Thailand Update: May 31, 2018

Thailand Update | May 31, 2018
Authors: Matt Solomon, Ella Duangkaew, Piranat Viriyaprapaikit
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 26-28: 2018 Thailand Business Mission: The Council is now registering senior-level executives for its annual Business Mission to Thailand. The deadline for registration is Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Please click HERE to register and contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org for any questions.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Economic Growth Hits 5-Year High as Exports Climb

On May 21, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) reported that they project Thailand’s GDP to grow in the range of 4.2 to 4.7 percent for 2018. The report detailing this projection can be found here. With a 4.8 percent growth in the first quarter of 2018, the economy has seen a steady growth since the GDP contraction of 0.9 percent in 2014 resulting from the political unrest. The report shows several promising growth indicators including exports rising by 6 percent, tourism-based income jumping 16.8 percent, private consumption gaining 3.6 percent, and government spending rising by 1.9 percent. Moreover, the baht is among the few emerging-market currencies that has gained against the dollar this year.

NESDB Deputy Secretary-General Wichayayuth Boonchit stated that the increase is driven by an acceleration in spending by the public and private sectors, as well as increased domestic consumption. Over these past four years, the government has also initiated numerous industrial modernization and public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure developments. Three big projects are expected this year with investment of about Bt446.87 billion (USD$13 million ), according to Prapas Kong-Ied, director-general of State Enterprise Policy Office. Although the project installations may take place this year, there are growing concerns that the planned 2019 election may impact the direction of these investments as well as the likeliness of legislative changes.

Business Development Department Reviewing Foreign Ownership Caps

On May 21, Director-General of the Ministry of Commerce’s Business Development Department Kulanee Issadisai announced that the department will be reviewing specific laws governing foreign ownership caps of Thai businesses. The call for change transpired after foreign businesses repeatedly raised concerns regarding the limit on foreign ownership in certain areas to only 49 percent under Thailand’s Foreign Business Act (FBA). The Act can be found in English here. The FBA limits foreign shareholding to 49% and includes three categories of activity where foreign participation may be prohibited or restricted. Activities in List 1 are designated as "businesses not permitted for foreigners to operate due to special reasons." Activities in List 2 are designated as "businesses related to national safety or security, or affecting arts and culture, traditional and folk handicraft, or natural resources and environment." Activities in List 3 are designated as "businesses in which Thai nationals are not yet ready to compete with foreigners."

After discussions with nearly 30 countries from the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce to discuss the FBA, especially its impact on investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor, the Thai Chamber of Commerce deemed it necessary to review the FBA to attract more foreign investment, allow for increased foreign ownership, and create greater competition. Director-General Kulanee stated that the review will focus on activities in List 3 for which Thai nationals are now ready to compete, as well as businesses related to the targeted S-curve industries, including digital, robotics and automation, biofuel and biochemicals, aviation and logistics, and medical hubs. The Department officials are accepting comments from related agencies such as the Board of Investment, the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, the Lawyers Council of Thailand, and the Federation of Accounting Professions.

Government Confident in U-Tapao International Airport Project

On May 30, the Minister of Industry Uttama Savanayana expressed confidence that the construction of the U-Tapao International Airport project will commence as scheduled despite delays in the implementation of the Eastern Economic Corridor Act, which dictates the project. The Minister stated that he is optimistic the delays have not warded off any potential investors, as the project’s international bidding will commence as planned with private companies competing for various jobs in the aviation facilities within the airport. Potential investors include Thai Airways international (THAI) who had expressed that they are willing to allocate 10 billion baht for investment in the development of a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) center within U-Tapao Airport.

The project will span 6500-rai or 2570 acres, estimated to cost around 200 billion baht (USD$6.2M), and will be utilizing public-private partnerships (PPP) to reduce its budget and attract private investors both domestically and internationally. The five-year construction of the airport will also lead to the development of a city to accommodate tourists called the “Eastern Airport City,” where the ambition is to create a financial hub in eastern Thailand. Apart from the massive airport project, the government is also commencing a high-speed train project connecting Thailand’s three airports Don Muang, Suvarnabhumi, and U-Tapao. The new EEC investment plans are meant to ease air traffic congestion in Bangkok, support the tourism industry in Thailand, and attract new foreign investors.

