Malaysians suspected of being involved with drug syndicates, as the two neighbouring countries vowed closer cooperation in their war on drugs. Bukit Aman Narcotics CID director, Datuk Seri Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said Malaysia too had managed to derail attempts to smuggle 55 tonnes of kratom or ketum (recreational drug derived from the Mitragyna speciosa Korth tree) and 22 kg of cocaine into Thailand in recent years. "Drugs is a global problem and to wage successful war on drugs, we need to have cooperation and exchange of intelligence information," he told the media after attending the 38th Malaysia-Thailand Meeting on Narcotics Law Enforcement Cooperation, here, today.
Thailand approves 'reconciliation social contract', but some skeptical Reuters 24th Jul 2017
A reform panel headed by Thai junta chief Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday approved a "reconciliation social contract", part of a plan aimed at healing years of political division, but critics of the military were not impressed. The military came to power in a May 2014 coup promising to promote national unity and heal political rifts in a country that has been bitterly divided since a 2006 coup against then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who gained the adoration of rural voters but made many enemies among the military-royalist elite. Critics of the military say Thailand remains starkly divided despite attempts by the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, to introduce political and social reform. The document, lacking specifics, lists ten points, such as: "Differences of opinions should be accepted and political institutions strengthened so they lead to transparent, clean and fair elections."
Thai junta aims to make eastern economic hub its legacy The Straits Times 20th Jul 2017
With dark rain clouds from the Gulf of Thailand set to make landfall, the coastal U-Tapao airport owned by the Thai Navy hardly fits the bill of an economic game changer. The departure hall is bereft of travellers. Airport handlers drag their feet to lunch at a nearby canteen before they see a small spike in activity, when the next passenger plane touches down. Thailand's military government, however, sees things differently. The airbase, best known as the staging ground for the deadly sorties over Vietnam by the US Air Force B-52 bombers in the early 1970s, has been picked as the central piece of the country's most ambitious economic undertaking.
Leader of Thailand's 'Red Shirts' Movement Jailed for Defamation VOA 20th Jul 2017
A leading supporter of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will spend the next year in jail for defaming another former prime minister. The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Jatuporn Prompan was guilty of calling then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva a murderer in a 2010 speech delivered during street protests in Bangkok against Abhisit's conservative government by the so-called Red Shirts pro-democracy movement. The protests ended in bloody clashes between the military and the Red Shirts, killing dozens of people. Two lower courts previously had dismissed the defamation charge against Jatuporn.
Thailand targets skills gap: `We can't even invent a motorbike' Bangkok Post 19th Jul 2017
Thailand’s Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin poses a rhetorical question as he ponders the task of making innovation a bigger engine of economic growth: Would people prefer an electric car developed in the Southeast Asian nation, or one made by Tesla Inc? “Are you dreaming?” Mr Teerakiat said in an interview. “We can’t even invent a motorbike.” Mr Teerakiat, who said he’s Thailand’s 20th education minister in 17 years, is trying to close the skills gap in a country struggling to match some of the education gains made by Southeast Asian neighbours. His strategy includes giving more autonomy to schools, universities and teachers to boost standards. He also advises retaining a focus on traditionally strong sectors such as food, healthcare and tourism. Thailand’s challenge is a major one: the latest triennial Programme for International Student Assessment results ranked it 54 out of 70 countries, even though education received about a fifth of the 2.73 trillion baht ($81 billion) annual budget, one of the largest expenditure items. Singapore was the top performer in the PISA assessment, with Japan second, Taiwan fourth, China sixth, and Vietnam eighth.
Trial of Thailand's Yingluck fails to break Shinawatra machine Channel NewsAsia 18th Jul 2017
As the trial of former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over an extravagant rice subsidy programme winds to a close, her rural supporters are resisting attempts by the ruling junta to silence her family's political machine. Yingluck and her Puea Thai Party say the trial is politically motivated, aimed at discrediting a populist movement that has won every election since 2001. Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra first introduced the rice programmes before he himself was ousted in a 2006 coup. But Yingluck took it a step further by offering to buy rice from farmers at up to 50 per cent above market prices. The measure helped her sweep to power in the 2011 general election. But government losses from the scheme - which also distorted global rice prices - helped fuel protests that led to her removal from power days before the 2014 coup. If found guilty, Yingluck like her brother Thaksin, would be disqualified from becoming premier again.
