Thailand Update: June 14, 2018

Thailand Update | June 14, 2018
Authors: Matt Solomon, Ella Duangkaew, Piranat Viriyaprapaikit
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 26-28: Thailand Business Mission: The early bird registration deadline has passed for our 2018 Thailand Business Mission from June 26-28. If you are still interested in registering, or have any questions, please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org.

June 27-30: Program to Expand Thai Rubber Trade Market in Southern Thailand: Please join the Rubber Authority of Thailand (RAOT) for a Rubber Seminar and Field Trip Program in Southern Thailand. The program will showcase Thailand’s standing as a natural rubber exporter and will provide opportunities to form new partnerships in the natural rubber market. All costs for the program are covered by the Thai Government. This program is ideal for companies that will be attending the Thailand Business Mission, as the program will take place directly after our Mission. The full agenda can be found here, as well as the registration form. If interested in registering, or if you have any questions, please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

20-Year National Strategy to be Debated by NLA

On June 7, the Government of Thailand showcased its proposed “20-year national strategy” at an exhibition held at CentralWorld, a major shopping complex in Bangkok. Minister Kobsak Pootrakool, Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, announced that the long-term strategy will lay the necessary framework for future governments to follow in order to foster economic development and prevent inconsistency in governmental policy. The national strategy has been in the process of development since the military government transitioned into power in 2014, with the Prime Minister as the head of the project. The concept of the strategy was controversially included in the government’s Constitution, laying the groundwork for the administration’s continued influence even following proposed elections. The strategy has yet to be debated and approved by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). 

The comprehensive strategy includes a projection of Thailand’s political, economic and societal status in 20 years, as well as opportunities and challenges from internal and external factors, a six-part long term strategy, and methods of implementing the strategy for the next 20 years.  The long-term strategy covers 11 areas with focuses on politics, national administration, defense, media and information technology, social development and human security, inequality, natural resources and environment, anti-corruption, education, police, public health, and national economy. The document can be found in Thai here.

Although the plan was met with criticism by some observers in that it obligates future governments to follow the military government’s plan or risk being punished, Minister Kobsak highlighted that Thailand needs a solid and stable framework for the country to develop. It is unclear when the strategy will be adopted by the NLA, nor if the plan will truly be upheld under future governments. However, if the plan is adopted and upheld as proposed, it may lend to greater predictability in terms of economic policymaking that may boost investor confidence in Thailand, particularly given the uncertainty surrounding the political situation in Thailand.

Royal Decree to Terminate IBF Corporate Tax Exemption

On June 6, the Cabinet of Thailand approved a royal decree to terminate a 10 percent exemption from corporate tax for international banking facilities (IBF). The termination is based on a recommendation by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for countries looking to adopt the inclusive framework for base erosion and profit-shifting (BEPS).  The Finance Ministry estimates that the government will receive an additional 30-60 million baht (USD$930K-$1.8M) a year from scrapping the corporate tax exemption. In addition, Nathporn Chatusripitak, an advisor to the Prime Minister's Office, stated that compliance with the OECD suggestion will create a better image for Thailand in terms of transparency of tax collection and avoiding hostile trading policies from other countries.

By complying to the OECD requirements, Thailand is displaying its openness to international regulations and responsiveness to concerns regarding their governmental transparency. The Council has referenced the OECD BEPS framework in advocacy submissions regarding the proposed VAT on e-Commerce operators, and Thailand’s closer adoption of the framework would be commendable. However, it is concerning that this action would apply exclusively to international banking facilities, which may indicate protectionist measures in favor of domestic banks. It is unclear if this action will significantly impact IBF, but should that be the case it will be important to advocate against domestic preferential measures, while still commending Thailand’s adoption of global best standards such as the OECD BEPS framework.

Thailand to Set Up Fifth-Generation (5G) Wireless Systems by 2020

On June 7, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak announced that Thailand has committed to developing the necessary telecommunications infrastructure to fully adopt fifth-generation (5G) wireless systems by 2020. The development of this infrastructure will be overseen by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) along with the private sector.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid also stated that the appropriate digital infrastructure could potentially lead to a huge leap in e-commerce, as the current trade value for e-commerce already reaches US$80 billion (2.55 trillion baht). Thailand’s digital development will help accelerate economic growth from the reduction of income disparity and stronger rural development. The NBTC plans to allocate a total of 380 MHz of downlink and uplink slots through four spectrum ranges by 2020.

