Thailand Update: July 12, 2018

Thailand Update | July 12, 2018
Authors: Matt Solomon, Ella Duangkaew, Piranat Viriyaprapaikit

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Revenue Department Aims to Become Fully Digital Organization

On July 9, Ekniti Nitithanprapas, the Director-General of the Revenue Department, housed within the Ministry of Finance, outlined the Department’s plan to pursue digitalization of the tax collection systems through the adoption of artificial intelligence. With the current system, the department is not able to completely track down all income tax filings from a combined workforce of 30 million people, and as a result fell short of its tax collection target by 70 billion baht (2.1 billion USD) in the last fiscal year. According to the Director-General, adoption of new technologies like data analytics will make the tax collection system significantly more efficient and comprehensive.

Mr. Ekniti also stated that the first step in the digital transformation of the Department will be inputting withholding tax and individual and corporate taxpayer information into the Department’s internal database to allow data analysis. The second step will be pooling information from outside organizations, such as electricity and tap water consumption and property tax payment. It is unclear what the timeline is for these efforts, nor how the transition may impact current tax collection abilities.

Nonetheless, the Revenue Department’s plan to transform into a fully digital organization indicates that Thai Government is looking to progressively use ICT to increase productivity and accomplish further initiatives. This aligns with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society’s efforts to digitize other Ministries of the Government, particularly key Ministries like Commerce and Energy. Greater digitization of the Government may allow for greater coordination between Ministries, and may help the Government in achieving its overall vision for Thailand 4.0, particularly by starting with the public sector.  

Internal Trade Department Enforces Consumer Products’ Resize

On July 9, Boonyarit Kalayanamit, Director-General of the Internal Trade Department, stated that the government is halting requests from manufacturers to maintain sale prices following product resizing or product quantity reductions. There requests have concerned products such as shampoo, liquid soap, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, toothpaste and detergent.  Mr. Boonyarit stated that those manufacturers guaranteed higher quality after resizing, but after an investigation by Department Officials, it was found that the products’ quality and properties remained the same.

After many complaints made by consumers who claimed the manufacturers had cut the packaging size and quantity of their products, the Commerce Ministry recently placed soap, liquid soap, shampoo, fabric softener, and dishwashing liquid on the state price control list earlier this year. Once placed on the price control list, manufacturers have to secure prior approval before changing the sizes and prices of their products.

While these new practices appear in favor of the consumer, they may introduce an additional burden to product manufacturers in Thailand, which make up a large portion of the economy. These measures may lead to increased fairness and transparency in terms of product sizing and pricing, however it will be important for the Government to also uphold transparency and fairness when determining the pricing system for these products. There have been difficulties for businesses with the pricing systems for pharmaceutical products, and it may be concerning if the same difficulties are apparent with the pricing systems for consumer products as well.

DEPA Pushes for IoT Institute Development.

On July 9, Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, President of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA), announced that the Internet of Things (IOT) Institute will start construction in the Eastern Economic Corridor’s Digital Park Thailand in October this year, and is slated to be complete by 2020. According to the DEPA President, the Thai government has a growing interest in IoT as it can serve as a cross-cutting technology that enhances productivity while reducing the cost of business operations. With the Master Plan of Digital Park Thailand commencing later this year, IoT is expected to attract investment in data servers, new digital businesses, and R&D to Thailand.

DEPA has recently been given 3.9 billion Baht (117 million USD) for the IoT Institute's five-year budget through the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. With this budget, the IoT Institute construction will be divided into two phases: the first is for office and residential buildings; the second is reserved for companies interested in investment for closed labs to develop innovative technology. According to a survey by Asia IoT Business Platform (AIBP) in 2017, 89% of Thai enterprises were either exploring or implementing IoT solutions to boost their productivity and innovation, with 42% at the fact-finding stage, 25% having explored the technology, and 22% already having implemented and/or benefited from IoT solutions.

With the IoT Institute, DEPA hopes to attract both multi-national corporations and local enterprises to use the space to collaborate and exchange knowledge. In general, the Digital Park Thailand is meant to attract greater investment from digital companies in the Eastern Economic Corridor, and the IoT Institute is the first critical step in achieving the ambitious vision for this area. DEPA’s announcement provides the first clear milestone for the development of the Digital Park, which may boost investor confidence in the completion of the project, and may attract further investment. Attracting additional digital investment is a key priority for Thailand, particularly under the Thailand 4.0 vision, and completion of the IoT Institute, as well as the rest of Digital Park Thailand, may greatly support these goals. 