The U-Tapao International Airport and the Eastern Airport City are all part of a massive government project under the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Bill, which is a large part of the Thailand 4.0 economic model (see here for more information on the Bill, which was passed earlier in May). The EEC’s aim is to support the fast-growing industries that accelerate economic growth and provide infrastructure for increased foreign investments in Thailand. The eventual goal of the EEC is to attract additional investments in the Thai economy to make the historically underdeveloped Eastern region of Thailand a hub of trade and investment, a center for regional transportation and logistics, and an attractive location for tourists.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
  • On May 21, the Council and BSA submitted joint supplemental comments on Thailand's Draft Cybersecurity Bill, following joint comments submitted on April 17. The draft bill (found here in Thai, with an unofficial translation found here). BSA previously submitted comments on an earlier draft of the Cybersecurity Bill in 2015 (found here). For any questions, please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
E-waste crackdown reaches Chon Buri, as police sniff hazard in Laem Chabang Estate
Protesters vow rally for election at Government House
PM assures South Koreans of friendly investing climate

Customs
Shipments rise for 14th straight month
USTR Launches Review of Thailand’s GSP Eligibility Based on Concerns with Market Access for U.S. Pork

Economics
BoT expects profit for 2018
Cabinet approves medium-term fiscal plan until 2021
US oil exports to Thailand, China, India surge
Thailand slips to 30th in global competitiveness
Growth view up to 4.2-4.7%
LMC: Asean sales to surge
Thailand economic growth surges to 5-year high in Q1 as exports climb
FPO pushing bill on private trusts

Energy
Thai firm signs Laos power deal
Samut Prakan taps Siemens turbines

Financial Services
Does Philippine Licensing Problems Offer an Opportunity to Thailand? – Asean, Philippines
Digital asset decrees to merge
Digital needs of SMEs being taught to bankers
Thailand: Actuary shortage expected to worsen
SEC restricts initial ICOs to local firms
Report shows mixed results for 2018 crypto asset issuances 
Thailand Introduced Legal Framework, But Players Don’t Know How to Comply
OIC Announces ICPs Draft Notifications on Insurance Fraud

Food & Agriculture
April exports soar, durian sales to China up 700%
Rice auction turns heads
Suwaphan to head forest panel
Pressure builds for ban on herbicides
Money spent on farm projects has multiplier effect throughout economy 
Cheap loans, tailored fertiliser offered to farmers
Two cheap loan projects launched for farmers
Vietnam farm products exported to Thailand

Health & Life Sciences
Caution urged to prevent outbreak of Nipah virus
Nationwide inspections over e-waste disposal fears
Universal healthcare policy of greatest interest to Thais: poll

ICT
Digital asset framework enters hearing phase
Thailand is new dumping ground for world's high-tech trash, police say
Thai Gov’t monitoring online information
Police and NBTC join in committee to combat illegal use of VoIP
EcommerceIQ looks into hiring and keeping talent
Regtech to get push of data privacy compliance
Startups get a boost with new official website

Infrastructure
Bang Sue megastation project reaches halfway mark
BTS aims to double revenue in five years
Three projects look to get on PPP fast-track
BMA agrees to offer more elevators for disabled
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

E-waste crackdown reaches Chon Buri, as police sniff hazard in Laem Chabang Estate The Nation 29th May 2018
The crackdown began on last Tuesday when National police deputy chief Pol General Wirachai Songmetta led a raid on a waste management plant in Chachoengsao’s Plaeng Yao district, responding to an allegation that hazardous industrial waste had been smuggled from abroad to be burned at the facility, spreading toxins in the area. Yesterday, Wirachai led a team from the Industry Ministry and Customs Department to inspect factories on Laem Chabang Estate after allegations they had falsely reported their imported cargoes. The search netted a consignment of electric wiring from Japan and Hong Kong which was stuffed into five containers. Wirachai said the police would charge the factory owner for illegal smuggling of electronic waste, and examine the permit of the facility.

Protesters vow rally for election at Government House Bangkok Post 21st May 2018
Activists and democracy supporters said Tuesday's march from Thammasat University to Government House to call for early elections will go ahead as planned. Mr Rangsiman promised a peaceful protest on Tuesday and said the walk to Gen Prayut's office was necessary to pressure the government for a poll after it has been delayed since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took power.

PM assures South Koreans of friendly investing climate Bangkok Post 17th May 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha Wednesday urged South Korean investors to ramp up investment and trade with Thailand and pledged to facilitate their investment in the country. Gen Prayut met Paik Ungyu, South Korea's trade, industry and energy minister, who led 180 South Korean investors to join a seminar on the 60th anniversary of South Korea-Thailand diplomatic relations. Speaking at the Maekyung Thailand Forum, the premier said the government is developing the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) for innovative and high-technology industries that South Koreans should consider investing in.