Thailand's king given full control of crown property Reuters 17th Jul 2017
Thailand has amended a royal property law to formally give King Maha Vajiralongkorn full control of the agency which manages the multi-billion dollar holdings of the monarchy. The newly amended Crown Property Act, announced in a palace statement on Sunday, replaces three laws dating back to as early as 1936, and is the first amendment to legislation concerning crown property in decades. It is the latest change to give greater authority to the king, who has shown himself increasingly assertive since ascending the throne in December following the death in October of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who ruled for seven decades. The exact size of the Crown Property Bureau is not made public, but recent estimates have run to more than $30 billion through its holdings in real estate and other investments.
US climate-deal exit 'won't affect Thailand' Bangkok Post 14th Jul 2017
The United States' decision last month to halt its participation in the 2015 Paris agreement may have little impact on financial assistance given by developed countries to Thailand and other developing countries to support their climate change mitigation and adaptation plans, a government agency says. Developing countries are expected to host further talks on how to subsidise climate change mitigation and adaptation plans during the next Conference of the Parties (COP23) meeting under the UN Climate Change Framework in Bonn, Germany, from Nov 6 to 17, said Raweewan Bhuridej, secretary-general of the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning. Ms Raweewan said the US withdrawal from the climate change agreement will not stop other nations' commitment to cooling the Earth down. However, it might have a minor impact on the Green Climate Fund (GCF), to which mostly developed countries contribute money, including the US.
Thailand dropping ball on 'global goals' Bangkok Post 13th Jul 2017
Far from costing money to meet the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a major report by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, an alliance of business leaders, economists, trade unionists and civil society actors, details how economies can benefit. Asian businesses stand to obtain US$5 trillion in business opportunities from countries meeting the new "global goals" set for the full implementation by 2030. Yet with Thailand only ranking 100th in the 2016 Global Sustainability Competitiveness Index (GSCI), and the government unable to clearly articulate its Thailand 4.0 strategy, Thai companies may be unable to reap this windfall.
The New Customs Act: Important Changes for Importers and Exporters Lexology 13th Jul 2017
The Thai Customs Act was enacted in 1926, and has undergone several changes during the past nine decades of its existence. Despite the amendments, however, some provisions in the Act continued to pose problems for importers, exporters, and business operators. In an effort to address these problems, the government has enacted a new Customs Act B.E. 2560 (2017). The Act was published in the Royal Gazette on May 17, 2017, and will become effective 180 days from the publication date. This article describes some of the Act’s key points that will impact business operators, importers, and exporters.
PH-Thai cigarette tax issue simmers Manila Standard 11th Jul 2017
Defense & Security
The Philippines renewed its appeal before the World Trade Organization to compel Thailand to refund duties on cigarettes shipped from the Philippines. This is the second request of the Philippines after a prior notice from the WTO advising Thailand to repay the taxes and duties it previously collected from Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. in a form of overtaxation nearly 15 years ago. The WTO ordered Thailand to implement a fair valuation scheme on imported cigarettes brought in by Philip Morris Thailand from Philip Morris Philippines in the last 14 to 16 years and refund the excess tax collected by the Thai Customs Department.
Thai military ready to aid Philippines Bangkok Post 26th Jul 2017
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is ready to send troops to the restive city of Marawi to provide humanitarian aid if the Philippines seeks help from Thailand. Lt Gen Chatchai Patranavik, chief of the RTA's Counter Terrorist Operations Centre, says if requested, Thai troops could be deployed to Marawi to provide humanitarian aid for residents affected by the conflict against local militants claiming links to the Islamic State (IS) group. The relief would be provided under the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) programme. He stressed they would not engage in any combat.
Thailand Eyes New Korea Fighter Jets The Diplomat 12th Jul 2017
On Tuesday, Thailand’s cabinet approved the purchase of eight T-50 advanced jets from South Korea. If confirmed, the move would mark just the latest defense acquisition by the military government since coming to power following a coup in May 2014.
Is Thailand Now Buying More Arms From China? The Diplomat 11th Jul 2017
On June 14, Thai media outlets reported that the cabinet had approved the Royal Thai Army (RTA) proposal to buy 34 armored personnel carriers from China. Though this represents the confirmation of a move that had been mulled earlier, it nonetheless signifies Bangkok’s insistence on moving forward with Beijing on the defense side in spite of lingering concerns in some circles about what it means for the Southeast Asian state.