With the Thailand 4.0 economic model and Eastern Economic Corridor plans commencing, technology and telecommunications will play significant roles in facilitating economic growth in the coming years. In addition, recent upward economic growth indications such as 4 percent GDP growth and an increase from .78 to 1 percent in R&D expenditure shows that Thailand is not only open to new foreign investment opportunities, but that the government is ready to provide the necessary infrastructure for investments to take place.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Thailand rises above G7 trade spat

National Affairs
Emergency decree enforcement in South extended a further three months
Campaigns 'must follow rules': PM
Thai industry declares war on plastic pollution with ‘unprecedented’ public-private effort
Education reform to make officials accountable
Thai ministry to review nod for skilled foreigners

Customs
Fears grow over waste imports
Thailand to squeeze Vietnam on car checks

Defense & Security
Thailand developing closer ties with the US

Economics
Key airports' passengers to hit 200m, says Arkhom
Portugal drives for rise in Thai investments
Survey puts Thailand at the top for MICE visitors
State-owned banks extends Bt828m for 36 Startup projects
IMF backs Bank of Thailand's policy stance
NESDB: Room for growth for social enterprises

Energy
Thailand Biogas and Biomass Market is Expected to Reach Installed Capacity of 4,750 MW by 2022: Ken Research
Thai firm signs Laos power deal
Inflation Bogeyman Prompts Fuel Subsidies Across Southeast Asia
Social Media Furor Hits Oil Giant as Fuel Costs Squeeze Thailand

Financial Services
Thailand: Regulator to broaden insurance distribution avenues
Thailand to launch Mekong regional fund to reduce China dependence
SME Bank looks to increase public service account share
Grab readying financial services in Thailand
KBank digital lending busts out of the gate
Does Philippine Licensing Problems Offer an Opportunity to Thailand? – Asean, Philippines

Food & Agriculture
Firm removed from supplier list after school milk scare
Agri-business Sima Asean Thailand underway at Impact
BAAC sets up B1.67bn in loans for withholding paddy
Pineapple price bounce seen
Free milk leaves sour taste
Thailand, not Vietnam, is exporting 'pho' to the US

Health & Life Sciences
National parks, zoos to soon ban plastic bags and containers, says Minister
Solution to plastic waste lies in burning it for energy, says ministry
Phyathai 2 pumps B100m into heart centre upgrade
Work-blinded young mother donates equipment to hospital
High hopes
Turned off in Asia
Welfare scheme budget to drop by 13%
Health fears over e-waste inundation
Dengue outbreak in lower Northeast
Protesters push for toxic pesticide ban
Bird flu prevention measures in Thailand
Supplement scare prompts inspection of all factories
Hospitals call off strike over management of personnel
Finance Ministry postpones new hiring rules
Allianz Ayudhya offers health insurance with BDMS

ICT
Digital content on the rise
SEC releases crypto details
NBTC ordered to set up 5G by 2020
Banks can sell products via telephone, post offices
Acing the logistics of e-commerce
Think tank: Fewer jobs as technology upends sectors
Thailand is new dumping ground for world's high-tech trash, police say

Infrastructure
U-tapao aerotropolis to open for bids in October
Aviation agency remains wary of airport privatisation

Manufacturing
Making garbage count
Heat on Vietnam car barriers rises
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Thailand rises above G7 trade spat Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2018
The trade spat between the US and its key allies along with Argentina's financial crisis have led to capital outflows from emerging market economies, but Thailand's economic fundamentals have helped mitigate such sales, say analysts. Despite the IMF's agreement to provide financial assistance, Argentina's struggling economy, exacerbated by high inflation, has fuelled concerns that such a crisis could spill over to other emerging economies such as Turkey, India and Indonesia, said Prakit Sirivattanaket, vice-president at Kasikorn Securities.

National Affairs

Emergency decree enforcement in South extended a further three months The Nation 14th Jun 2018
The government has extended the state of emergency in the three southernmost provinces for a further three months. The extension was announced in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday. The emergency decree covers Narathiwat except Sungai Kolok district, Yala except Betong district and Pattani except Mae Lan district. The announcement of the emergency decree in Royal Gazette states that the extension is to allow the authorities to operate with more efficiency and arrest suspected insurgents faster.

Campaigns 'must follow rules': PM Bangkok Post 7th Jun 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha Wednesday shrugged off growing calls for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to lift a ban on political activities, hinting the government was unlikely to let election campaigns proceed freely. Pressure was intensifying on the regime to allow parties to resume activities after the Constitutional Court on Tuesday cleared the last possible legal controversy that could push back a general election tentatively scheduled for February.