Customs

Shipments rise for 14th straight month Bangkok Post 23rd May 2018
Exports expanded for a 14th straight month in April, led by stronger shipments of cars and parts, computers and accessories, plastic pellets, finished oil, rice, tapioca products, frozen and processed chicken, and fresh, canned and processed fruits and vegetables. The Commerce Ministry reported yesterday that customs-cleared outbound shipments rose by 12.3% year-on-year in April to US$18.94 billion (607 billion baht) after a 7.1% jump in March. Exports in baht terms edged up by 0.8% in April to 586.3 billion baht.

USTR Launches Review of Thailand’s GSP Eligibility Based on Concerns with Market Access for U.S. Pork United States Trade Representative 17th May 2018
The Office of the United States Trade Representative announced today that it is accepting a petition from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) challenging Thailand’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade preference program. 

Economics

BoT expects profit for 2018 Bangkok Post 29th May 2018
The Bank of Thailand expects its interest income will outpace that paid out this year following global interest rate hikes, making its performance from interest spread swing back to profit for the first time in several years. The central bank's loss from paying higher interest on bond issuance than it earned from foreign reserve investment was narrowed to 15.1 billion baht last year from 29.1 billion in the previous year, said Chantavarn Sucharitakul, assistant governor for corporate strategy and relations group.

Cabinet approves medium-term fiscal plan until 2021 Bangkok Post 29th May 2018
The cabinet yesterday approved a medium-term fiscal plan (2019-2021) as required by the new Fiscal Responsibility Act, which puts more restrictions on government off-budget loan-seeking legislation. Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the PM's Office Minister, said the medium-term fiscal plan calls for the government to run a budget deficit of 450 billion baht between 2018-2019, of 452 billion in 2020, and of 524 billion in 2021.

US oil exports to Thailand, China, India surge Bangkok Post 28th May 2018
SINGAPORE: Record crude oil volumes exported from the United States will be heading to Thailand and elsewhere in Asia in the next couple of months to take another piece of the market away from Russia and producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec). US exports to Thailand will increase to at least 2 million barrels. State oil company PTT Plc is 1 million barrels of WTI Midland, while Thai Oil and Esso Thailand bought at least 500,000 barrels of Bakken crude each, said traders with knowledge of the country's crude deals.

Thailand slips to 30th in global competitiveness Bangkok Post 25th May 2018
Thailand's world competitiveness ranking slipped three spots this year, mainly due to government inefficiency and budget deficits. According to the latest edition from the World Competitiveness Center, a research group at IMD business school in Switzerland, Thailand's ranking fell to 30th from 27th in 2017. Thailand was one of three Asean nations that saw their rankings drop, with Indonesia down one spot at 43rd and the Philippines down nine spots at 50th

Growth view up to 4.2-4.7% Bangkok Post 22nd May 2018
Following a robust first-quarter performance, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) on Monday raised its economic growth forecast to 4.2-4.7% this year from 3.6-4.6% in February. Wichayayuth Boonchit, deputy secretary-general, said the growth will be largely supported by an improvement in global economic growth and rising international commodity prices, driving exports of goods and services; favourable expansion of government consumption and acceleration of public investment; a clearer private investment recovery; and an improvement in household income.

LMC: Asean sales to surge Bangkok Post 22nd May 2018
Light vehicle sales in Asean are expected to show healthy growth this year, led by a rosier outlook for Thailand, but there are gloomier prospects for other key markets, according to research firm LMC Automotive. LMC reported sales across the region rose by 3% to 829,307 units in the first quarter, counting only passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, albeit with mixed results across the five regional markets.

Thailand economic growth surges to 5-year high in Q1 as exports climb The Straits Times 21st May 2018
Thailand's economic growth surged to a five-year high last quarter, beating all economists' estimates as rebounding farm output added to gains from exports and private consumption. Gross domestic product rose 4.8 per cent from a year ago, the National Economic and Social Development Board said on Monday (May 21). That is the fastest pace since 2013. The median estimate of 18 economists in a Bloomberg survey was 4 per cent. GDP rose a seasonally adjusted 2 per cent compared with the previous three months, higher than the 1.2 per cent median estimate.