Thailand sees positive export growth despite strong baht vietnamplus.vn 25th Jul 2017
Thailand’s exports in June enjoyed sustained growth of 11.7 percent year on year, despite its currency baht remained strong, according to the country’s Ministry of Commerce. The latest report released by the ministry on July 25 shows that it was the second consecutive month the Thai exports had posted a positive growth which amounted to 20.3 billion USD, leading to a trade surplus of 1.9 billion USD. The May exports rose by 13.2 percent after the Baht picked up 6.1 percent, the country’s record high in the last 26 months and the Asia’s second highest, following the Republic of Korea’s won.
Thailand's PTT venture takes $500 million stake in Malaysia LNG project Reuters 27th Jul 2017
PTTEP, the exploration and production arm of Thailand's oil and gas giant PTT Group, said on Thursday their liquefied natural gas (LNG) venture had taken a $500 million stake in a project with Malaysia's Petronas. Announcing second-quarter results - which were roughly in line with analysts' expectations - PTTEP said it was looking to expand further in Southeast Asia and was awaiting the results of a few bid proposals for exploration projects in the region. It said a joint venture with its parent company - PTT Global LNG Company - had bought a 10 percent stake in liquefaction plant MLNG Train 9 in Malaysia. The announcement comes barely a day after Petronas scrapped a proposed C$36 billion ($29 billion) LNG project in Canada due to weak prices, dealing a blow to the Malaysian state company's global ambitions and leaving it with a bill for work already done. "Investment with a leading company, Petronas, would support the LNG business of the company in expanding our operations in Malaysia in the future," PTTEP said in a statement.
Petronas delivers first LNG cargo to Thailand under 15-year deal The Star Online 21st Jul 2017
Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) has delivered its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to Thailand under a long-term sale and purchase agreement (SPA) between its subsidiary Petronas LNG Ltd and PTT Public Co Ltd. The national oil company said the cargo was delivered on Thursday, July 20, to the Map Ta Phut Terminal at Rayong on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand from the Petronas LNG Complex in Bintulu, Sarawak. Petronas’ and PTT’s management were present at the terminal to witness the delivery via LNG vessel Puteri Intan Satu, which is owned and operated by Petronas’ subsidiary MISC Bhd. Petronas said Petronas LNG was committed to delivering up to 1.2 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG to PTT for a period of 15 years. It was previously reported that Thailand’s energy policy committee had in December last year approved state-owned PTT’s proposal to buy 1 MTPA of LNG from Petronas this year and in 2018, and 1.2 MTPA from 2019 onwards.
An IPO in Thailand sparks push for regional energy development UPI 19th Jul 2017
A regional development bank said it spent more than $50 million on shares in a Thai power company in order to help develop renewable energy in Southeast Asia. The Asian Development Bank acquired 123 million shares in the initial public offering for B. Grimm Power Public Co., one of the largest private energy companies in Thailand. The power company operates 12 natural gas-powered plant, 15 solar power plants and plans to more than double its renewable energy generation capacity to 30 percent. Jackie Surtani, who directs private sector operations for the ADB, said the investment will help B. Grimm diversify and expand its reach into developing countries in Southeast Asia. "In doing so, the project will help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in its transition to a low-carbon economy through the development of renewable energy," she said in a statement.
Thailand tightens credit-card rules to battle high household debt The Star Online 26th Jul 2017
Thailand’s central bank on Wednesday tightened controls on credit cards and unsecured personal loans, a move that should contain high household debt levels and could cut domestic consumption. The measures, effective Sept 1, come at a time of concern about overspending by citizens and rising bad loans. The rule-changes mean credit-card holders can no longer automatically get credit limits of five times their monthly incomes. From Sept 1, only individuals earning at least 50,000 baht (US$1,492) a month can get a maximum spending limit of five times their monthly salary for credit cards. At the end of March, Thailand’s household debts were 78.6% of gross domestic product, among the highest in Asia, although that eased slightly from 79.8% at end-2016.