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Thailand joins EU efforts for WTO action on global system
Cambodia resumes train service to Thai border
Indonesia and Thailand Set to Discuss Cooperation on Trade, Investment and Tourism
Taiwan extends visa-free entry for Philippines, Thailand, Brunei
RI, Thailand considering Malaysia’s free trade ideas
Thailand and Myanmar to jointly boost border trade


National Affairs
NLA approves 5 new Election Commissioners, rejects 2
About 1,000 migrants sent home from Thailand
NLA passes amended Sangha bill
Media must self-regulate, says Meechai
All 12 boys, coach brought out
Boys and coach found alive in cave


Customs
400 e-waste containers abandoned at Thailand ports
Customs to speed up process for Thailand-bound exports
Thailand, Singapore forge first mutual recognition of AEOs between ASEAN members
Asian states urged to sign treaty to avoid ‘tidal wave’ of foreign trash
ASEAN port managers uneasy over plastic scrap
The most trusted source of Philippine business news and analysis

Defense & Security
DoD Personnel Assist in Thai Cave Rescue Operations
New Drones Highlight Thailand-Israel Defense Cooperation

Economics
Central bank taking action on rapid baht moves
‘Mine has been most hard-working post-coup government in Thai history,’ PM claims
Windfall tax on properties clears Cabinet
Govt collects more revenues than expected
Industry Ministry earmarks funds from 2019 for SME growth
MPC outlines policy hike conditions
WEF and government to cooperate
Export hopes high despite trade rows

Energy
BT11.37 BN SET ASIDE TO SUBSIDISE POWER PRICES
Power plan makeover to encourage small traders
Oregon companies wade into Thai electric vehicle market
Basic Energy buys stake in 2 Thai EPC firms working on 220 MW Myanmar PV project

Financial Services
Revenue Department eyes AI upgrade
Thailand leads in crypto
Thailand’s E-Commerce Landscape: Trends and Opportunities
Limited FX License for Securities Companies in Thailand​
An opportunity rising from e-commerce

Food & Agriculture
B34.5bn in rice aid measures approved
Fishing for renewed respect
Fears of Chinese putting squeeze on durian market
Farm incomes on the rise

Health & Life Sciences
Act now on ageing society before it's too late
Govt mulls more carers for the elderly
How cities are keeping people cool

ICT
Mining big data gives edge to Thai firms in era of digital disruption
Online to offline
Thailand’s Asian Institute of Technology develops a method to produce electricity from leftover waste | OpenGovAsia
Asean pools knowledge to fight cybercrime
Depa pushes for IoT infrastructure
Cashless train tickets launched at major stations
Paving the way to a smart city via data and digital technology 

Infrastructure
ADB loan to boost highways
Chinese firms keen on high-speed train project linking airports
Two French firms keen on high-speed rail
Thai cabinet backs new tax on property near infrastructure projects
Bids sought for US$5.5b Thailand to China high-speed rail
Thailand committed to addressing infrastructure challenges
Chinese infrastructure firms make foray into Thai market
Thai developer Amata eyes Myanmar, Laos for Chinese factories

Manufacturing
Uttama says no to EV sales subsidies
No quarter for product size cutters

Travel & Tourism
Phuket Hotels Association teams up with US Embassy to help eliminate single-use plastics

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Thailand joins EU efforts for WTO action on global system Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
Thailand has teamed up with the EU to push the World Trade Organization (WTO) into greater engagement for handling protectionist and retaliatory issues to curb a possible trade war. Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said the latest meeting of the Thai-EU trade and investment working panel held on July 2-3 in Bangkok found both sides agreeing to ask the WTO to play a more active role in promoting the multilateral trade system. Both will call on WTO members to work together to maintain the validity and authority of the organisation, strengthen its policy review and negotiation functions, as well as the dispute settlement mechanism, and stay away from the use of unilateral trade measures.

Indonesia and Thailand Set to Discuss Cooperation on Trade, Investment and Tourism Jakarta Globe 30th Jun 2018
The ninth meeting of the Indonesia-Thailand Joint Commission will take place in Yogyakarta next week when the two countries will discuss ways to improve cooperation on trade, investment and tourism. (Reuters Photo/Athit Perawongmetha) Indonesia and Thailand Set to Discuss Cooperation on Trade, Investment and Tourism

Taiwan extends visa-free entry for Philippines, Thailand, Brunei ABS-CBN News 27th Jun 2018
The trial visa-free travel program for visitors to Taiwan from the Philippines, Thailand and Brunei will be extended for another year, local media reported Wednesday.