FPO pushing bill on private trusts Bangkok Post 21st May 2018
The Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) is pushing a draft bill on using private trusts as a tool for the affluent to manage their wealth and prevent them from transferring assets overseas, says a source at the Finance Ministry. The draft, which is undergoing a public hearing to comply with Section 77 of the constitution, will allow financial institutions, securities companies or specific juristic persons to be trustees.

Energy

Thai firm signs Laos power deal The Nation 30th May 2018
Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Public Company Limited (Ratch) is ready for expansion into the 340 megawatt (MW) Xekong hydroelectric power project in Laos in a joint investment with the government in Vientiane. Kijja Sripatthangkura, Ratch CEO, said that the company is pursuing an 850 MW goal for 2018 with Lao World Engineering and Construction Co, Ltd (LW) and B Grimm Power Public Company Limited. They completed the feasibility study together as well as the environmental and social impact assessment that had been approved by the Ministry of Energy and Mines and Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment in Vientiane.

Samut Prakan taps Siemens turbines Bangkok Post 18th May 2018
A new power plant replacement project in Samut Prakan, scheduled to open in 2019, is expected to have the highest power efficiency in Thailand, driven by two advanced Siemens gas turbines. The combined-cycle power facility is meant to generate 1,200 megawatts and power about 1.5 million households. The SGT5-8000H engines that will power the Samut Prakan facility are of the same class as those operating at the Fortuna unit of Lausward power station in Dusseldorf, Germany, said Markus Lorenzini, president and chief executive of Siemens Ltd Thailand.

Financial Services

Does Philippine Licensing Problems Offer an Opportunity to Thailand? – Asean, Philippines Thailand Business News 30th May 2018
Philippines has for a number of years found itself in the unique position of being the only country in Asia that licenses online gambling sites, done under the auspices of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which also runs land-based casinos in the country, along with VIP slots clubs and bingo parlours.

Digital asset decrees to merge Bangkok Post 25th May 2018
The two royal decrees regulating digital asset trade will be revised into a complete act, aiming to prevent any hurdles to startup development and facilitate a proper business ecosystem, says Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam. "We do not object to cryptocurrency trading, but we want [investors] to be informed [of the risks involved]," Mr Wissanu said during "Symposium Thailand 4.0: Fintech & Cryptocurrency vs Law Enforcement". The government's previous intention was to draft an act to regulate digital asset trade, but such a process takes time and requires many details in the drafting procedure, hence the adoption of two emergency decrees, he told the symposium organised by Thammasat University's Faculty of Law.

Digital needs of SMEs being taught to bankers The Nation 25th May 2018
The programme will focus on providing the bank’s business bankers with the skills to help SMEs digitalise and grow their business. The programme will also continue to include training in other areas, including business and finance management, credit knowledge and trade financing. With SMEs accounting for more than 80 per cent of employment and 42 per cent of gross domestic product in the country, UOB wants to ensure it can provide the right advice to help SMEs remain competitive in the digital economy, said Sayumrat Maranate, country head of business banking for UOB Thailand. “Thailand’s economic future hinges on the growth of SMEs,” Sayumrat acknowledges, noting that the bank is already helping SMEs benefit from digital solutions such as UOB BizSmart, a cloud-based integrated digital solution that offers a simple and cost-effective way to manage business administrative processes. “We have also invested in our people to ensure that they have both the skill sets and mindset to help our SME customers understand technology trends that can help our customers to transform their business and to succeed in the digital era,” said Sayumrat. Dr Pipop Udorn, dean of Thammasat Business School at Thammasat University, underlined the importance of bankers who understand the specific needs of SMEs. “SMEs need bankers who understand what it takes to do business in a digital economy and who can help them be more future-ready. This knowledge and competency has implications for how SMEs attain and sustain a competitive advantage,” said Pipop. Adding digital entrepreneurship to the syllbus of the certification programme will better equip business bankers “to help SMEs achieve and sustain their competitive edge,” he said. The three-month UOB-TBS Banker’s Executive Certification Programme combines classroom-based study with practical skills training. It was first rolled out in 2017 as part of UOB’s career leadership development programme to encourage continuous training and skills development among its employees. The Bank trained 25 employees last year and expects to train another 25 small business bankers in 2018.

Thailand: Actuary shortage expected to worsen Asia Insurance Review 23rd May 2018
The shortage of actuaries in Thailand's insurance industry is accelerating and could be aggravated when an insurance law, now being amended, and a new accounting standard take effect. Actuaries are increasingly required to assess enterprise risk management, solvency surveillance, product pricing, and liability valuation, Mr Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn, secretary-general of the Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) said.

