Thailand Update: August 9, 2018

Thailand Update | August 9, 2018
Authors: Matt Solomon, Ella Duangkaew, Piranat Viriyaprapaikit
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

August 23-24, 2018: Laos Business Mission: The Council’s 2018 Laos Business Mission will take place from August 23-24. Meetings are confirmed for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, the Minister of Health, the Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, the Vice Minister of Post and Telecommunications, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Lao PDR, and the U.S. Ambassador to Laos. The deadline for registration (August 9) has passed, but if companies are still interested in participating please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org.

August 30-31, 2018: AEM Business Mission: The Council is now registering executives for its 2018 Mission to the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting, taking place from Thursday, August 30 to Saturday, September 1 in Singapore. The AEM Mission will be built around our annual engagement alongside USTR with the 10 ASEAN Economic Ministers, scheduled to take place the morning of Saturday, September 1. Please contact Matt Solomon at msolomon@usasean.org with any questions.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Southern Economic Corridor Commencing

On August 2, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak announced that the National Economic and Social Development Board is currently formulating a development plan for the Southern Economic Corridor. The development scheme will include a high-speed rail network, a double-track rail system, road construction, and an upgrade of Ranong port. With the plan scheduled to go before the Cabinet meeting in Chumphon on August 20-21, the government believes that the Southern region has investment potential for utilizing local raw materials, such as rubber and palm to create value-added products, and the developing a tourism cluster.

Dr. Somkid also stated that the Bangkok-Hua Hin high-speed rail route will be expanded to Chumphon and Surat Thani, two of the wealthiest provinces in the southern region of Thailand. With the bidding period scheduled for late 2018, the Ministry of Transport has already begun a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment for the expansion project. The government believes that the railway will help develop the Southern Economic Corridor to spur economic growth in the southern provinces. There are also plans to develop a high-speed rail network that links the northern high-speed rail route, the Eastern Economic Corridor, the Thai Riviera projects, and other southern areas.

The development of the rail network, Chumphon, Surat Thani, and Ranong port all link to the “Royal Coast” tourism campaign in the western coast provinces to boost income and economic growth in the area. The Cabinet has also approved, in principle, 45 projects worth 170 million baht (USD$ 5 million) for the fiscal 2019 budget, all in support of community tourism. The commencement of these numerous investment projects in multiple areas demonstrates Thailand’s commitment to cultivating economic growth in the outer provinces. The economic disparity between Bangkok and the provinces is a major concern for the Thai government, and will have growing importance on the economic policy agenda, particularly in the lead-up to 2019 elections.

Election Commission Appoints New Chairman

On August 1, Thailand’s Election Commission (EC) selected Ittiporn Boonpracong as its new Chairman. Only five of the legally required seven election commissioners are currently in place, but the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) permitted the selection meeting. According the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) spokesman Jate Siratharanont, the selection of the new EC chairman is critical to determine who will supervise the highly-anticipated elections, which are currently planned for early 2019.

Mr. Ittiporn is a former Treaties and Legal Affairs Department Chief under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the former Ambassador of Thailand to Kenya and to the Netherlands. In addition to the Election Commission’s selection, Mr. Ittiporn also gained the most votes (186) from the NLA at the endorsement stage three weeks ago.

Moving forward, the Secretary-General of the NLA will notify NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai so he can submit the name of the new Chairman and receive royal endorsement. After the royal endorsement, the NLA is expected to proceed with the selection of the two remaining election commissioners.

The rapid selection of a new EC chairman demonstrates the government’s dedication to proceeding along the election roadmap in a timely manner to ensure elections take place as promised in early 2019. There is some cause for concern that the selection took place before all seven commissioners have been selected and installed, though the NLA and CDC have insisted that the selection is legitimate under the new organic law governing the electoral agency. It will be important going forward for Thailand to maintain utmost transparency in its processes along the election roadmap, particularly when selecting the final two commissioners. While the timing of the election is important, it is equally as important that these elections are free and fair, and it is critical that Thailand upholds these standards in every aspect of the electoral process.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Thai-Myanmar border commerce to double by 2026
Sontirat to lead trade delegation to Vietnam next month
Thailand joins international aid effort for flooded Laos

National Affairs
Khaosan vendors call on BMA to scrap ban on pavement stalls
Hundreds of Thais stranded on active volcano after quake hit Indonesia
Bangkok lights up for King’s birthday

Customs
Border economies expected to retain high volumes
Customs to bar entry of 12,000 tonnes of imported e-waste
New Customs Act to transform Thailand into regional distribution hub