Cambodia resumes train service to Thai border Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia conducted a trial run of a passenger train service from Phnom Penh to the Thai border on Wednesday. "From now on, passengers can travel by train from Phnom Penh to Poipet city for the first time in 45 years," said Sun Chanthol, minister of public works and transportation, referring to a Cambodian border town.

RI, Thailand considering Malaysia’s free trade ideas The Jakarta Post 9th Jul 2018
As Indonesia and Thailand are both assuming strategic international roles next year, they are saying they would first look into Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal for a regional free trade zone.

Thailand and Myanmar to jointly boost border trade Pattaya Mail 6th Jul 2018
Thailand’s Vice Minister for Commerce, Dr. Sakon Varanyuwatana, says the Thailand-Myanmar Border Economic Partnership Conference will boost border trade and relations between the two countries. The conference was held near Thailand’s Ban Nam Pu Ron and Myanmar’s Htee Kee border checkpoints. It was aimed at increasing trade activity in border areas by promoting border development and cooperation between Thailand and Myanmar. In attendance were Dr. Lei Maw, Chief Minister of Myanmar’s Taninthargyi Region, as well as representatives from public and private organizations in Kanchanaburi province. Small meetings on public-private cooperation, business matching and agreement-signing ceremonies were also being held on the sidelines of the event. Dr. Lei Maw said Myanmar’s economy is experiencing rapid growth and, therefore, the country must import construction materials, household commodities and industrial chemicals to accommodate rising domestic demand. She invited Thai businesses to build more hotels, factories and mines to accommodate the potential growth on the border, especially once road construction connecting Dawei Port and Ban Nam Pu Ron Checkpoint is completed. She also expects more investment and travel by citizens of both countries in the near future.

National Affairs

NLA approves 5 new Election Commissioners, rejects 2 Bangkok Post 12th Jul 2018
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Thursday selected five new members to sit on the Election Commission (EC) and they will take up their duties after royal endorsement. Legislators voted to approve Santhat Siriananpaiboon, Ittiporn Boonprakong, Thawatchai Pakorn, Chatchai Chanpraisri and Pakorn Mahannop from the seven-candidate list. The five each received between 178 and 186 vote, far more than enough as they needed only 123, or half of the assembly.

About 1,000 migrants sent home from Thailand The Nation 10th Jul 2018
About 1,000 Cambodians allegedly working illegally in Thailand were arrested and deported after the Thai government declared an end to a grace period for labourers, a member of the official receiving committee at the border in Poipet said Monday. Sin Nam Yong, deputy director of the coordination committee for worker receptions from Thailand via Poipet, told The Post on Monday that on June 30, the Thai government declared an end to the documentation period for migrant workers.

All 12 boys, coach brought out Bangkok Post 10th Jul 2018
MAE SAI, Chiang Rai: All 12 boys and their football coach trapped in Tham Luang cave for 17 days have been safely rescued. “The 9th Wild Boar was out of the cave at 4.06pm,” the Thai Navy Seals posted on Facebook on Tuesday, the projected final day of the mission. A source said the 10th came out shortly, followed by the 11th and 12th at 6.25pm. Their 25-year-old football coach was the last to come out.

NLA passes amended Sangha bill Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
An amendment bill aimed at extensively curbing the powerful Sangha Council has cruised through the National Legislative Assembly without a single vote against it. NLA members voted 217 to zero to pass the legislation, with four abstentions, on Thursday. Once published in the Royal Gazette, the bill will replace the present Sangha Act that currently gives the council full control of monastic affairs and the selection of its members.

Media must self-regulate, says Meechai Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) chairman Meechai Ruchupan on Wednesday stressed the need for media outlets and organisations to push for a law to promote and enforce self-regulation. Delivering a keynote speech to mark the 21st anniversary of the Press Council of Thailand, Mr Meechai said the time was right for the media to roll out a legal mechanism that would enhance self-regulation without compromising press freedom.

Boys and coach found alive in cave Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2018
The 12 missing boys and their football coach have been found in Tham Luang by a British cave explorer - all alive and apparently safe. A dramatic video stream from the Pattaya Beach area deep inside the cave indicated an English cave explorer was the first to reach the boys. The group, mostly seated and with baggy football shirts pulled over their knees, asked for food and to leave the cave immediately, according to the video, which was shared on the official Facebook page of the Royal Thai Navy Seals.


