Thailand Update: Thailand Surges in Ranking for Ease of Doing Business

Thailand Update | November 10, 2017
Authors: Matt Solomon, Ella Duangkaew
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand Surges in Ranking for Ease of Doing Business

Thailand landed at number 26 in the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Report (found here), released on November 1, up 20 spots from last year. Thailand has the third highest ranking of the ASEAN countries, behind Singapore at number two, and Malaysia at number 24. Thailand’s new ranking places it in the top 15 percent of countries globally in the ease of doing business.

According to Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Director for Thailand, Malaysia and Regional Partnerships, “Thailand has made immense progress in doing business reforms this past year, with strong government leadership at the highest levels.” The World Bank report cites many improvements that Thailand has made in the ease of doing business, including: reducing of the time it takes to start a business from 27.5 days to 4.5 days; eliminating the requirement that companies must obtain a company seal; and eliminating the requirement that a company must obtain approval of its work regulations from the Labour Department. Thailand’s ranking has risen for many key metrics that are critical to the ease of doing business. For example, Thailand’s rank for getting electricity rose from 37 to 13; their rank for getting credit rose from 82 to 42; and their rank for enforcing contracts rose from 51 to 34.

Government spokesperson Lt. General Sansern Kawekamnerd stated that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is “satisfied with the improved ranking,” and that the Prime Minister credits the improvement to public and private sector cooperation and improvements to the working procedures of many government agencies. The improved ranking demonstrates Thai government’s commitment to supporting and facilitating ease of doing business in Thailand, and its openness to foreign business presence in the country. This stance was supported by the Prime Minister’s messages during his visit to the U.S. The improved ranking should boost investor confidence in Thailand, which can lead to greater levels of foreign investment and business presence in the country.

Labour Minister Resigns and Paves the Way for Cabinet Reshuffle

On November 1, Thailand’s Labour Minister General Sirichai Distakul resigned. According to the Bangkok Post, Prime Minister Prayut told reporters that General Sirichai resigned “to attend to private business.” The Prime Minister also ensured that ministry’s work would continue as usual under his supervision. The Labour Ministry typically falls under the supervision of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon; however the Prime Minister has taken the supervision upon himself, and will be the one who names the Labour Minister’s successor.

The Labour Minister’s resignation seemed likely when that same Wednesday, the Prime Minister transferred the director-general of the Employment Department, Varanon Peetiwan, to the post of Deputy Permanent Secretary of Labour. The transfer was shortly followed by the abrupt resignation of the Vice Minister of Labour, General Charoen Nopsuwan, that same day. General Charoen’s resigned following allegations of labour officials accepting bribes to expedite the registration of migrant workers.

The government has stated that the Labour Minister’s resignation does not indicate a “rift in the cabinet,” since it was a “personal decision” that the Prime Minister was not informed of in advance. However, the Prime Minister has asked the Labour Ministry and other agencies to continue investigating complaints of labour officials taking bribes to expedite migrant worker registrations.

The Minister’s resignation is seen by some as a harbinger of a forthcoming cabinet reshuffle, likely to favor non-Military officials—a move that a government source in the Bangkok Post says is meant to “shake off the regime’s ‘junta’ image’ by reducing the number of military officers in the cabinet.” On November 7, the Bangkok Post reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Anantaporn Kanjanarat “admitted General Prayut consulted all deputy prime ministers about a cabinet reshuffle last week.” The Bangkok Post reported that on Monday, Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya stated that he was “ready to be replaced.”

The Bangkok Post’s government source has also stated that in the reshuffle, military officers will only be given ministerial posts relating to security matters, such as defense. Additionally, the source stated that the next cabinet, which will be the fifth in Prayut’s administration--and possibly final, if elections are held as suggested in November--will have the important role of supervising the election and handling the post-election situation. If the elections are delayed further, this fifth cabinet will stay on as the interim government. A cabinet reshuffle with a greater emphasis on appointing Ministers based on professional experience and expertise, as opposed to military rank, may be valuable to the government’s efforts in promoting economic growth in key areas.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Cambodia urges Thais to sign trade deal

National Affairs
CDC to submit Senate and MP bills to NLA on Nov 28
PM leaves door open for military-backed party
Generals say they're willing to fall to cabinet reshuffle axe
NLA president backs disputed panel choices
Songklod’s ‘volunteer’ group seen as base for pro-junta political front
DSI takes up 7 ‘special cases’ including corruption files
Yingluck will have to make case of persecution for political asylum
Graft panel appointment stirs uproar
PM sets up new committee to speed migrant worker registrations
Election disaster possible due to inflexibility in proposed candidate registration approach: Somchai
PM set to boost civilian cabinet roles
Anti-graft bill sails through NLA in its first reading
Labour minister’s resignation confirmed
Parties could get to canvass from February
State eyes B3tn tourism revenue haul
Rare protest in junta-ruled Thailand after mourning chaos