Defense & Security
Thai armed forces told to get ready to help Laos

Economics
BoT holds at 1.5%, signals future shift
Chinese dethrone Japanese as Bangkok's keenest condo buyers
Exports to see eased second-half growth
EEC land ownership laws awaited by firms
Non-bank bill set for cabinet
95% spending aim for investment doable: Somkid
Export boom rewrites GDP forecast for 4.5% gain this year
Public hearings on CPTPP to run nationwide from August

Energy
Egat tackles disruption with rejig
Dept sees hike in royalty fees on rising crude prices 
State-owned Thai oil company unit to invest more in Myanmar

Financial Services
TBA: Transfer glitch refunds shortened to 1 day
Retailers reinventing under pressure
In Thailand E-pay is the Way
BoT: E-payment climb hastening
Central bank links up for Thai pay system

Food & Agriculture
Rice exports to eclipse forecast
Cabinet approves new debt aid for farmers
Government cooks up plan for Northeast food production
Isan food hub aimed to innovate farms
Rice relief gets cabinet go-ahead
Indonesia ships 5,600 tons of shallots to Thailand
HHK RDSC hikes crop yields with Innovative Adapted Rice Ratooning Technique
Three-month coconut import ban proposed in Thailand
Thai FDA inspects vegetables for consumers' safety
Agriculture Min revising off-season farming strategy
China to fatten Thai tuna glut on back of trade war

Health & Life Sciences
PM chairs Herbal Expo, vows to develop traditional medicine
8.4 million Yaba tablets seized in Thai raid

ICT
E-commerce on track to reach B3.06tn
Digital asset licences at hand
Cyberport scheme taking shape
BoT tells banks to tackle cybersecurity
VAT exemption repeal in view
Big Data will become driving force for economy, Sontirat says
Thai internet use booms: study

Infrastructure
Northern double-track railway to Mekong to open 2023
High-speed airport rail headed to Rayong
Cabinet nod for Bt85bn double-track rail project in the North 
High-speed rail bidding plans on track
Losses predicted for high-speed railway
Cabinet mulls B59bn of megaprojects
High-speed rail link pushed back to 2024

Manufacturing
MPI rises on production and exports
Domestic car sales seen up 12% in 2018: Toyota
BoI set to favour EV firms

Travel & Tourism
Restored end of Pattaya beach attracting holidaymakers
How China’s travel boom expands soft power and distributes $115 bn in hard cash
Social campaign angles to hike village visits
Infographics: Thai Tourism's Reliance on China
Greening Thai tourism
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Thai-Myanmar border commerce to double by 2026 Bangkok Post 8th Aug 2018
The value of border trade between Thailand and Myanmar is expected to double to US$12 billion by 2026, says the assistant spokesman of the Prime Minister's Office. The cabinet has approved the proposed draft of policies and initiatives for the ninth Meeting of the Myanmar-Thailand Joint Commission, as diplomatic relations between the two nations turn 70.

Sontirat to lead trade delegation to Vietnam next month Bangkok Post 26th Jul 2018
Non-tariff barriers on Thai-built vehicles will be high on the agenda when Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong leads the Thai delegation to a two-day Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting on bilateral trade with Vietnam next month in Hanoi. Mr Sontirat said the 3rd meeting of the Thailand-Vietnam Joint Trade Committee on Aug 2-3 will be held in parallel with business matching talks between Thai and Vietnamese entrepreneurs. At least 30 Thai companies from sectors such as food, beverage, health,  cosmetics, packaging and energy and industrial products were expected to take part in business matching activities, the minister said.

Thailand joins international aid effort for flooded Laos The Nation 25th Jul 2018
INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT from both the private and government sectors is pouring into Laos after the country’s southeastern Attapeu province was hit by a severe flash flood following the collapse of a hydropower saddle dam. Thai company Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Pcl, which is involved in the joint venture to construct the failed Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Dam, has given an initial assistance of approximately 1.3 billion kip (Bt5 million) to Laos, the company’s public relations department said yesterday.

National Affairs

Khaosan vendors call on BMA to scrap ban on pavement stalls The Nation 30th Jul 2018
STREET VENDORS in Khaosan Road – one of Bangkok’s most famous districts – are calling on the city’s administration to cancel the ban on footpath stalls in their area. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) plans to ban stalls on the hugely popular Khaosan Road footpaths from tomorrow and limit trading from 6pm to midnight. The BMA also hopes to set up zones for food, clothing, massage and miscellaneous items. 

Hundreds of Thais stranded on active volcano after quake hit Indonesia The Nation 29th Jul 2018
Some 500 Thais and foreigners were stranded on an active volcano on Indonesia’s Lombok island, which was hit by a powerful earthquake on Sunday morning. The shallow 6.4magnitude quake that jolted the island triggered land and rockslides, preventing the tourists from going down the mountain.