Customs

400 e-waste containers abandoned at Thailand ports Inquirer 27th Jun 2018
About 400 cargo containers full of electronic waste, plastic scrap and discarded metal have been left unclaimed at Thailand’s two major ports as authorities crack down on illegal e-waste handling. If they are not claimed within the next 15 days, the Customs Department will either dispose of them or send them back to their point of departure.

Customs to speed up process for Thailand-bound exports Singapore Business Review 2nd Jul 2018
Thailand's Singapore-bound exports will likewise go through the faster process. Singapore and Thailand signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) to speed up the clearance of goods from companies certified by the Singapore customs to have robust security practices, an announcement revealed. The said deal is the MRA of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programmes between two ASEAN countries. Signed as an initiative under the Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relations programme (STEER), the MRA is set to deepen economic collaboration and facilitate bilateral trade growth between Singapore and Thailand.

Thailand, Singapore forge first mutual recognition of AEOs between ASEAN members Asia Customs & Trade 2nd Jul 2018
Singapore and Thailand have signed a mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) recognizing the compatibility of their Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programs, the first such agreement to be signed between two Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. Under the MRA signed late last month by Singapore Customs and the Customs Department of Thailand, companies certified by Singapore Customs as having robust security practices will enjoy faster clearance for their goods exported to Thailand.

Asian states urged to sign treaty to avoid ‘tidal wave’ of foreign trash Asia Times 28th Jun 2018
Authorities in Thailand have been scrambling to contain a waste scandal after discovering a vast amount of plastic and electronic waste has been imported this year – often illegally – by factories involved in recycling. Thais have been horrified to learn in recent weeks that hundreds of thousands of tons of electronic waste has been shipped into the country since China’s decision to stop taking waste from wealthy countries at the end of last year.

ASEAN port managers uneasy over plastic scrap Recycling Today Global 28th Jun 2018
Plastic scrap shipments diverted to the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region have clogged container ports and caused concern among customs officials, according to a recycling trade association market report. Steve Wong, who heads the China Scrap Plastic Association (CSPA) and serves on two committees for the Brussels-based Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), says “major import problems” have surfaced in May and June in ASEAN nations including Thailand and Vietnam.

The most trusted source of Philippine business news and analysis Business World 27th Jun 2018
DITP Director-General Chantira Jimreivat Vivatrat, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO and Chair of ICC Thailand Somyod Tangmeelarp, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to bolster cooperation and information exchange between DITP and ICC on issues relating to trade and investment and to promote tools to facilitate international trade in areas such as commercial trade transactions, trade finance, sustainability, corporate responsibility, e-commerce, and SME development. Such tools include ICC Incoterms® Rules, ICC Model Contracts, ATA Carnet international customs documents and the ICC Digital Library.

Defense & Security

DoD Personnel Assist in Thai Cave Rescue Operations U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE 10th Jul 2018
Defense Department personnel continue to assist in the rescue operations in Thailand to evacuate the remaining four boys and their coach from a flooded cave system, the director of defense press operations said today. The DoD effort consists of 42 deployed military personnel and one member from the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group Thailand, Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

New Drones Highlight Thailand-Israel Defense Cooperation The Diplomat 3rd Jul 2018
Over the course of the past week, reports surfaced that Thailand has taken delivery of four new drones from Israel. Though few specifics have been disclosed, the development nonetheless sheds light on the Thai military’s continued attempts to advance the country’s capabilities in this area as well as the deepening defense relationship between the two countries. This week, in another such development, reports surfaced that the Royal Thai Army (RTA) had taken delivery of four Hermes 450 long-endurance tactical unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel’s Elbit Systems. According to IHS Jane’s, the procurement of the Hermes 450 UAVs, which are operated by the 21st Aviation Battalion at the Army Aviation Center at Lopburi, along with an associated ground-control system and remote video terminals, was valued at around $30 million and was finalized in 2017 following demonstrations and trials.

Economics

Central bank taking action on rapid baht moves Bangkok Post 12th Jul 2018
The Bank of Thailand has taken action on rapid moves in the baht, the governor said on Thursday, as the currency weakened to nine-month lows against the US dollar. It is the central bank's policy to smooth out any excessive moves in the baht, governor Veerathai Santiprabhob told reporters.