Defense & Security
Defence & Security 2017: Thailand unveils locally developed amphibious APC
Prawit orders five Thai-made amphibious carriers
Thales and Thailand’s DTI to jointly develop military technologies
Singapore, Thailand to step up maritime cooperation and counter-terrorism efforts
Singapore-Thailand Defense Relations in the Spotlight With Ng Visit

Economics
Foreign investors profit on asset gain
State banks urged to support more SMEs
Cabinet approves 23-day shopping tax break
Central bank seen keeping rates steady as growth improves
Thailand keen to kick-start RCEP talks
Department aims to better business registration system
Thailand surges in ranking for Ease of Doing Business

Energy
B96.9bn investment likely for renewables
Thai government expects auctions of Erawan, Bongkot fields in Dec 2017
Thai government braces for legal action over gold mine closure

Financial Services
Thai banks' loans may grow close to 4 pct this year - c.bank
SEC amendments aim to protect investors in bills of exchange
Thailand’s Finance Minister Defends Plan to Take Money from Dormant Bank Accounts
BitThai.Net Officially Launch of Thailand's Newest Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform

Food & Agriculture
PM’s Office regulation published, paving way for national forest policy committee
Shakeup in Thai poultry industry as human health fears grow
Exporters seek to regain market share
Rubber growers plan rally over price drop
‘Find right markets’ before hiking organic rice output
Thailand's new investment chief eager to spur 'smart farming'
Rice group eyes record exports

Health & Life Sciences
Overseas patients drive profits at Thai hospital operator BDMS
Invasive flatworms spreading their territory
Fake Pharma thrives on the Mekong
Growing obesity: A huge economic burden on Thailand 

ICT
Depa plans fund to develop digital champions
E-transition will take some time in Thailand
Thailand to roll out biometric checks for SIM cards nationwide
Fintech outlays booming
Digital content tipped to hit Bt26.8 bn next year
Thailand Board of Investment: Thailand Primes for Digital Bigtime
EIT envisions 'smart future' for Thailand
NBTC approval for use of IoT spectrum imminent
Thai regulator sets telecoms spectrum auctions for May 2018

Infrastructure
Transport fund IPO postponed to 2018
Tourism officials confer with airlines
Electric trains may seek PPP
Government wants to attract luxury liners
Plans afoot to revive SEZs as complement to EEC

Legislation
New Thai Competition law - is it a game changer?

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Cambodia urges Thais to sign trade deal Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2017
Cambodian officials have asked their Thai counterparts to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cross-border trade as soon as possible to avoid complications for transportation companies when new Thai regulations on cross-border trade comes into effect in mid-November. According to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), a new Thai customs law, due to come into force on Nov 13, will make the transportation of goods by land along the Cambodian-Thai border illegal if Thailand is not the final destination or if Cambodia is not the origin country, a situation that would have a negative impact on Cambodian exports, the Khmer Times reported on Thursday.

National Affairs

CDC to submit Senate and MP bills to NLA on Nov 28 The Nation 7th Nov 2017
Chief charter drafter Meechai Ruchupan said on Tuesday that the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) would submit the organic bills on both Senate selection and MPs election to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on November 28, as the two bills were linked in a number of ways. The CDC had previously planned to submit the Senate bill to the NLA for deliberation first, on November 21. However, it decided that as some of the content of the two bills was linked, they should be written to be in line with one another, Meechai said. 

PM leaves door open for military-backed party The Nation 7th Nov 2017
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday refused to rule out the formation of a political party by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) ahead of the general election currently set for next November. “I’m not thinking about [setting up a party] now but I’ll see how the situation is in the future. There is a year to think about it,” Prayut said after the weekly Cabinet meeting. Speculation has arisen that the junta might retain power since Prayut clarified the timeline for an election and his Cabinet approaches its fourth shake-up, possibly to prepare for the political arena heating up during the election period.

Generals say they're willing to fall to cabinet reshuffle axe Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2017
The new labour minister may not necessarily be a soldier, according to Deputy Prime Minister Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn, as other military ministers indicated their readiness to bow out of the cabinet. The shape of any cabinet reshuffle, whether it is a major or limited one, rests with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. "He doesn't need to ask ministers before replacing them," Gen Tanasak said on Monday.

NLA president backs disputed panel choices Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2017
National Legislative Assembly (NLA) president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai has distanced himself from a controversy involving the appointments of two lawmakers, currently under investigation for their unusual wealth, to a panel vetting an organic bill on the government's anti-graft agency. At the centre of the dispute are former national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, the younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, and former assistant national police chief Pol Lt Gen Boonrueng Polpanich.