Thai industry declares war on plastic pollution with ‘unprecedented’ public-private effort The Nation 5th Jun 2018
EVERY MINISTRY in Thailand has agreed to curb its use of plastic bags and foam packaging as part of the government’s pledge yesterday on World Environment Day. Falling annually on June 5, the day carried the theme of “Beat Plastic Pollution” this year.  “All government agencies under the 20 ministries will set examples for others to follow. They will reduce their use of plastic bags and foam containers,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat said yesterday. 

Education reform to make officials accountable The Nation 3rd Jun 2018
SCHOOLS TO BE AT THE HEART OF CHANGES PROPOSED BY PANEL. PINNING accountability will be the key to the efforts of the Independent Committee for Education Reform (ICER) to overhaul Thailand’s educational sector.  Created a year ago, the ICER has only a two-year term. This means it will have to push the pace next year to ensure that it has solidly paved the way for education reforms to materialise.  Among the many elements the ICER seeks to introduce is “accountability”.

Thai ministry to review nod for skilled foreigners The Straits Times 2nd Jun 2018
BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Under pressure from domestic councils representing engineers, architects and accountants, Thailand's Labour Ministry will review a recommendation that the country open up skilled labour markets to engineers, architects and accountants from other countries as required under an Asean agreement signed in 2001. Labour Minister Adul Saengsingkaew said the country's Asean commitment is conditional upon compliance with domestic regulations governing each of the three professions.

Customs

Fears grow over waste imports Bangkok Post 3rd Jun 2018
Plastic waste from 35 countries is being imported into Thailand, said deputy national police chief Wirachai Songmetta after the latest discovery of containers loaded with smuggled rubbish in Chon Buri. The deputy national police was referring to the 58 tonnes of plastic rubbish intercepted at Laem Chabang Port on Wednesday.

Thailand to squeeze Vietnam on car checks Bangkok Post 2nd Jun 2018
Thailand aims to put pressure on Vietnam for its non-tariff barriers on completely built-up (CBU) cars exported from Thailand. The issue was serious enough that Thai exporters suspended their car shipments after Vietnam tightened inspections for all CBUs at seaports since early this year. CBU cars are required to be tested to meet environmental and emissions standards at a Vietnamese laboratory.  

Defense & Security

Thailand developing closer ties with the US The ASEAN Post 4th Jun 2018
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia to have never been colonised. It is perhaps a testament to the strength and resilience of the country in doing away with any foreign interference on its shores. However, Thailand has had interactions with colonial powers before, as can be seen when the United States of America (US) established relations with then Siam in 1818. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which formalised diplomatic relations, was also signed by both countries in 1833. In April this year, Thailand’s Defence Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwon met with US Defence Secretary, Gen. Jim Mattis to discuss about security cooperation. This collaboration deals with the strengthening of cyber and marine security that is matched with a concerted effort to combat terrorism and transnational crimes. The visit took place after Gen. Prawit was sent an invitation by the US Department of Defence. The meeting reinforced strong bilateral relations between both countries, marking 200 years of trust and mutual cooperation. The two countries have also fought shoulder-to-shoulder in every major conflict since World War II.

Economics

Key airports' passengers to hit 200m, says Arkhom Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2018
Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports will have a collective capacity to handle up to 200 million passengers a year when each of their development plans are complete, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said Monday. He made the comments during the opening ceremony for the 22nd annual Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (Canso) Global Air Traffic Management summit.

Portugal drives for rise in Thai investments The Nation 8th Jun 2018
PORTUGAL, a member of European Union, has stepped up its effort to attract Thai companies to invest in digital, renewable energy, tourism, food, and other sectors of its economy as the two countries celebrate their 500th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. Pedro Siza Vieira, the visiting PM's Office minister of Portugal, said major Thai companies such as Minor Group, Indorama and Thai Union Group have already invested substantially in Portugal but newcomers are welcome to take advantage of the Portugese economy growth, which was nearly three per cent last year.

Survey puts Thailand at the top for MICE visitors Bangkok Post 6th Jun 2018
Thailand was named the most preferred Mice destination by respondents eager to return for future business trips, according to a survey conducted in 20 countries. The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) recently assigned Custom Asia Co, a member of the Global Market Research Association, to conduct a market survey of Thailand's brand image as a destination for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. The research, which took place in 20 countries, focused on global Mice professionals and their view of Thailand's Mice brand. There were 40 Mice professionals taking part in the online bulletin board, and 649 answered the online survey.