‘Mine has been most hard-working post-coup government in Thai history,’ PM claims The Nation 10th Jul 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday claimed that his had been the most hard-working post-coup government in Thai history, and one that had achieved a lot for the country. While speaking with a group of veteran actors and singers who had called on him at Government House, General Prayut also denied he was trying to retain power, although he did not reject speculation over his perceived political ambition to return as government head after the next general election.

Windfall tax on properties clears Cabinet The Nation 10th Jul 2018
The measure applies to those properties that have gained in value as a result of their proximity to government transport projects and, under the draft bill, will be subject to tax at a rate of no more than 5 per cent of the amount by which they have appreciated.

Govt collects more revenues than expected The Nation 9th Jul 2018
State enterprises funnel led Bt130.6 billion in income for the first nine months of fiscal 2017-2018 to the Finance Ministry – 23.87 per cent more than predicted – the State Enterprises Policy Office reported on Monday. The ministry had targeted Bt105.43 billion for the nine months beginning last October, director-general Prapas Klong-led said. The five agencies forwarding the most money were the Government Lottery Office, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, PTT Plc, Government Savings Bank and Provincial Electricity Authority.

Industry Ministry earmarks funds from 2019 for SME growth Bangkok Post 6th Jul 2018
The Industry Ministry is planning to allocate part of its 2019 budget starting in October as financial tools for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to expand their businesses at home and abroad. Industry minister Uttama Savanayana said the ministry is preparing the new budget, which will include funding injections for SMEs and startups next year.

MPC outlines policy hike conditions Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
The Bank of Thailand's rate-setting panel will start tightening monetary policy if economic expansion continues and inflation stays within its target range, said the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in its first extensive discussion on the conditions and timing for a rate hike in recent years. "The committee discussed conditions and appropriate timing to begin normalising monetary policy, saying if economic expansion continues and inflation moves more firmly within the target range, the need for an accommodative monetary policy will fall, while the need for a rate hike to build policy space will increase," said the minutes of the MPC meeting on June 20.

WEF and government to cooperate Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2018
The World Economic Forum (WEF), an international organisation for public-private Cooperation, has agreed to team up with a Thai government unit to upgrade Thailand's competitiveness and industrial reforms. Justin Wood, Asia-Pacific head of the WEF, who met yesterday with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, said WEF and the Thai government will conduct a programme to enhance Thai competitiveness and economic growth in the long run.

Export hopes high despite trade rows The Nation 3rd Jul 2018
THE spectre of trade protectionism has failed to dent optimism for sustained strength in exports in the year’s second half, say business leaders, even though some concede that certain types of products could be caught into the fallout of an escalating conflict. In keeping with this balanced view, the business figures say they are bullish on the Thai economy despite the unfolding moves in the trade conflict. They believe that trade tensions between the US, China, Europe, Canada, Mexico and India will have a only a limited impact on Thai exports.

Energy

BT11.37 BN SET ASIDE TO SUBSIDISE POWER PRICES The Nation 5th Jul 2018
Veeraphol Chirapraditkul, an ERC spokesman and member, said that of the ERC’s retained fund of Bt11.36 billion, about Bt8.475 billion is expected to be used to manage electricity costs from January to April and the remainder will be held over for the next period. “The ERC has not yet assessed the outlook for electricity cost throughout 2019. This will be reviewed period by period,” Veeraphol said.

Power plan makeover to encourage small traders Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
The revised national power development plan (PDP) is set to add energy blockchain technology to the master plan to allow very small power producers (VSPPs) to serve as peer-to-peer electricity traders, says the Energy Ministry. The PDP draft is scheduled to be finished by September, which will create a blueprint for Thailand's energy outlook for the next two decades. The master plan can be revised any year, depending on economic sentiment. Minister Siri Jirapongphan said the revised PDP will open the energy sector up to new disruptive technologies that can enhance efficiency and secure the power generation system.

Oregon companies wade into Thai electric vehicle market Oregon Business 29th Jun 2018
Rows of rainbow-colored, chrome-plated tricycle taxis, called tuk tuks for their distinctive engine sound, line the streets of Bangkok. But the tuk tuks of the future might make no sound at all. Thailand’s ruling junta seeks to electrify tuk tuks, along with buses and cars, in a nationwide push toward electric vehicles. The government seeks to curb the country’s dependence on imported oil while taking advantage of its numerous solar facilities. This momentum creates niche opportunities for some Oregon companies, but the road ahead lies pockmarked with economic and political potholes.