Songklod’s ‘volunteer’ group seen as base for pro-junta political front The Nation 6th Nov 2017
Maj-General Songklod Thipparat may have had a low profile as a member of the military’s working group for reform preparations for people’s happiness, but that has changed in recent months.The senior military officer has been making moves along with his wife, Boonyaporn Natathanapatra, in setting up the “Volunteers for the Power of the Thai Nation” organisation, which has already seen two branches taking root in the Northeast. As a member of the military organisation set up immediately following the May 2014 coup to work intensively on “reconciliation” on the ground via military-driven activities, it is inevitable that Songklod is now linked to the ruling junta’s apparent bid to set up a new political party ahead of the general election.

DSI takes up 7 ‘special cases’ including corruption files The Nation 4th Nov 2017
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is set to take over seven controversial cases, including one related to the previous government’s fake rice export deal in which money-laundering charges are pending. Deputy premier Wissanu Krea-ngam will chair the meeting of DSI’s board of directors to consider these “special cases” next week. Three cases have been proposed to DSI by the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation (AMLO).

Yingluck will have to make case of persecution for political asylum The Nation 4th Nov 2017
Many possible solutions have been circulated about the way that fugitive ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra will resolve her flight from Thailand, which might last a lifetime. One is that she will seek political asylum in the United Kingdom, where her brother Thaksin, who has also fled Thai legal cases, has spent time running businesses, as well as living in Dubai.

Graft panel appointment stirs uproar Bangkok Post 4th Nov 2017
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has come under fire for appointing the younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon to a panel scrutinising the draft organic law on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) when the younger sibling is being probed by the same body. NACC chairman Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit yesterday came out to defend the appointment of two legislative panelists scrutinising the organic bill on the NACC who face a fact-finding investigation by the commission. One is former national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, the younger brother of Gen Prawit. The other is Pol Lt Gen Boonrueng Polpanich, a member of the NLA.

PM sets up new committee to speed migrant worker registrations The Nation 3rd Nov 2017
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has exercised his special powers under Article 44 of the provisional charter to set up a committee to expedite the registration process for migrant workers. The slowness of the approval process under the Labour Ministry disappointed Prayut and led to the demotion of Varanon Peetiwan, from Director-General of the Department of Employment to deputy permanent secretary of the Labour Ministry. The ministry no longer has full authority to handle the migrant workers following the Prime Minister’s latest order. 

Election disaster possible due to inflexibility in proposed candidate registration approach: Somchai The Nation 3rd Nov 2017
An outgoing member of the Election Commission (EC) has red-flagged the new organic bill on Lower House members, which disallows online application of election candidates, expressing concern that it could put the country at risk of losing billions in the event that brick-and-mortar application stations failed.In a post to Facebook, Somchai Srisuthiyakorn pointed to the 2014 case in which the Constitutional Court ruled that an election was unconstitutional due to the dysfunction at some application stations.

PM set to boost civilian cabinet roles Bangkok Post 3rd Nov 2017
The resignation of Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul will likely pave the way for a major cabinet reshuffle, with the number of military top brass expected to fall and more civilians to take over ministerial posts. The top brass in the armed forces and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) have occupied the majority of cabinet portfolios following Gen Prayut's four cabinet shakeups so far. This time, attention will centre on how many military top brass occupying ministerial posts will be ousted and how many civilians will march into the next cabinet.

Anti-graft bill sails through NLA in its first reading The Nation 2nd Nov 2017
THE NATIONAL Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 200 to zero, with four abstentions, to accept in principle the new anti-corruption bill in its first reading. A committee will be set up to vet the bill within 58 days. Noted anti-corruption experts and former National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) members will sit on the committee, including Klanarong Chantik and Vicha Mahakun. The NLA debated key controversial points of the bill before approving it. One of the points was the timeframe for the NACC to complete an investigation – within two years – to ensure its conclusion.

Labour minister’s resignation confirmed The Nation 2nd Nov 2017
The resignation of General Sirichai Distakul from his post as labour minister was confirmed on Thursday by a Prime Minister’s Office announcement published in the Royal Gazette. The announcement said Sirichai’s resignation was effective since Wednesday, the day when he filed notice. Speculation about Sirichai’s resignation emerged on Wednesday soon after Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha used his absolute powers under Article 44 of the interim constitution to transfer Varanon Peetiwan, a key Sirichai subordinate, from his post as director-general of the Department of Employment to become deputy permanent secretary of the Labour Ministry.

Parties could get to canvass from February Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2017
The political ban is likely to be lifted in February or March after two organic bills on elections of MPs and senators come into force, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) member Somchai Sawaengkarn said Wednesday. He said parties and politicians will still have enough time to make preparations for the next poll, tentatively scheduled to take place in November 2018. Mr Somchai's remarks come after parties, particularly the Pheu Thai Party, called on the government to remove the ban since the organic law on political parties took effect early last month.