SEC restricts initial ICOs to local firms Bangkok Post 22nd May 2018
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will only allow firms registered in Thailand to launch initial coin offering (ICOs) in the initial stage to raise funds from the domestic market. Thai firms registered in overseas markets are not allowed to raise funds through ICOs because they are under other countries' jurisdiction, said Tipsuda Thavaramara, SEC deputy secretary-general.

Report shows mixed results for 2018 crypto asset issuances  The Nation 21st May 2018
This year to date, up to 67 per cent of new crypto assets have sold below their issuance prices, while a few projects have still delivered great performances, such as Zilliqa, Tomochain and Bluzelle. These are the findings of Huobi Research, which published its “2018 H1 Global Blockchain Industry Overview and Prospects” report on Monday. According to the report, crypto-asset crowd-funding exploded last year, with the amount coming in 23 times more than the 2016 level. 

Thailand Introduced Legal Framework, But Players Don’t Know How to Comply Cointelegraph 17th May 2018
On Sunday, May 13, Thailand joined a pool of countries that have introduced regulatory frameworks regarding cryptocurrencies. The 100 section law, published in the country’s Royal Gazette, defines cryptocurrencies as digital assets and digital tokens that fall under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Thai Security Exchange Commission (TSEC), making it the main policeman of crypto transactions in the country.

OIC Announces ICPs Draft Notifications on Insurance Fraud Lexology 17th May 2018
This year, one of the main goals of the Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) is to launch a number of compliance-related regulations to meet the standards of the Insurance Core Principles (ICPs), a globally accepted framework for the promotion of policyholders' protection, and the financial stability of the insurance sector.1 With regards to insurance fraud risks, the OIC believes that such risks are operational risks that could affect income, capital fund and capital maintenance of insurance companies, as well as the reputation of and the public confidence in the insurance industry.

Food & Agriculture

April exports soar, durian sales to China up 700% Bangkok Post 22nd May 2018
The value of exports rose 12.34% year-on-year in April to US$18.94 billion, the 14th consecutive month of growth. Imports were up 20.36% to $20.23 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.29 billion. The country exported 120,000 tonnes of durian, up 135% year-on-year, with a value estimated at $220 million, rising 207% year-on-year. Of this, 56,000 tonnes went to China, a staggering rise of 700%. Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said on Tuesday that the total value of exports in the first four months of this year stood at $81.77 billion, up 11.53%, and  imports were valued at $81.10 billion, up 17.18%. The country had a trade surplus of $673 million for the four months.

Rice auction turns heads Bangkok Post 19th May 2018
The state auction for the final lot of edible-grade rice stocks totalling 43,700 tonnes has drawn active participation from interested bidders, with nine proposing the highest buying prices for the whole amount put up for auction. Adul Chotinisakorn, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said a total of 35 bidders submitted bidding envelopes yesterday and nine of them proposed the highest bidding prices for the entire 43,700 tonnes at a combined 534.08 million baht. Bidding prices ranged from 6,000 to 22,000 baht a tonne, depending on grain type. The bidders proposed buying 5% white rice, the largest portion at 24,500 tonnes and 56.08% of the total, followed by 100% hom mali fragrant jasmine rice (7,300 tonnes).

Suwaphan to head forest panel Bangkok Post 17th May 2018
Prime Minister's Office minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana will be appointed to chair a panel to follow up on state efforts to solve problems involving P-Move, a grassroots network of forest communities. Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who chairs the government's steering committee on national administration, said the meeting had discussed the P-Move issue and agreed to set up a panel to take charge. The committee will go through problems raised by P-Move and will go ahead with issues that do not pose legal challenges, he said, adding that those requiring legal amendments may have to wait.

Pressure builds for ban on herbicides Bangkok Post 17th May 2018
Academic experts have urged the committee making decisions on the use of chemicals to ban the herbicides paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos. "The government should not help a small group benefit by letting the majority suffer from risks arising from the use of these hazardous chemicals," Yupadee Sirisinsuk, deputy manager of the Drug System Monitoring and Development Unit at Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Pharmacies said. "We call on the committee to make the right decision and ban the use of these chemicals in this country," she said. "We can no longer be complacent. As academics, we will move forward giving correct information to people," Ms Yupadee added.