State-owned banks extends Bt828m for 36 Startup projects The Nation 6th Jun 2018
State banks have extended loans to 36 startup projects, worth a total of Bt828 million in the first five months of this year, said Pornchai Theeravet, financial adviser of Fiscal Policy Office yesterday. He said, as of the end of May this year, the number of registered startups at the National Startup Committee (NSC0 totalled 1,700, an increase of 200 from the end of April.

IMF backs Bank of Thailand's policy stance Bangkok Post 6th Jun 2018
The IMF supports the Bank of Thailand's stated stance, saying monetary easing could help bring inflation back within the targeted range this year as the country's economic recovery gains momentum but struggles to become broad-based. "A number of directors agreed that monetary easing, within a broader expansionary policy mix, could help steer inflation back to target, with macroprudential policy used to address financial stability concerns," the IMF executive board said after its Article IV consultation with Thailand. "A number of other directors considered the current monetary stance to be sufficiently accommodative, and that monetary policy should balance support for inflation against financial stability risks."

NESDB: Room for growth for social enterprises The Nation 3rd Jun 2018
THAILAND’S social enterprises have been facing issues of sustainability and limited ability to have a positive social impact, but they have plenty of room to grow, the National Economic and Social Development Board said. To promote social enterprise is part of the government’s 20-year national strategy, aiming to narrow the income gap between the rich and the poor and protect the environment. The government wants private and social institutions to participate in the development of the country, according to the report released recently by the state’s planning agency. 

Energy

Thailand Biogas and Biomass Market is Expected to Reach Installed Capacity of 4,750 MW by 2022: Ken Research PR Newswire 12th Jun 2018
The market for biogas and biomass is expected to register high growth as it has gained fresh momentum due to enhanced focus of the government. Demand for energy generation from biogas and biomass industry in Thailand will be largely driven by increased concern for environment and increased dependency for energy on neighboring countries. The growth was mainly driven by implementation and amendments of regulatory norms to push the use of biogas and biomass as alternative fuel. Increased demand for energy and rise in awareness about clean energy among the people has promoted the development of biogas and biomass industry. North-Eastern part of Thailand is the biggest market for biogas generating companies accounting for majority of the market in 2017, swiftly followed by Central and Southern provinces. Heavy presence of a number of host industries was the key driver. For biomass North- Eastern part of Thailand was the largest contributors. It was followed by Central Thailand.

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.

Inflation Bogeyman Prompts Fuel Subsidies Across Southeast Asia Bloomberg.com 5th Jun 2018
Oil-fired inflation that threatens to shoot ever higher is prompting governments across Southeast Asia to give some relief to pinched consumers. From fuel subsidies to tax incentives, governments are exploring ways to put a lid on rising prices -- for fear that consumers will revolt at the ballot box, or pull back on spending. Central banks in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have already raised interest rates this year to fight inflation and stabilize currencies as the U.S. tightens monetary policy. Elections loom in Thailand and Indonesia, and a new government in Malaysia is trying to boost support. Vietnam and the Philippines, too, are undertaking measures to control inflation across industries. “Oil prices are 50 percent higher than a year ago and in many countries in the region, core inflation is on the rise,” said Tamara Henderson, an economist at Bloomberg Economics in Singapore. “Consumption may be hampered in 2018 by weaker spending power, although government measures to support disposable incomes may contain the damage.”

Social Media Furor Hits Oil Giant as Fuel Costs Squeeze Thailand Bloomberg.com 30th May 2018
Thailand has joined the global wave of anxiety over climbing energy costs. A social media furor over pump prices erupted in the past week, prompting state-run oil refiner PTT Pcl to defend itself in a Facebook post by Chief Executive Officer Tevin Vongvanich. Last Thursday, the country’s military government rolled out fuel subsides for diesel and cooking gas.

Financial Services

Thailand: Regulator to broaden insurance distribution avenues Asia Insurance Review 7th Jun 2018
The Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) intends to allow financial institutions to sell insurance products via the telesales channel and post offices, aiming to expand insurance penetration in rural provinces.