State eyes B3tn tourism revenue haul Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2017
More than 180 tourism events are planned for 2018 as part of a new national tourism campaign -- Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018 -- that aims to create 3 trillion baht in revenue. Deputy Prime Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn said the Tourism and Sports Ministry, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and tourism stakeholders planned to organise 183 tourism events across the country from this November to the end of September 2018. Most of the events have been created with an aim to promote unique local activities and traditional stories.

Rare protest in junta-ruled Thailand after mourning chaos Reuters 1st Nov 2017
Authorities in Thailand’s southeastern Chonburi province braced for more demonstrations on Wednesday after hundreds of furious residents gathered a day earlier in a rare protest to complain about bureaucratic incompetence. Residents complained about long lines that lasted more than 12 hours and general disorganization surrounding activities to mark the funeral of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej who was cremated in Bangkok last week in a $90 million funeral. The protest defied a junta ban on gatherings of more than five people that has been in place since a May 2014 coup.

Defense & Security

Defence & Security 2017: Thailand unveils locally developed amphibious APC Jane's 360 6th Nov 2017
Thailand’s Defence Technology Institute (DTI) has unveiled a prototype of a newly developed 8x8 Amphibious Armoured Personnel Carrier (AAPC) intended for the Royal Thai Marine Corps (RTMC). The DTI, a research and development (R&D) agency under the Thai Ministry of Defence (MOD), said on 6 November at the Defence & Security 2017 show in Bangkok that the AAPC prototype has been developed and produced in collaboration with local company Cho Thavee.

Prawit orders five Thai-made amphibious carriers Bangkok Post 6th Nov 2017
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered five 100-million-baht Thai-made amphibious armoured personnel carriers (AAPC) for use by the marine. Gen Prawit, who is also a deputy prime minister, presided over the opening of the Defense and Security 2017 fair at Impact Muang Thong Thani on Monday. The event was attended by Thai military chiefs and international military personnel.

Thales and Thailand’s DTI to jointly develop military technologies Jane's 360 6th Nov 2017
Thales and Thailand’s Defence Technology Institute (DTI), the research and development (R&D) agency of the Thai Ministry of Defence (MoD), signed an agreement on 6 November to collaborate on defence R&D. The memorandum of understanding (MOU), which was signed at the Defence & Security 2017 exhibition in Bangkok, is focused on joint R&D in areas including radars, air defence, digital communications, and command and control systems.

Singapore, Thailand to step up maritime cooperation and counter-terrorism efforts Channel NewsAsia 6th Nov 2017
Singapore and Thailand has vowed to work together in areas of mutual interest such as maritime security, counter-terrorism and cybersecurity, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a news release on Monday (Nov 6). This comes during Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's three-day working visit to Thailand, where he called on Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Monday afternoon.  "Both sides reiterated the close bilateral relationship, and how both countries could work together in areas of mutual interest, such as maritime security, counter-terrorism and cybersecurity," MINDEF said.

Singapore-Thailand Defense Relations in the Spotlight With Ng Visit The Diplomat 6th Nov 2017
This week, Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen is in Thailand for a three-day working visit. Ng’s trip has put the Singapore-Thailand defense relationship in the spotlight from a bilateral as well as a broader regional perspective.

Economics

Foreign investors profit on asset gain Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2017
Foreign investors took profits by selling Thai bonds and equities after gaining around 20% of total return, but foreign purchases are expected early next year given supportive market conditions, says the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). The SET index has gained 12% year-to-date and the baht has gained 8% against the dollar, prompting foreign investors to sell their Thai assets as they have attained a 20% profit, said SET senior executive vice-president Santi Kiranand. "However, it is expected they will invest again in the Thai capital market, including equities and bonds, early next year because of Thailand's continued economic recovery and earnings of SET-listed companies remain strong," said Mr Santi.

State banks urged to support more SMEs Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2017
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak is urging state-owned banks to play a more aggressive role in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). "We can't ask commercial banks to help SMEs as they carry risks and don't contribute much to banks' profits, but state-owned banks have been set up for this purpose and should be able to do more," he said. State-owned banks should improve their operations and work harder to support SMEs, including startups, which are an important engine for the economy, said Mr Somkid.

Cabinet approves 23-day shopping tax break Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2017
The cabinet has approved a personal income tax break for spending between Nov 11 and Dec 3 to stimulate the economy. Shoppers can deduct expenses on goods and services during the 23-day period from taxable incomes but not more than 15,000 baht.