Money spent on farm projects has multiplier effect throughout economy  The Nation 20th May 2018
THAILAND’S Bt42.87-billion budget for agriculture has led to a money flow of about Bt113.52 billion in the economic system, according to the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE). Vinaroj Supsongsuk, OAE director-general, said that the multiplier effect of the government spending on 15 key agriculture-related policies could drive the flow of money to 2.65 times the actual amount budgeted and generate additional farm income. Of these 15 policies a total of Bt42.87 billion is focused on five areas: upgrading agricultural standards for sustainability extending across water resource management, fishery standardisation, development of a rice seed centre, assistance on debts to agricultural cooperative members and the Pracha Rath farm development institute.

Cheap loans, tailored fertiliser offered to farmers The Nation 20th May 2018
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry launched “Kaset Sukjai” cards for more than three million farmers across the country on Sunday. The cards can be used to buy farm-production materials through two Pracha Rath projects, which aim to help reduce farmers’ costs. “The government has approved more than Bt93billion for these projects,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Luck Wajananawat said as he presided over the launch of the projects in Chachoengsao province.

Two cheap loan projects launched for farmers Bangkok Post 20th May 2018
The government has kicked off two major cheap loan projects with a combined value of 93.6 billion baht to help reduce the cost of farming, according to the state-run Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). The projects come in the form of a loan card provided to farmers and a loan to be disbursed to farm cooperatives and community enterprise groups. Farmers will each be given Kaset Sukjai ("Happy Farming") cards with 30,000-baht credit. They can use the cards to buy farm supplies such as fertilisers, pesticides, seeds and fuel as well as small farm machines at the A-Shop on the BAAC application. Materials at the shop are supplied by more than 17,000 participating stores, said Deputy Agriculture Minister Luck Wajananawat.

Vietnam farm products exported to Thailand The Nation 18th May 2018
WHOLESALE supermarket MM Mega Market Vietnam has exported more than 100 tonnes of Vietnamese agricultural products to Thailand for selling through 700 Big C malls, where the two retailers share a parent. Its first batch of farm exports comprise yellow sweet potato, purple sweet potato, dragon fruit, dried fruits, and rice paper. It follows joint efforts by the supermarket and farmers in provinces of Lam Dong and Binh Thuan and other places to meet the quality requirements of business partners.

Health & Life Sciences

Caution urged to prevent outbreak of Nipah virus The Nation 29th May 2018
Health officials across the world are keeping a close eye on the third and latest Nipah virus outbreak in India, where at least 16 cases have been confirmed in Kerala and Karnataka states and 14 people have died. Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, head of the Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said that there are no recorded cases of the infection yet in Thailand. However, he added that the risk of widespread infection remains as the country’s fruit bats are a natural host of the Nipah virus.

Nationwide inspections over e-waste disposal fears The Nation 28th May 2018
A NATIONWIDE INSPECTION of electronic waste recycling plants has been launched to battle the smuggling of hazardous e-waste into the country and ensure proper disposal operations. The Industry Ministry yesterday responded to last week’s investigation of an e-waste smuggling network centred on WMD Thai Recycling Co Ltd that found illegal importing of electronic parts, and environmental impacts from the improper recycling and disposal of hazardous waste.

Universal healthcare policy of greatest interest to Thais: poll The Nation 20th May 2018
A Bangkok Poll found that 57 per cent of respondents to its survey identified free medical coverage or universal healthcare as the policy of greatest interest to them, followed by farm aid (54.4 per cent); those involving welfare, cost of living and income (48.3 per cent); assistance for the underprivileged and the poor (48 per cent), anti-corruption measures (45.7 per cent) and infrastructure (27.7 per cent). When asked what qualities they would want in their prime minister, 66.4 per cent said they wanted a leader with integrity and no corruption record, followed by a resolute leader (46.6 per cent), a leader with proven creativity or with ideas for new projects (45.9 per cent), and a diligent person who works for the people (45.2 per cent).

ICT

Digital asset framework enters hearing phase Bangkok Post 18th May 2018
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has begun the public hearing process on details of the digital asset regulatory framework, with the initial retail investment amount in an initial coin offering (ICO) project capped at 300,000 baht. The process started on May 16 and runs until May 30. Once the process is completed, surveyed opinions will be considered by the SEC and the regulator will begin drafting an organic law to specify business qualifications, fund-raising framework and qualifications of different types of investors investing in digital assets.