Thailand to launch Mekong regional fund to reduce China dependence Nikkei Asian Review 4th Jun 2018
Thailand is taking the lead in creating a regional fund with its neighbors, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, to back infrastructure and other development projects and to lessen reliance on Chinese investment. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to propose the idea to the leaders of the five countries in Thailand on June 16 at the 8th summit of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, or ACMECS. This regional organization was initiated by Thailand in 2003.

SME Bank looks to increase public service account share Bangkok Post 1st Jun 2018
The state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank) aims to raise its lending ratio for public service accounts (PSAs) to 52% of its loan portfolio and cut its bad loans to 10% this year, says its chief. The bank is still pursuing its mission to offer low-rate loans to support local SMEs in compliance with the government's policy, said president Mongkol Leelatham. SME Bank raised its loans under PSAs to 35% of its portfolio last year, up from 27% in 2016.

Grab readying financial services in Thailand Bangkok Post 31st May 2018
Grab, Southeast Asia's leading on-demand transport service, plans to expand into e-wallet and micro lending in Thailand to capitalise on the booming cashless society trend. The company is in the process of seeking a Bank of Thailand licence for e-wallet and micro lending as part of the group's strategy to expand in financial services and improve quality of life, said Vee Charununsiri, country head for public affairs. the financial system," he said.

KBank digital lending busts out of the gate Bangkok Post 30th May 2018
Kasikornbank's (KBank) digital lending got off to a good start with 500 million baht worth of unsecured loans being extended to individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the first quarter. The bank, which began digital lending service in the final quarter, loaned 250 million baht evenly to retail and SME customers during the January-March quarter, said senior executive vice-president Wirawat Panthawangkun. In the initial stage, the unsecured digital lending, to which data analytics technology is applied, is only offered to the bank's current customers on a selective basis. The bank extended personal loans to around 10,000 retail customers since the service was rolled out. Under risk-based pricing, some customers are charged an interest rate of 8-9% per year. The ceiling rate under the central bank's rules is 28%.

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.

Food & Agriculture

Firm removed from supplier list after school milk scare Bangkok Post 9th Jun 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on Friday ordered the Milk Board to suspend Thaimilk Dairy Cooperative as a supplier for the National School Milk Programme after a private school in Bangkok complained about milk it had provided. The move came after Patai Udom Suksa School on Tuesday sent a circular to inform parents that the school had ceased giving students government-subsidised milk supplied by the cooperative after finding it was off. The letter later went viral on social media, sparking concern among parents elsewhere fearing their children might fall sick from drinking milk from the same supplier.

Agri-business Sima Asean Thailand underway at Impact The Nation 6th Jun 2018
SIMA Asean Thailand 2018, the Southeast Asian agri-business show, is underway till June 8 at Impact Exhibition and Convention Center, Bangkok. In 2017, Asia Pacific was the largest agricultural region accounting for $6419.05 billion or 54.49 per cent of market share, making Thailand an attractive place for sustainable growth.  “Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry (MOAC) is proud to showcase the King’s philosophy on water and farm management and agricultural innovations. Farmers and agricultural operators will find a comprehensive range of agricultural machinery, technology and farming practices to meet their operational needs,” Teera Wongcharoen, Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) said.

BAAC sets up B1.67bn in loans for withholding paddy Bangkok Post 13th Jun 2018
The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) is offering 1.67 billion baht in soft loans to 10,000 farmers and agricultural institutes to build rice barns and delay paddy sales to stabilise rice prices. The bank will provide soft loans worth up to 150,000 baht per farmer and up to 3 million baht per farm institute, including agricultural cooperatives and community enterprises, said Sarayut Yimyoun, the bank's executive vice-president. The 10-year loan charges 4% interest for the first five years, of which 1% will be paid by borrowers and 3% by the government for the first five years.

Pineapple price bounce seen Bangkok Post 13th Jun 2018
The government believes pineapple prices are set to recover by the end of next month after efforts to connect modern trade, fresh markets and state Thong Fah Pracha Rat low-cost outlets nationwide to help absorb existing supply. Whichai Phochanakij, deputy permanent secretary for commerce, said yesterday the pineapple price slump will ease soon after the government pledged to pick up the pace of moving the fruit to other provincial markets through modern trade, supermarkets, Thong Fah Pracha Rat low-cost shops and famous community markets. The Commerce Ministry also promised to help cooperate with feedmeal factories to help absorb substandard produce.