Bangkok lights up for King’s birthday The Nation 26th Jul 2018
Bangkok has gone even more dazzling by night in celebration of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn's 66th birthday on Saturday, July 28. Throughout the month, the city’s landmarks on Rachadamnoen Avenue leading to Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace are shining with colourful lights.

Customs

Border economies expected to retain high volumes Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
Thailand's border trade remains on course for healthy growth after rising 6.8% year-on-year in the first half of the year amid higher demand for Thai goods. According to Wanchai Varavithya, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, overall border trade, including transit trade, amounted to 679 billion baht in the first half. Transit trade comprises businesses connected with the passage of goods through a country to their destination.

Customs to bar entry of 12,000 tonnes of imported e-waste Bangkok Post 24th Jul 2018
The Customs Department plans to redirect at least 12,000 tonnes of plastic scrap and electronic-waste (e-waste) after importers failed to process customs clearance procedures on time. There are 2,185 cargo containers loaded with plastic scrap and e-waste being held by the Customs Department - 2,100 carrying plastic waste and 85 loaded with e-waste. Six hundred containers filled with 12,000 tonnes of plastic scrap and e-waste will be redirected after the importers did not perform customs clearance within 45 days. These containers are classified in the Customs Department's F-list, said department spokesman Chaiyut Khamkhun.

New Customs Act to transform Thailand into regional distribution hub Pattaya Mail 26th Jul 2018
The Thai Chamber of Commerce has held a seminar to raise awareness about the new Customs Act B.E. 2560 among Thai importers and exporters to ensure they have correct understanding. The seminar aimed to educate import and export business operators about certain changes made to the customs law, particularly regarding a duty free zone. The Customs Act now recognizes areas where imported goods are waiting to be shipped to third country duty free zones, hoping to promote Thailand as a regional trading and distribution hub.

Defense & Security

Thai armed forces told to get ready to help Laos Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered the armed forces to prepare themselves so they can act readily when Lao authorities approach Thailand for assistance in the rescue after a dam collapsed in the neighbouring country. Defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit said Wednesday that Gen Prawit ordered the armed forces to follow up the flooding situation related to the Xepian-Se Nam Noy dam collapse.

Economics

BoT holds at 1.5%, signals future shift Bangkok Post 9th Aug 2018
The Bank of Thailand (BoT) left its policy rate unchanged as expected yesterday but said that the necessity of accommodative monetary policy is subsiding, adding to signs that a shift to a neutral stance is just around the corner. "Over the last two meetings [June 20 and yesterday], the committee regarded the need for accommodative policy as declining because of the broader-based economic recovery, but we can't tell when will be the trigger point," said Jaturong Jantarangs, assistant governor and secretary of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Chinese dethrone Japanese as Bangkok's keenest condo buyers Bangkok Post 8th Aug 2018
Chinese buyers are dominating the Bangkok property market with no end in sight, says the Thai Condominium Association. Prasert Taedullayasatit, the association's honorary president, said a large number of Chinese buyers have come into Bangkok's condo market in the past few years and the trend is expected to continue.

Exports to see eased second-half growth Bangkok Post 8th Aug 2018
Thailand's export activity is likely to slow slightly in the second half of 2018 after 11% growth in the first half and 12% in the second half of last year. Full-year growth is expected at 8.1% or in a range of 7.3-8.9%, according to the latest forecast by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).

EEC land ownership laws awaited by firms Bangkok Post 7th Aug 2018
Property investors and condo buyers from overseas are awaiting clarity on Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) regulations that will allow 100% foreign property ownership, according to a property consultant. Phattarachai Taweewong, senior manager at property consultant Colliers International Thailand's research department, said the draft EEC act that was approved earlier this year has boosted not only the industrial estate sector but also the residential market in three eastern provinces since last year.

Non-bank bill set for cabinet Bangkok Post 3rd Aug 2018
The Finance Ministry looks set to propose a draft bill on supervision of non-bank financial institutions to the cabinet, a measure meant to provide financial consumer protection, says a source familiar with the matter. The bill has already passed the public hearing process, during which no participants disagreed with the principles and reasons behind the bill, the source said.

95% spending aim for investment doable: Somkid Bangkok Post 26th Jul 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak says the investment budget disbursement target for state enterprises of 95% this fiscal year is achievable, even though a mere 41% of the annual investment budget had been doled out by the end of June. State enterprises are faring slightly better in drawing down investment budget this year than last year, but some of them, including the State Railway of Thailand, Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, Thailand Tobacco Monopoly and Airports of Thailand Plc, are still falling short of their targets, Mr Somkid said after chairing a meeting to accelerate budget spending.