Central bank seen keeping rates steady as growth improves Bangkok Post 6th Nov 2017
The central bank is expected to leave its benchmark interest rate near record lows again on Wednesday, with the current level seen supporting the country's economic recovery while inflation stays benign. The Bank of Thailand (BoT) is monitoring the effects of a strong baht on exports, but pressure to cut rates to hold it down has dissipated on improving global demand, recovering consumption and a pick-up in tourism. It has said financial conditions and ample liquidity are supportive of growth, and has warned of risks from a prolonged low interest rate environment.

Thailand keen to kick-start RCEP talks Bangkok Post 6th Nov 2017
Thailand vows to push ahead the proposal to launch negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), aiming to introduce the idea to leaders at the Asean Summit even as the latest senior official meeting in South Korea failed to produce a negotiation framework. Ronnarong Phoolpipat, deputy director-general of the Commerce Ministry's Trade Negotiation Department, said senior officials from interested RCEP countries met last month in Seoul and hoped to decide on a time frame for negotiations at the summit held in the Philippines Nov 13-14. Several countries are still worried about protecting their manufacturing and agriculture sectors, creating only short lists of goods to be included in the tariff cuts, making it harder to start the RCEP free trade zone.

Department aims to better business registration system Bangkok Post 3rd Nov 2017
The Commerce Ministry plans more measures to help facilitate the process of doing business in Thailand, expecting the country to earn a better ranking in the World Bank's ease of doing business report next year. Kulanee Issaisai, director-general of the Commerce Ministry's Business Development Department, said the first measure is expected to begin shortly, cutting down on the duration of new business registration to 3.5 days from 4.5 days. To shorten the time frame, she said the department would cut the number of processes from five to make it easier for both Thai and foreign investors.Thailand surges in ranking for Ease of Doing Business Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2017
Thailand ranked 26th in the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business report, a surge of 20 ranks on the previous rating and beating the movement of its peers in Asean. Thailand was placed 46th in the 2017 report. In the latest report, Thailand scores 77.44 points compared with 72.53 a year earlier. 

Energy

B96.9bn investment likely for renewables Bangkok Post 10th Nov 2017
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) says the new investment budget for renewable power next year could reach 96.9 billion baht for projects that could ultimately generate 1,794 megawatts. The figures exclude businesses that generate power on their own and residential solar rooftops. The ERC has yet to finalise regulations for licences granted to those who want to develop their own solar rooftops, said commissioner Veeraphol Jirapraditkul. He said the new investment of 96.9 billion baht is for renewable projects expected to start commercial operations from early 2019.

Thai government expects auctions of Erawan, Bongkot fields in Dec 2017 Reuters 7th Nov 2017
Thailand’s government expects to hold an auction for the Erawan and Bongkot natural gas fields in December after two delays, a senior government official said on Tuesday. The government is currently drafting the terms of the auction and the production sharing agreement, Veerasak Pungrassamee, director-general of the mineral fuels department told reporters, adding that the auction terms should be approved by November and announced in December. The auction process is expected to take seven months and winners will be announced in the middle of 2018, he said.

Thai government braces for legal action over gold mine closure Reuters 3rd Nov 2017
Thailand defended on Friday its decision to close the country’s only active gold mine last year, after its Australian operator said it would launch legal proceedings against the government. The military government closed down the Chatree mine, located 240 km (174 miles) north of Bangkok, under an executive power in December 2016, citing environmental and health concerns. Australian mining company Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd , which had operated Chatree since 2001 under its Thai subsidiary Akara Resources Public Co Ltd and had a valid mining license through 2028, says the premature closure of the mine was unlawful.

Financial Services

Thai banks' loans may grow close to 4 pct this year - c.bank Reuters 10th Nov 2017
Thai commercial banks’ loans may grow close to 4 percent this year, while non-performing loans are expected to peak in the final quarter of the year, a senior central bank official said on Friday. In August, the central bank said banks’ loans could expand 4-6 percent this year. Last year, loans rose just 2 percent, the smallest pace in seven years. “This year’s loan (growth) should be close to 4 percent, the low end of a 4-6 percent range,” Daranee Saeju, senior director of the Bank of Thailand’s financial institutions strategy department, told a news conference, citing some other sources of funding as a factor.

SEC amendments aim to protect investors in bills of exchange Bangkok Post 9th Nov 2017
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is revising relevant rules and regulations on securities investment in response to changing market conditions and to ensure better protection for investors, with the amended rules to take effect next April. The key amendment for bill of exchange (B/E) issuance that the SEC plans to announce and put into effect by April would limit private placement to a maximum of 10 high-net-worth and institutional investors, said SEC assistant secretary-general Charuphan Intararoong.