Free milk leaves sour taste Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2018
A supplier which delivered sour milk to a Bangkok school Monday blamed a machine for "incompletely sealing" the cartons and apologised for the mistake. Chawengsak Sanguanchit, chief executive of Thaimilk Dairy cooperative, said his factory was treating the incident, which caused alarm on social media, as a major lesson and vowed there will be no recurrence. His clarification came after the cooperative was suspended as a supplier for the government's free school milk scheme, pending a probe. "We are recalling all milk cartons supplied to 12 schools in Bangkok and its neighbouring provinces," Mr Chawengsak said.

Thailand, not Vietnam, is exporting 'pho' to the US VnExpress International 6th Jun 2018
Thailand, not Vietnam, is exporting 'pho' to the US Pho, the fragrant flat rice noodles soup served with beef or chicken, has given Vietnamese cuisine an iconic status. But the company making money by exporting an instant version of the soup to the US is based in Thailand. A representative of Charoen Pokphan Foods Plc (CPF) said at a recent meeting with Vietnamese businesses that the company’s Authentic Asian Chicken Pho Noodle Soup is enjoying great sales in the US. The number of restaurants that serve Vietnamese pho in the U.S. reached 8,900 in 2014 and is increasing, the CPF representative said, citing a study by the Institute for Immigration Research.

Health & Life Sciences

National parks, zoos to soon ban plastic bags and containers, says Minister The Nation 7th Jun 2018
The ministry will make their plan public one or two months before stopping people from bringing foam and plastic containers and bags into the areas under their jurisdiction. The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has been assigned to quickly inspect the country’s 154 national parks and seven zoos, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat on Thursday, along with planning the official date for implementing the ban on the use of the disposables. Most plastics used in the parks and zoos were intended for a single use, including plastic bags, cups, spoons and forks, straws, water bottle caps and cigarette filters, along with foam cups and “clamshells”.

Solution to plastic waste lies in burning it for energy, says ministry The Nation 3rd Jun 2018
AUTHORITIES are leaning towards burning plastic waste and getting industry involved in choosing policies as they seek to improve the management system for the persistent pollutant that fouls both land and water environments. Meanwhile, an environmental expert said that changes to consumer behaviour are also needed to make real progress and reduce consumption.

Phyathai 2 pumps B100m into heart centre upgrade Bangkok Post 13th Jun 2018
Phyathai 2 Hospital is pouring 100 million baht into expanding its heart centre to capitalise on high demand for cardiac treatment in local and international markets. Thouantosaporn Suwanjutah, director of Phyathai 2's Heart Center, said the total investment includes 42 million baht for upgrading facilities and medical service training and 58 million for medical equipment and technology.

Work-blinded young mother donates equipment to hospital Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2018
BURI RAM: A 26-year-old woman left blind from years of working at an iron smelter and struggling to support her 15-month-old son on Monday used part of the money she received from sympathetic donors to, in turn, make a donation to the local public hospital. Relatives took Sunisa Moongruayklang to Buri Ram Hospital where she intended to donate 50,000 baht of the 1.47 million baht she received from donors who learned about her miserable life through social media. However, the hospital management told her that it was unable to accept the cash from her because it came from donors who wanted to help her. Instead, it was suggested she buy medical equipment for the hospital such as an electrocardiograph, which it seriously needed. Mrs Sunisa agreed.

High hopes Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2018
Soon a plot of cannabis will be planted in a government field -- for research, of course, and perhaps a long overdue one. It won't be the high point of medical marijuana in Thailand, but it will be a start. Despite confirmation of the medicinal benefits, which led to the legalisation of weed for medical use in several countries, Thailand has held back for many years for fear that the plant -- categorised as a Class 5 illegal drug under the 1979 Narcotic Drugs Act -- would be abused more freely.

Turned off in Asia Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2018
Canada last week became the first G7 country to legalise recreational cannabis use with a Senate vote, and commercial sales are expected to start by the fourth quarter of this year. Australia legalised the plant for medicinal use in 2016 and legal recreational use is now being discussed. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pledged to hold a referendum on pot legalisation before the next general election in 2021. Marijuana laws in many countries in Europe are also relaxed, but Asia is a different story. Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in all Asian countries with harsh penalties in many. You can be also be sentenced to death if you are considered a trafficker in Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. Given the strict rules applied to users and sellers, it's no surprise that Asia is home to seven of the world's 10 most expensive cities to buy marijuana. A gramme costs US$30.55 in Tokyo and $23.21 in Bangkok, compared with less than $10 in most cities in North America.