Thailand is new dumping ground for world's high-tech trash, police say The Straits Times 30th May 2018
Thailand is a new dumping ground for scrap electronics from around the world, say police and environmentalists, the latest country to feel the impact of China's crackdown on imports of high-tech trash. Police at Laem Chabang port, south of Bangkok, showed on Tuesday (May 29) seven shipping containers each packed with about 22 tonnes of discarded electronics, including crushed game consoles, computer boards and bags of scrap materials.

Thai Gov’t monitoring online information Pattaya Mail 27th May 2018
Security agencies are monitoring false, distorted, and fabricated reports online in a bid to maintain national security. Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has instructed responsible units to monitor online information and bring those who spread false information deemed a threat to national security to justice.

Police and NBTC join in committee to combat illegal use of VoIP Pattaya Mail 25th May 2018
The Royal Thai Police Office is working with the National Broadcast and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to take aggressive action against companies offering illegal Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, which are utilized by telephone scammers. Tourist Police have coordinated with the NBTC’s telecommunications administration office to create a joint committee for inspection of VoIP providers that utilize signals managed by TOT, CAT Telecom, True, AIS and DTAC after finding the service is being used for confidence trick schemes.

EcommerceIQ looks into hiring and keeping talent Bangkok Post 24th May 2018
Digital marketing, senior management and tech are the three departments that struggle the most to find quality talent, according to the Talent Challenge Community Survey in Southeast Asia by EcommerceIQ, a regional market research portal. The survey found that every regional tech company interviewed cited difficulties finding, recruiting and retaining top talent when asked about major challenges.

Regtech to get push of data privacy compliance Bangkok Post 22nd May 2018
New compliance regulations concerning digital disruption and data privacy protection are driving opportunities for a new type of startup -- regulatory technology (regtech) -- in Thailand. "Regtech is a combination of technology and regulations to address regulatory challenges," said Athistha Chitranukroh, a partner at Tilleke & Gibbins.

Startups get a boost with new official website Bangkok Post 21st May 2018
The National Innovation Agency (NIA) has launched "startupthailand.org", a revamped version of its former website aimed at becoming a hub for Thai startups and fostering growth in the Thai startup ecosystem. The site is an ecosystem database that allows businesses from the Thai startup community to register and receive accreditation from the Ministry of Science and Technology's Startup Thailand scheme. It will enable them to gain access to various privileges from the government such as tax exemptions and funding.

Infrastructure

Bang Sue megastation project reaches halfway mark Bangkok Post 27th May 2018
Construction for the Bang Sue Central Station, set to replace Hua Lamphong as the capital's main rail transport hub, is now almost 50% complete, SRT Red electric train line project director Kumpol Boonchom says. According to Mr Kumpol, the megastation, spanning more than 240,000 sq m, and located near the Bang Sue junction on Thoet Damri road, will be a hub for high-speed rail links in addition to standard electric train lines and diesel trains.

BTS aims to double revenue in five years The Nation 23rd May 2018
Also projecting strong revenue gains is subsidiary VGI Global Media, which is looking to reach the Bt10 billion mark in annual sales in three years. BTS Group Holdings Plc chairman Keeree Kanjanapas said that the group expects that over the five years it would boost its revenue by 25 per cent each year. He said it would do so by advancing its pipeline of projects, such as those involving the collaboration with Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Plc (STEC) and Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc (Ratch) for the establishment of the BSR consortium in order to bid for the high-speed and double-track rail projects in the EEC.

Three projects look to get on PPP fast-track Bangkok Post 22nd May 2018
At least three projects worth 447 billion baht under the fast-track public-private partnership scheme are expected to seek the PPP committee's approval this year. The three projects are the Orange Line's eastern and western sections from Taling Chan to Min Buri, worth 238 billion baht; the Purple Line's southern extension between Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road and Tao Poon, valued at 128 billion; and the Nakhon Pathom to Cha-am, Phetchaburi motorway project, worth 80.6 billion, said Prapas Kong-Ied, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office (Sepo).

BMA agrees to offer more elevators for disabled Bangkok Post 19th May 2018
City Hall is prepared to invest 256 million baht to add 19 elevators for the disabled at 16 BTS Green Line stations, following pressure from disabled rights activists. A construction timetable is not yet finalised because there is no official budget approval from the Bangkok Metropolitan Council, deputy Bangkok governor Jakkapan Phiewngam, told the media after an inspection at the BTS Chong Nonsi station on Friday.