Thailand’s Finance Minister Defends Plan to Take Money from Dormant Bank Accounts Chiang Rai Times 9th Nov 2017
Thailand’s Finance Minister said on Thursday, a planned Thai law to allow the transfer of money from bank accounts left inactive for more than 10 years to the treasury “will be in the public interest”. The move would help reduce the government’s borrowing costs in maintaining the treasury level, Apisak Tantivorawong told Reuters. “Those accounts parked with the government will be useful for the public as they can be counted as treasury money,” he said. “But I can confirm that it’s not seizing people’s money as reported,” he said, adding account owners or their heirs would be able to reclaim the money at any time.

BitThai.Net Officially Launch of Thailand's Newest Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform PR News Wire 3rd Nov 2017
Thailand's newest cryptocurrency exchange platform BitThai.Net will hold an official launch event on 5th Nov. 2017 at SO Sofitel Bangkok. The event will be attended by the CEO of BitThai.Net, Ms.Liu Rui Jia, along with Thai government officials, representatives of the Australian government who support the intiaitive, and representatives from different blockchain companies such as Qtum, Hcash, Energo Labs, Ink Chain, and Medibloc. .

Food & Agriculture

PM’s Office regulation published, paving way for national forest policy committee The Nation 7th Nov 2017
The new PM’s Office regulation in regard to the national forest policy committee came into effect on Tuesday after being published in the Royal Gazette yesterday, paving the way for the establishment of the committee to address and put in place forestry policies as well as strategies that would be in line with the national strategy and reform plans concerning the sector. The committee, as addressed in the regulation, would be chaired by a prime minister, joined by related ministers including the ministerial head of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, forestry chiefs, as well as appointed forestry experts.

Shakeup in Thai poultry industry as human health fears grow Nikkei Asian Review 7th Nov 2017
The fresh meat counter at a supermarket in Ari, a wealthy Bangkok neighborhood, has a new crop of signs to reassure customers eyeing trays laden with pink chicken parts. "Our chicken is health conscious," the pink and white signs tell shoppers, backed up by blue and white stickers asserting that the products, supplied by Betagro, Thailand's second largest poultry supplier, have been "raised without antibiotics." The supermarket messages reflect growing concerns about the consequences for human health of the widespread use of antimicrobial drugs as aids to production in the food industry. Betagro's decision to stop the routine use of antibiotics is intended to protect sales of the 140 million birds it produces annually.

Exporters seek to regain market share Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2017
Thailand plans to snatch back its market share for premium-grade white rice by exporting more to its traditional markets, including Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian countries. Charoen Laothammatas, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, said Thailand's market share for the segment has hovered around 40% the past few years. It used to control 90% in the past, leading the association to work closely with the Commerce Ministry on more proactive marketing to regain market share.

Rubber growers plan rally over price drop Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2017
Rubber growers from the South plan to gather in the capital to pressure the military regime into propping up falling prices in all central rubber markets in the South, according to an informed source. They are mulling a protest at the Agriculture Ministry, the source added. At a recent meeting, rubber growers agreed the rubber price problem had reached a point where they have to do something.

‘Find right markets’ before hiking organic rice output The Nation 5th Nov 2017
The government has to find the right market for organic rice before it encourages farmers to increase the area producing the crop from 300,000 rai (48,000 hectares) this year to 1 million rai in 2019, Thai Rice Exporters Association president Pol Lieute-nant Charoen Leothamatas said.He added that when farmers grow organic rice for export, they need a certificate to prove it matches global standards, and that was both difficult and expensive to achieve. If the government wants to promote the country as an organic rice producer, it has to help farmers to apply for global organic rice certification, help develop rice seed and find a market with the right demand for the product, Charoen said recently.

Thailand's new investment chief eager to spur 'smart farming' Nikkei Asian Review 1st Nov 2017
The Thai government is expanding tax and other incentives designed to strengthen the country's industries. A top priority is accelerating the modernization of agriculture, which accounts for nearly 40% of the workforce but only 12% of gross domestic product.  Duangjai Asawachintachit, the new secretary-general of the Board of Investment, outlined her plans for luring high-tech industries and developing talent at a recent news conference. When it comes to farming, she said, "We promote activities that help to contribute turning traditional farming into smart farming." Duangjai, who served for seven years as a deputy chief of the board, was promoted to the top job on Oct. 1. On her watch, the board is to create a new investment category called "smart farming services" and will promote it by offering tax breaks and other perks. The program is likely to cover everything from advanced irrigation systems to fertilizers and crop distribution.

Rice group eyes record exports The Nation 1st Nov 2017
The Thai Rice Association is confident that exports of the staple will this year come in at 11 million tonnes, which would mark a record high for overseas shipments.The optimism is based on strong demand in the market and the government’s barn rice-pledging programme that has helped to maintain prices, the association’s president, Pol Lt Charoen Laothamatas, said yesterday. “We are confident that rice exports this year will show growth both in terms of volume and value, as the demand for Thai rice has been strong,” Charoen said after taking rice importers from Hong Kong on a tour of a Hom Mali rice field in Ubon Ratchathani province yesterday.