Foreign buyers lift Thai property market from doldrums Financial Times 23rd Jul 2017
Wealthy Asian nationals have snapped up Thai apartments in soaring numbers in a sign of how foreign money is lifting sluggish property markets in the region, says one the country’s developers. Buyers from Hong Kong, mainland China and other territories have flocked to the Southeast Asian kingdom and will probably continue to buoy the sector at a time of little domestic demand growth, said Srettha Thavisin, president of Bangkok-based Sansiri.
Thai banks' combined net profit slips for 1st time in 4 quarters- Nikkei Asian Review 21st Jul 2017
Although the Thai economy is showing signs of emerging from years of sluggish growth, the country's big banks seem to have missed their ride. The combined second quarter net profit of the country's four largest banks by assets -- Bangkok Bank, Krung Thai Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank -- was down 17% from the April-June period a year earlier, to 32.16 billion baht ($965 million).
Singapore's central bank seals fintech deal with Thailand International Business Times, Singapore Edition 12th Jul 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) has inked a FinTech Cooperation Agreement (CA) in the efforts to strengthen the two countries' initiative of fostering the technology in the wider region. The agreement eyes developing a richer financial ecosystem in the two countries as part of the bigger ASEAN region. It allows BOT and MAS to share information on burgeoning market trends and their impact on regulation. The deal also allows fintech firms in both countries to create a network. For the two central banks, the signing of the deal signals a shared intent to explore and undertake innovation projects, especially those with potential cross-border applicability. The signing of the deal comes with the updating of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Banking Supervision, which was agreed upon by the two banks in 2006. This deal will also boost the bilateral collaboration in safeguarding the resilience of their banking systems.
Thailand: Talks over US$3bln M&A deal for insurer falls through Asia Insurance Review 10th Jul 2017
Food & Agriculture
Thailand's Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) has put off a potential US$3 billion sale of its insurance unit as talks with suitor FWD Group of Hong Kong failed on valuation disagreements, reported Reuters citing three people familiar with the matter. FWD, owned by tycoon Mr Richard Li, the youngest son of Hong Kong's richest man, Mr Li Ka-shing, had been holding discussions with SCB, Thailand's third biggest lender, on the proposed deal for SCB Life Assurance for at least three months.
Fishing feels pinch of migrant squeeze Bangkok Post 26th Jul 2017
The fishing industry is suffering from a major shortage of 74,000 migrant labourers, resulting from the state's recent measures on tackling human trafficking, says Mongkol Sukcharoenthana, chairman of the National Fisheries Association of Thailand. The critical labour shortage has forced 16,000 commercial fishing trawlers to remain docked over the past two years, resulting in dwindling income for the up to 20-billion-baht industry. Consumers were also burdened with higher prices of seafood products as supply has dropped by 40 to 50%, he said.
Seafood export ban still on the radar Bangkok Post 19th Jul 2017
Thailand faces the risk of having its seafood exports banned in Europe as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha admitted Tuesday that efforts to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) may fall short of convincing the European Commission (EC) to lift the country's "yellow card" warning status. Despite this, the premier sounded a note of optimism by insisting the EC was "satisfied" with his government's performance in dealing with labour and environmental problems that have plagued the fishing industry for decades. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said the EC is scheduled to announce its position on Monday after it wrapped up a 16-day inspection on Sunday. Sources at the Fisheries Department said the EC team conveyed the message that Thailand must do more to combat IUU-related wrongdoing. "The EC is satisfied but wants us to speed up work in areas where we've not reached 100% of our targets," Gen Prayut said.
Thailand's seafood giant Thai Union commits to major fishing reforms The Straits Times 11th Jul 2017
Thai Union, one of the world's largest seafood conglomerates, said on Tuesday (July 11) it will overhaul its fishing practices to protect against labour abuses and unsustainable trawling, a move hailed by Greenpeace as "huge progress". The Thai food giant - which owns major global brands such as Chicken of the Sea, John West and Petit Navire - has long been a bete noire to those campaigning against overfishing and abusive working conditions on boats. But on Tuesday it released a joint statement with Greenpeace announcing a series of reforms that both said should encourage other seafood behemoths to follow suit.
Thai agri experts vow to assist PH in food safety benchmarking SunStar 18th Jul 2017
Agriculture officials of Thailand have expressed willingness to help the Philippines improve its food safety program through more benchmarking activities. Sanchai Tontyaporn, advisor to the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards of Thailand, said the bid to boost food safety should start with good agricultural practices (GAP). Tontyaporn spoke about the Thai government's role in ensuring food safety in their country during the 2nd National Conference on Food Safety at SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City Monday, July 17. “Thailand is open to more benchmarking activities where people from the Philippines can study and learn our food safety practices, including GAP,” he said, adding that “as members of the Asean, we should help each other.”