Welfare scheme budget to drop by 13% Bangkok Post 9th Jun 2018
The budget for the government's welfare and subsidy scheme for low-income earners is expected to decline by 13% to 40 billion baht in the next fiscal year after an additional monthly living allowance paid to recipients who participated in the career training programme comes to an end. This fiscal year budget to fund the welfare scheme will be higher than next year's because an additional living allowance payment provision will lapse, while there will be fewer scheme recipients as some of them will pass away, said a source at the Comptroller-General's Department.

Health fears over e-waste inundation Bangkok Post 8th Jun 2018
An inspection of discarded electronic products and other so-called e-waste was launched in Khong Chai district yesterday as the province is being inundated with over 1,200 tonnes every month, or around 20,000 tonnes a year. Provincial governor Kraisorn Kongchalard instructed Khong Chai district chief Prasoot Hombantheng and local authorities yesterday to inspect how e-waste was being disposed of in the area. The move came after the Public Ministry's Disease Control Department revealed that several provinces in Thailand have been plagued by e-waste problems, particularly in Kalasin where a disproportionate number of residents earn a living from its collection and separation.

Dengue outbreak in lower Northeast Bangkok Post 6th Jun 2018
A dengue outbreak in the lower Northeast has led to 488 infections being recorded since the beginning of this year, most of them children, the Office of Disease Prevention and Control reported on Wednesday. The region 9 office said the 488 infections were reported in four provinces - 233 cases in Nakhon Ratchasima, 56 in Buri Ram, 64 in Chaiyaphum and 135 in Surin. No dengue-related fatalities were reported. Most of the infections were in children aged 10-14, with 5-9 year-olds the next largest group. Local public health officers were conducting health checks and taking steps to combat the spread of the outbreak, particularly in schools.

Protesters push for toxic pesticide ban Bangkok Post 6th Jun 2018
About 150 representatives from 686 civic groups held a rally at Government House to demand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ban two controversial pesticides, and limit the use of a third, by the end of the year. The protesters say that paraquat and chlorpyrifos have been shown to harm the environment and people's health. They also urged the government to strictly monitor the use of glyphosate. The Hazardous Substance Committee last month voted to allow the continued use of the three chemical pesticides under tightened regulations. However, the decision came under fierce criticism from social activists.

Bird flu prevention measures in Thailand Bernama 5th Jun 2018
Thailand maintains disease control measures along the border and high risk areas amid concerns over bird flu infection in neighbouring Cambodia, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported. Citing a report by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Dr Somchuan Ratanamungklanon, Livestock Development Department spokesman, announced all quarantine measures remained effective for poultry import from Cambodia. Livestock officials had collected samples from poultry farms in the 10 kilometre radius from the border for laboratory tests.

Supplement scare prompts inspection of all factories The Nation 4th Jun 2018
All factories manufacturing dietary supplements and cosmetics will be inspected over the next three months, permanent secretary for public health Jessada Chokdamrongsuk announced on Monday. Jessada was leading an inspection of the Pathawin Co cosmetics plant in Phatum Thani’s Sam Khok district, along with the province’s public health chief Nraong Tangtrongpairoj and Wanchai Satayawutthipong, secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration.

Hospitals call off strike over management of personnel Bangkok Post 1st Jun 2018
Groups of medical and health care personnel at state-run hospitals who threatened to stage a protest over two controversial budgetary- and employment-related regulations called off their rally yesterday after the rules were temporarily shelved. The Rural Doctors Society (RDS), which is leading the movement, agreed to cease its planned gathering at the Finance Ministry today after the latter announced it would suspend its ministerial regulation requiring hospitals to "avoid" hiring staff whose salaries are paid for by the hospitals themselves rather than from the state budget.

Finance Ministry postpones new hiring rules Bangkok Post 31st May 2018
The Finance Ministry has postponed new rules involving the hiring of off-budget staff in the wake of an outcry of public health personnel across the country. Permanent secretary for finance Prasong Poontaneat said on Thursday that the ministry had agreed to delay the enforcement of the new rules following a meeting with representatives of the Public Health Ministry. The meeting, chaired by the finance minister, was held following a protest by public health personnel, led by the Rural Doctors Society, against the new regulations. The demonstrators said their operations would be hamstrung by the new rules.