Health & Life Sciences

Overseas patients drive profits at Thai hospital operator BDMS Reuters 10th Nov 2017
Thailand’s largest private hospital operator, Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) , reported better than expected third quarter profits on Friday after attracting more patients from overseas. BDMS, which is owned by tycoon Prasert Prasatthong-osoth who also owns Bangkok Airways, operates 45 hospitals. It also booked revenue from two new hospitals in Thailand this year. Profits of 2.42 billion baht ($73 million) for the three months ending in September were up 3.5 percent from a year earlier and beat market forecasts of 2.17 billion baht based on a Reuters poll of three analysts.

Invasive flatworms spreading their territory Bangkok Post 10th Nov 2017
A continued slew of discoveries of New Guinea flatworms, on the list of the world's 100 worst invasive alien species, has been reported in several provinces and the capital. The New Guinea flatworm, also known as Platydemus manokwariis, is a species of large, predatory land flatworm. It has been accidentally introduced to the soil of many countries around the world, including the US and now Thailand. The flatworms also were found at a farm in Nakhon Ratchasima's Wang Nam Khieo district, raising fears the species might invade the Unesco World Heritage site of Dong Phayayen-Khaoyai Forest Complex.

Fake Pharma thrives on the Mekong Asia Times 9th Nov 2017
Fake pharmaceuticals are continuing to flood into clinics and hospitals across Asia despite crackdowns by global counterfeiting hubs China and India, with suppliers simply crossing the border to less-regulated Mekong countries. The issue comes to light as global leaders descend on Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade promotion summit that starts in the city of Da Nang on November 10.

Growing obesity: A huge economic burden on Thailand  The Nation 7th Nov 2017
Obesity and overweight is on a long-term upwards trend, with adult overweight prevalence rising from 26 per cent in 1995 to 35 per cent by 2009, according to the report commissioned by the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN). Obesity in Thailand is largely driven by poor dietary choices and the prevalence of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods. Societal factors such as the country’s family planning programme have also resulted in fewer children per family, which has led to a tendency for parents to overfeed. In the last year, Thailand has seen an increase in obese and overweight children from 12.5 per cent to 13.3 per cent, according to the Policy and Strategy Bureau of the Ministry of Public Health.

ICT

Depa plans fund to develop digital champions Bangkok Post 6th Nov 2017
The government plans to increase the number of active digital startups in the country to 10,000 by 2027, up from 2,000 this year. The move aims to help develop new-economy national champions that will help propel the nation to the next level of competitiveness. To support the government's target, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) will create a 100-million-baht fund, which could take at least 20 active startups to market by next year.

E-transition will take some time in Thailand Bangkok Post 6th Nov 2017
Thailand continues to lay the foundations for a digital economy and is gradually nudging the country in the direction of a cashless society. The centrepiece of the government effort is PromptPay, an electronic money transfer service that links an ID card or mobile number with a bank account and now has more than 32 million registrations. Other measures include expansion of electronic data capture (EDC) terminal use to support all kinds of cards, as well as the e-welfare cards that were launched recently. But Thailand still has a long way to go, according to the research report Digital Planet 2017, conducted by US-based Tufts University in partnership with Mastercard.

Thailand to roll out biometric checks for SIM cards nationwide Reuters 6th Nov 2017
Thailand will introduce biometric checks nationwide for mobile telephone users to register their SIM cards from Dec. 15, the telecoms regulator said on Monday, in a bid to stamp out fraudulent electronic transactions. The new rules require users to either have their fingerprints verified or their faces scanned. The regulator first launched the system in June in Thailand’s troubled south where a separatist insurgency has persisted for more than a decade, killing more than 6,500 people since 2004.

Fintech outlays booming Bangkok Post 4th Nov 2017
Fintech startups in Thailand have been growing at a fast pace, from fewer than 10 to more than 100 over the past three years, thanks to funding support from financial institutions, says the Thai Fintech Association. President Jessada Sookdhis said local banks have channelled investment to fintech startups worth hundreds of millions of baht. Most Thai financial institutions support fintech startups through business partnerships.

Digital content tipped to hit Bt26.8 bn next year The Nation 2nd Nov 2017
DEPA president Nuttapon Nimmanpatcharin said the agency had cooperated with IDC on a survey that found that the demand in the digital content industry in Thailand was continuing to grow. On the basis of the survey, the Bt26.8 billion figure was determined for the value of the digital content industry in 2018. This would represent growth of 11.37 per cent from that expected in 2017.