Why ThaiBev can just shrug off excise tax concerns Singapore Business Review 7th Jul 2017
Health & Life Sciences
It may not necessarily cause a drop in production volume. The impending excise tax hike implementation in Thailand set in September is a cause of concern for Singapore-listed beverage firm ThaiBev. But analysts at CIMB Research are suggesting that this should not be a cause of worry.
Ministry's power trip bad for people's health Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2017
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Public health authorities are not paying heed to these cautionary words however, because their plan to fix the National Health Security Act is not about how to better serve the 49 million people under universal healthcare coverage. It's about their own power.
Thailand Eliminates Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis The India Saga 24th Jul 2017
Thailand has become the first country in Asia and the Pacific region to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis. Thailand received validation from WHO at New York on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS for being the first country with a large HIV epidemic to ensure an AIDS-free generation.
Thailand ‘has potential to be medical tourism leader’ The Nation 23rd Jul 2017
Thailand can emerge as the region’s top medical tourism hotspot, as the country attracts 550,000 Asean medical tourists yearly, according to Gernot Ringling, managing director of the trade fair organiser Messe Dusseldorf Asia.
Thailand, Japan agree to improve senior health care The Nation 16th Jul 2017
The memorandum of understanding will focus on developing a system of long-term care to meet the needs of an ageing society, said Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, the minister. Piyasakol revealed that the signing took place at a Tokyo meeting of health ministers from Asean and Japan.
Mitigating HIV: Thailand Offers Affordable Solutions Sputnik 12th Jul 2017
Thailand has been a hot destination for Chinese tourists for years. Yet many now are heading to the Southeast Asian country for a new reason－to buy cheap drugs to prevent HIV.
Malaysia and Thailand threaten to take Singapore’s healthcare crown ASEAN Today 10th Jul 2017
Singapore’s reputation for the world’s best healthcare is being challenged after improvements in the systems of its ASEAN neighbours.
Ministry plan to boost births Bangkok Post 7th Jul 2017
The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has announced a 10-year strategy to increase the number of planned births nationwide and improve the overall quality of births.
Thailand Praised by WHO for it’s Efforts to Combat Cancer Chiangrai Times 6th Jul 2017
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has praised Thailand for its outstanding cancer management, a medical lecturer said on Sunday.
NBTC makes volte-face on OTT plan Bangkok Post 6th Jul 2017
The attempt to rein in over-the-top (OTT) service operators is in shambles after the national telecom regulator abruptly announced Wednesday it is scrapping the planned regulations that would force OTT companies worldwide to register for tax purposes. According to a resolution by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board, the widely-criticised framework had several weak points and will be replaced with a new one.
Thailand, China to move forward on train, EEC projects Bangkok Post 24th Jul 2017
Thailand and China have pledged there will be no u-turn on a long-delayed train project and promised cooperation on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said he hoped the rail project would "elevate" Thailand's status in the region and said that the two countries would overcome differences to bring the rail project to fruition. Thailand and China are set to build the 179-billion-baht train project linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha executed Section 44 of the interim constitution to end the delay last month. The route to Nakhon Ratchasima will be extended to Nong Khai in the future. Plans call for it to link with another train line under construction from southern China to Laos. Thailand and China have mooted the train project since 2014 but progress has been slow, hampered by unsettled issues including loans and technological transfer.
Thailand to tap 'domestic sources' for US$5.3b rail project with China — official The Edge Markets 17th Jul 2017
Thailand plans to get from "domestic sources" most of the funding for a 179 billion baht (US$5.3 billion) high-speed railway project built with China, a finance ministry official said on Monday. The 873-km (542 miles) rail line, which will link Thailand's border with Laos to eastern ports and industrial zones, is part of Beijing's regional infrastructure drive that China originally named "One Belt, One Road". The link, in theory a centrepiece of Chinese-Thai cooperation, has been held up by years of negotiation over everything from cost and loan terms to land development rights. Last month, Thailand's military government invoked an executive order to kick-start the project. Under terms agreed so far, Thailand will fund the project and China will provide technical assistance.