Basic Energy buys stake in 2 Thai EPC firms working on 220 MW Myanmar PV project pv magazine International 28th Jun 2018
The Myanmar Government aims to increase electricity production in the country to 30,000 MW by 2030. Philippine-listed energy developer Basic Energy has purchased a 15% stake in two Thai EPC contractors, Vintage EPC Co. Ltd (VEPC) and VTE International Construction Co. Ltd (Vinter), based on an agreement inked with their parent company, Meta Corporation, thus marking its foray into solar energy overseas. VEPC and Vinter are acting as the EPC supplier and construction service contractor, respectively, for a 220 MW solar power plant located in Minbu, in Myanmar’s Magway region. The two subsidiaries of renewable energy project developer, Meta Corporation, formerly known as Vintage Engineering Public Company Limited (VTE), were awarded EPC contracts for the first phase of the US$275 million project by Thai renewable developer, Green Earth Power (GEP) in May 2016.

Financial Services

Revenue Department eyes AI upgrade Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2018
The Revenue Department has outlined its plan to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) in tax management to transform the tax-collecting agency into a fully digital organisation and improve efficiency. The department plans to input withholding tax, individual and corporate taxpayer information into its internal database this year to allow data analysis, the first step in its digital transformation, said director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas.

Thailand leads in crypto The ASEAN Post 9th Jul 2018
Securities, or not securities. That is the crypto question. Except in Thailand. While regulators around the world have grappled with the issue of what category digital currencies and assets fall into, Thailand has skipped the debate altogether.

Thailand’s E-Commerce Landscape: Trends and Opportunities ASEAN Business News 6th Jul 2018
The second largest economy of Southeast Asia, Thailand has one of the region’s highest number of internet users. There are approximately 57 million internet users in the country that are well-versed in the use of digital technologies, mobile, and e-commerce.

Limited FX License for Securities Companies in Thailand​ Lexology 30th Jun 2018
Securities companies have been prohibited from buying, selling, or exchanging foreign currency directly with its clients as they were not permitted to hold foreign exchange licenses. This is despite the fact that securities companies can act as investment agents for Thai clients for making investment in foreign currency-denominated securities and derivatives ("FCY Products").

An opportunity rising from e-commerce The Edge Markets 27th Jun 2018
Just over a decade ago, e-commerce was almost an alien concept in this part of the world. Today, however, the sector is booming in Southeast Asia. As digital users grow, so will e-commerce consumers. According to BMI Research calculations, Southeast Asia’s online shopping market in six of its largest economies — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — is set to rake in an estimated US$64.8 billion (RM257.94 billion) in 2021, a giant leap from US$37.7 billion recorded in 2017.

Food & Agriculture

B34.5bn in rice aid measures approved Bangkok Post 12th Jul 2018
The National Rice Policy and Management Committee Wednesday approved rice aid measures worth 34.5 billion baht for the 2018/2019 crop year starting in November. Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, the commerce permanent secretary, said the rice measures, mostly identical to those offered for production in the 2017/2018 crop year, cover three projects: a loan scheme for farmers who agree to delay their paddy sales and a grant for harvesting and price-quality improvement costs; a loan scheme for agricultural cooperatives to gather rice and add value to the grain; and the 3% interest rate subsidy programme for rice traders who agree to keep their stocks.

Fishing for renewed respect Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2018
Beaten down by back-breaking labour and deprived of their liberty, weary migrant workers are closer to emancipation from sea slavery with the government's increased efforts to prosecute and convict human traffickers. While some might call it a knee-jerk reaction, the military-led government has increased law enforcement efforts to improve Thailand's tarnished image as a human trafficking destination following reports in 2014 on rampant illegal fishing and reliance on trafficked workers from neighbouring countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia.

Fears of Chinese putting squeeze on durian market Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
China's growing thirst for the king of fruits has built Thai durian farmers' wealth in recent years, but the dominance of Chinese traders has made dealers nervous about the possibility of price collusion. Dealers seeking durian from farmers are often Thai, but some Chinese traders are using them as nominees, aiming to control purchase orders, as well as set prices and the harvest time, said Thongchai Kunnam, a 58-year-old durian exporter in Chanthaburi province.