Thailand Board of Investment: Thailand Primes for Digital Bigtime PR Newswire 2nd Nov 2017
Thailand is particularly well situated to make the leap to a digital-first economy: Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) recently introduced Thailand Investment Review (pdf) presents BOI Net Application, Thailand 4.0 story displays an economic model aimed at attracting and supporting innovative, high-tech companies. Under this initiative, Thailand is positioned to accelerate its ascension to digital powerhouse status by increasing infrastructure investments, focusing on workforce training, stimulating entrepreneurial creativity, and reshaping the professional culture of a country that's only at the start of its technology revolution.

EIT envisions 'smart future' for Thailand Bangkok Post 2nd Nov 2017
The Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) predicts that robotics and artificial intelligence will become part of infrastructure projects, home-building and utility services in the future. Thanet Veerasiri, president of the EIT, said urban living trends will move towards "smart living", and future urban life and housing are likely to become increasingly modernised and convenient.

NBTC approval for use of IoT spectrum imminent Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2017
The final draft for using Internet of Things (IoT) on the 920-925 megahertz spectrum will be approved by the board of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Nov 8 after completing the public hearing process on Aug 31.

Thai regulator sets telecoms spectrum auctions for May 2018 Reuters 1st Nov 2017
Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) expects to hold auctions of the 900 and 1800 megahertz (MHz) airwave frequencies in May next year, secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said on Wednesday. Total Access Communication currently operates the 1800 MHz specturm, with state-owned CAT Telecom, and will be under pressure to renew its licence. Other potential bidders include Advance Info Service , True Coroporation and Jasmine International.

Infrastructure

Transport fund IPO postponed to 2018 Bangkok Post 4th Nov 2017
The initial public offering (IPO) of the Thailand Future Fund (TFF), an infrastructure fund to finance transport projects, will be delayed to next year. The TFF's IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) scheduled for this year will remain on track but the unit offering will be launched at the start of next year, Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo), said yesterday at a seminar on the 2018 economic outlook held by Bank of Ayudhya (BAY).

Tourism officials confer with airlines Bangkok Post 4th Nov 2017
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has spoken to airlines about boosting tourism on primary and secondary routes, aiming at source markets such as Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, as well as neighbouring countries. "This is in line with our plan to increase foreign tourism revenue for 2018 by at least 10%," said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn. "The increased air access also corresponds with the Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018, starting from Nov 1 this year." Thai Airways International (THAI) will be resuming Bangkok-Vienna service from Nov 16 after partnering with THAI Smile on flights between Bangkok and Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second city, since October.

Electric trains may seek PPP Bangkok Post 4th Nov 2017
The Purple Line's southern section and the Orange Line are expected to seek Public-Private Partnership (PPP) committee approval next year, says the head of the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo). The panel, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, yesterday acknowledged the progress of eight fast-track projects under the PPP scheme, including the Purple and Orange line electric trains, said Ekniti Nitithanprapas, the director-general of Sepo. He expects the private sector will be invited next year to bid on the Purple Line, linking Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road and Tao Poon, and the Orange Line, linking Bang Khun Non and Min Buri.

Government wants to attract luxury liners Bangkok Post 3rd Nov 2017
The government is being urged to speed up the development of infrastructure for luxury cruises in order to attract high-end tourists to Thailand. Deputy Prime Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn said the latest tourism research jointly conducted by the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Tourism Council of Thailand and Thailand Research Fund (TRF) suggests Thailand should develop facilities to accommodate luxury cruises because they bring in visitors who spend more. The spending of cruise visitors averages 6,174 baht a day, higher than the average of 4,000 baht a day spent by all foreign visitors. Cruise tourism in Asia has rapidly grown, especially in Asean.

Plans afoot to revive SEZs as complement to EEC Bangkok Post 3rd Nov 2017
The government plans to revive its special economic zones (SEZs) project to revive the local economy along with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which is designed to be a key engine to support the national economy, says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana. "Both EEC and SEZs will play a major role in supporting the Thai economy. The EEC will be an important engine to draw investment to next-generation industries that use innovation, while the SEZs will enhance growth in local economies," said Mr Uttama. He said the ministry is working to resuscitate the SEZ scheme, the plan for which is expected to be concluded within a month before being submitted to a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Legislation

New Thai Competition law - is it a game changer? Lexology 2nd Nov 2017
The new Thai Competition law, the Trade Competition Act B.E. 2560 (2017), came into force last month on 5 October 2017 (New TCA). The New TCA seeks to modernise the previous competition law in Thailand by introducing numerous significant changes, including in relation to: the composition of the Trade Competition Commission (TCC); merger control thresholds; anti-competitive agreements; exemptions; penalties; and the legal procedure for pursuing a claim. Whilst in some instances, subsidiary legislation will need to be implemented for the changes to take full effect, and further clarifications are needed by way of guidelines from the TCC, the New TCA has certainly renewed focus on the competition landscape in Thailand.