Allianz Ayudhya offers health insurance with BDMS The Nation 31st May 2018
Allianz Ayudhya Assurance has announced its partnership with Bangkok Hospital Group (BDMS), the largest private hospital network in Thailand and Cambodia. Allianz Ayudhya said its “My First Class @BDMS” package offered an exclusive medical service to the customer. The plan covers all medical treatment, including check-ups, vaccination, dental care, maternity and vision up to Bt100 million per year.

ICT

Digital content on the rise Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2018
Though digital content value in Thailand is forecast to grow 12%, the private sector is urging raising competitiveness and promoting local intellectual property. Kris Nalamlieng, managing director of 2Spot Communication Co, a character and licensing studio, said the value of the digital content market in Thailand covering games, animation, characters and e-learning is expected to grow 12% to 26 billion baht this year, up from 24 billion in 2017.

SEC releases crypto details Bangkok Post 9th Jun 2018
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday announced supervision details for market participants involved in the digital asset trade, to come into effect later this month. The details are deemed to be the digital asset decree's organic law designed to regulate digital asset trade and transactions. The market regulator expects about 10 intermediaries to apply for operating licences.

NBTC ordered to set up 5G by 2020 Bangkok Post 7th Jun 2018
Thailand has committed to developing the necessary telecom infrastructure to fully adopt fifth-generation (5G) wireless systems by 2020, with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) responsible for the development. The timeline was announced Wednesday by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak during a keynote speech delivered at Huawei Asia-Pacific Innovation Day 2018. "I have already ordered NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith to prepare for the adoption of 5G," Mr Somkid said.

Banks can sell products via telephone, post offices Bangkok Post 5th Jun 2018
The Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC) is allowing financial institutions to sell insurance products via telesales and post offices, aiming to expand insurance penetration in rural provinces. OIC secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiyagarn said the OIC's board of directors recently approved such permission. Bank staff are still forbidden to engage in insurance sales outside bank branches, he said.

Acing the logistics of e-commerce Bangkok Post 4th Jun 2018
Increasing e-commerce transactions driven by rapidly changing consumer behaviour combined with the entry of giant e-commerce platforms through local partnerships has intensified competition among logistics and parcel delivery services, challenging existing players in the domestic market. Booming e-commerce has also attracted an influx of courier applications and international parcel delivery service providers to tap into the flush local market.

Think tank: Fewer jobs as technology upends sectors Bangkok Post 1st Jun 2018
Despite economic growth in the first quarter, Thailand's employment contracted for a third straight quarter in the period, attributed to technological disruption. The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) reported yesterday that domestic employment fell by 0.2% year-on-year because of a 2.8% decline in the non-agricultural sector.

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.

Infrastructure

U-tapao aerotropolis to open for bids in October Bangkok Post 5th Jun 2018
The terms of reference (ToR) for the U-tapao aerotropolis worth over 200 billion baht will be open for bidding through a public-private partnership (PPP) in October, with the winner expected to be unveiled early next year. The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) meeting on Monday chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha mandated to develop the first phase of the aerotropolis within five years to support a linkage with the high-speed rail connecting three airports -- Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao.

Aviation agency remains wary of airport privatisation Bangkok Post 5th Jun 2018
SYDNEY: Partial or full privatisation is not an ideal way to make airports efficient and cheap for airlines or consumers, despite Asian airports dominating this year's world ranking of the top six, says analysts from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The listing of the top six airports by Skytrax was mentioned at a session on airport privatisation held at the 74th IATA annual general meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Sydney, Australia. Singapore's Changi airport retains its title from last year, followed by Incheon, Tokyo (Haneda), Hong Kong, Doha Hamad and Munich.

Manufacturing

Making garbage count The Nation 7th Jun 2018
NEW ADVANCED waste-to-energy techniques are being touted to the Thai business sector and related government agencies as being more efficient and less environmentally damaging choices to manage the country’s waste. Manufacturers from Japan and Finland see an opportunity to market their technology as Thailand tries to cope with its growing heaps of garbage and citizen opposition to new landfill sites and waste power plant projects.

Heat on Vietnam car barriers rises Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2018
The commerce and industry ministries are escalating demands that the Vietnamese government eliminate non-tariff barriers on cars imported from Thailand, as Thai car shipments to Vietnam have stalled for over six months. Thailand is pressuring Vietnam to eliminate its non-tariff barriers on completely built-up (CBU) cars exported from Thailand. Thai exporters suspended their car shipments after Vietnam tightened inspections for all CBUs at seaports earlier this year. CBU cars are required to undergo tests in a Vietnamese laboratory to ensure they meet environmental and emissions standards.