Farm incomes on the rise Bangkok Post 28th Jun 2018
Farm incomes rose 9% year-on-year in May, the highest in 13 months, and grassroots consumption is likely to rise in the future, according to the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO). Pornchai Thiraveja, economic and monetary adviser, said on Thursday that farm incomes had dropped by 4.7% in the first quarter this year then reversed direction and increased in April by 7.8% and then 9% last month. Consequently farm incomes for the period January to May were down by only 0.3%. Surveys found that the price of Hom Mali fragrant rice rose from 15,000 baht in April to 18,000 baht a tonne in May. The price of oil palm nuts went up from 2.81 baht to 3.1 baht per kilogramme and natural rubber from 43.22 baht to 45.68 baht per kilogramme last month.

Health & Life Sciences

Act now on ageing society before it's too late Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
In the next three years, people aged over 60 in Thailand will account for 13.8 million, or 20% of the population. This means in a group of five, there will be one elderly person. In demographic science, a country where 20% of its people are aged 60 years old or higher is categorised as an ageing society. The problem is aggravated as a result of a low birth rate that causes the number of people of working age to drop sharply.

Govt mulls more carers for the elderly Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
The government is considering investing two billion baht a year in hiring certified carers to provide basic care to the estimated 300,000 bedridden patients living at home nationwide. A proposal to amend relevant laws -- to allow the local administrative organisations to spend state budget they receive for employing a sufficient number of carers to work in their communities -- was discussed last Thursday, PM's Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool said Wednesday.

How cities are keeping people cool Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
The frequent occurrence of extreme climate conditions is threatening the life of urban dwellers. Currently, more than 50% of the world's population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will increase to 70%. With rapid growth of urbanisation comes rapid changes in the landscape that affect the climate and air quality in urban areas, leading to higher temperatures -- or "heat islands" -- higher emissions, and more ambient pollution. During the summer, the higher urban temperatures may lead to more frequent health problems, and actually increase the mortality rate among the most vulnerable urban dwellers including elders and less economically fortunate, for example.

ICT

Mining big data gives edge to Thai firms in era of digital disruption The Nation 8th Jul 2018
 Given the digital disruption of business now underway, most Thai firms are revising their business model by use big data to manage their business to serve their customers’ demands, according to experts. “We’ve seen significantly rising demand in the past two to three years from our clients across various industries to use data to enhance their customer experiences,” said Nontawat Poomchusri, country managing director of Accenture in Thailand. “This is not limited to only online channels like apps, but also traditional channels [and the integration between online and traditional channels].” 

Online to offline Bangkok Post 2nd Jul 2018
Technology and digital disruption are compelling companies of all sizes in all industries to adapt and innovate. The world has seen how even multinationals that once enjoyed enviable success can wither or perish if they fail to keep up -- from Eastman Kodak to Blockbuster or even technology companies such as Yahoo, Nokia and Motorola.

Thailand’s Asian Institute of Technology develops a method to produce electricity from leftover waste | OpenGovAsia Open Gov Asia 2nd Jul 2018
The electricity generated by the Anaerobic Digester with Centralised Monitoring System from leftover waste can power about 1,000 15W LED lightbulbs for 12 hours. An announcement from the Bangkok Post highlighted the project developed by researchers from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in cooperation with the Loughborough University that is able to produce power from leftover waste.

Asean pools knowledge to fight cybercrime The Nation 27th Jun 2018
THE DEPARTMENT of Special Investigation (DSI) on Wednesday hosted a Bangkok seminar for representatives of 10 Asean countries to discuss and exchange ideas on ways to suppress cybercrime. Pinpointing a serious emerging threat in the Internet era, Permanent Secretary for Justice Wisit Wisitsoraat urged all countries to be on alert for digital crimes, which had hit Asean countries recently with serious consequences.

Depa pushes for IoT infrastructure Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2018
The government can influence the development of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in Thailand by supporting it and creating new value, says the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa).

Cashless train tickets launched at major stations Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has introduced QR Code as an alternative payment method for passengers. Kasikornbank code readers were installed in 56 main stations across the country, 14 of them in Greater Bangkok, including Hua Lampho

Paving the way to a smart city via data and digital technology  The Nation 5th Jul 2018
Today the region’s urban areas are home to one-third of its total population but generate more than two-thirds of the region’s GDP, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), in collaboration with the Centre for Liveable Cities in Singapore.  Urbanisation is fueling economic growth, but the breakneck pace has left many cities struggling to provide adequate housing, infrastructure, and services to meet the needs of a surging population. While the urban challenges across Southeast Asia have been growing in scope, new technologies that could tackle some of these issues have reached maturity. 

Infrastructure

ADB loan to boost highways The Nation 4th Jul 2018
The loan agreement was signed yesterday by Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong and the ADB’s director general for Southeast Asia, Ramesh Subramaniam.  “Transport infrastructure is an important driver of growth for Thailand’s economy,” said Subramaniam. “Improving the country’s road network will boost economic growth and improve people’s access to economic opportunities and social services. It will also help Thailand become a trading and economic hub in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).”

Chinese firms keen on high-speed train project linking airports Bangkok Post 2nd Jul 2018
At least two Chinese companies have bought bidding documents for a high-speed train construction project to connect three key airports, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) said on Monday. The railway agency said China Railway Group Ltd and China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd had bought documents detailing the project, which is part of the Eastern Economic Corridor. They are among the 14 firms, mainly Thai companies, showing interest in joining the bid for the project. The winner will be announced on Nov 13.

Two French firms keen on high-speed rail Bangkok Post 27th Jun 2018
Two French companies, Transdev Group and SNCF Group, are in talks with Charoen Pokphand Group to set up a business partnership for the high-speed railway connecting three airports, including management of the Airport Rail Link, a combined project worth of 224 billion baht, says the Industry Ministry. Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana talked to media yesterday about the Thai delegation's trip to Britain and France. Transdev, an international private operator of public transport, and SNCF, a state-owned railway, met with the government's team in Paris last week to express their intentions regarding the flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.

Thai cabinet backs new tax on property near infrastructure projects Reuters 10th Jul 2018
Thailand’s cabinet has approved a new tax on property that benefits from being located near infrastructure projects such as airports, rail links and expressways, a government official said on Tuesday.

Bids sought for US$5.5b Thailand to China high-speed rail The Business Times 2nd Jul 2018
Thailand will seek bids in the fourth-quarter for a US$5.5 billion high-speed rail project that's part of a wider plan for a train network to China. The bidder will build the first half of the network in Thailand, Minister of Transport Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said in an interview Thursday. His ministry expects to receive detailed designs this month from China, its partner for the project, before approving them in August to kick start the bidding process for the 253-kilometer (157-mile) route.

Thailand committed to addressing infrastructure challenges airlines.iata.org 2nd Jul 2018
Ministry of Transport-IATA Joint Aviation Industry Stakeholders Meeting discussed how to best equip Thailand for anticipated aviation sector boom. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for an aviation infrastructure masterplan to take priority in Thailand, following a meeting between government and aviation officials in Bangkok. Chaired by Thailand’s Minister for Transport Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, the Joint Aviation Industry Stakeholders Meeting with IATA on June 14 discussed how to strengthen industry engagement to maximize the benefits of the anticipated growth of Thailand’s aviation sector.

Chinese infrastructure firms make foray into Thai market Global Times 2nd Jul 2018
As the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative enters its 5th year, it is making steady progress in Thailand where Chinese infrastructure companies navigate in the local market to learn how to play the game in accordance with local rules, grow with local partners and win recognition and market shares in the process.

Thai developer Amata eyes Myanmar, Laos for Chinese factories Nikkei Asian Review 1st Jul 2018
Amata Corp., Thailand's largest industrial estate developer, says it aims to develop more industrial estates in neighboring countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, especially Laos and Myanmar, to tap into benefits from China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.


Manufacturing

Uttama says no to EV sales subsidies Bangkok Post 12th Jul 2018
Financial subsidies for electric vehicles (EVs) are not necessary for Thai buyers and the government is confident an excise tax discount is enough to stimulate EV purchases here, says Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana. "Each country decides on its own subsidies for EVs, but an excise tax discount is sufficient for the local car market now," he said.

No quarter for product size cutters Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2018
The government has put the brakes on manufacturers' requests to adjust the size of their products and still sell them at the same prices. Boonyarit Kalayanamit, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said manufacturers of consumer products, particularly shampoo, liquid soap, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, toothpaste and detergent, have filed requests with the department for permission to reduce the size of packaging and product quantity but still sell the item at the same price, citing higher quality.

Travel & Tourism

Phuket Hotels Association teams up with US Embassy to help eliminate single-use plastics The Nation 10th Jul 2018
The Phuket Hotels Association has joined forces with the US Embassy Science Fellowship (ESF) Programme to tackle the critical issue of waste management in Phuket, with the aim of eliminating single-use plastics at the island’s hotels. Founded in 2001, the ESF Programme promotes bilateral cooperation in the fields of science and technology. Since it was launched, nearly 300 scientists have provided their expertise to projects around the world.