Export boom rewrites GDP forecast for 4.5% gain this year The Nation 26th Jul 2018
SUSTAINED growth in exports headlines strong data that has prompted the Finance Ministry to raise its forecast for economic growth this year to 4.5 per cent, with a key index that points to increased confidence among manufacturers adding to the upbeat sentiment. Kulaya Tantitemit, the Finance Ministry’s inspector-general, yesterday said that the ministry had revised its economic growth forecast from 4.2 per cent, with the 4.5 per cent estimate sitting midway in a range of 4.2 to 4.8 per cent. 

Public hearings on CPTPP to run nationwide from August Bangkok Post 24th Jul 2018
Public hearings will be held in all regions throughout the country from August to September to gather feedback from all stakeholders on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a newly formed bloc of 11 Pacific Rim nations excluding the US. According to Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, the Commerce Ministry is scheduled to host the first public hearing in Bangkok in August to let stakeholders sound out opinions and concerns about the new trade bloc before the country moves ahead with any decisions on membership.

Energy

Egat tackles disruption with rejig Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
The board of the state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) has approved an organisational restructuring plan to respond to disruptive technology in the power sector and stay competitive in the domestic market. The restructuring plan will trim staff to 15,000 people within five years and decrease the number of deputy governors to eight in 2019 from 13 last year, said chairman Witoon Kulcharoenwirat. Egat currently has 22,000 employees. Hundreds are scheduled for retirement during 2018-22, and Egat will push an early-retirement scheme to help reach the staff cutback target.

Dept sees hike in royalty fees on rising crude prices  The Nation 31st Jul 2018
The Department of Mineral Fuels (DMF) expects a rise of 4.4-6.9 per cent in its collection of petroleum royalty fees to Bt42 billion to Bt43 billion this year, boosted by rising global prices for crude oil. For the half of the year, it received Bt21.92 billion in royalty fees. Veerasak Pungrassamee, director-general of the department, said that of the first-half collection in fees, Bt20.84 billion has been given to the Ministry of Finance as national revenue and the remaining Bt1.08 billion was allocated to local organisations. Since the royalty fees were imposed in 1981 until June 2018, total operating income from petroleum operations in Thailand amounted to Bt2.14 trillion. The revenue streams came from the petroleum royalty fees, extraordinary gains, income from a Thailand-Malaysia joint organisation, and petroleum income tax, another other sources.

State-owned Thai oil company unit to invest more in Myanmar Nikkei Asian Review 24th Jul 2018
Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production, a subsidiary of Thailand's national oil and gas conglomerate PTT, plans to greatly expand its investment in Myanmar. The company aims to join a new round of bidding for oil and gas exploration rights, due to open by the end of this year, in hopes of cashing in on higher crude prices. Piya Sukhumpanumet, general-manager of PTTEP International's Yangon office, which runs the company's oil and gas exploration business in Myanmar, said PTTEP is ready to take part in the bidding. "No matter how many blocks are opened for bidding this year, we are ready to bid as we have invested a lot in Myanmar. And we will maintain our presence in the country with more investment in oil and gas," Piya said.

Financial Services

TBA: Transfer glitch refunds shortened to 1 day Bangkok Post 8th Aug 2018
The Thai Bankers' Association (TBA) has agreed to shorten the period for unmatched fund transfer returns in the event of mobile app glitches to one day from a few days. The one-day fund returns were a result of a meeting between the Bank of Thailand and the TBA a few weeks ago, said TBA chairman Predee Daochai.

Retailers reinventing under pressure Bangkok Post 8th Aug 2018
Globally, e-commerce is hurting some bricks-and-mortar stores while transforming the retail property landscape. Online shopping is becoming more seamless and convenient, forcing physical stores to evolve to survive.

In Thailand E-pay is the Way OpenGovAsia 30th Jul 2018
Thailand's commerce  is heavily influenced by e-payments. Thailand’s average digital payment transactions are expected to triple to 150 transactions per person, per year, sooner than previously forecast. Thai government's e-payment plan PromptPay has 42.6 million registrants with a cumulative transaction value of 1.6 trillion baht. 

BoT: E-payment climb hastening Bangkok Post 30th Jul 2018
Thailand's average digital payment transactions are expected to triple to 150 transactions per person per year sooner than previously forecast, thanks to a series of launches of digital banking services. The Bank of Thailand expects the average number of e-payment transactions to increase to 150 transactions per user per year, faster than its earlier estimate that it would take a few years to reach the expected transaction volume, said Siritida Panomwan Na Ayudhya, assistant governor for the central bank's payment systems policy and financial group.

Central bank links up for Thai pay system The Nation 27th Jul 2018
The system, which would allow people from either country to rapidly send funds to one another, is aimed at those who travel often for business or tourism. An announcement from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said it would let users bypass the need to use costly exchanges to turn Cambodian riel into Thai baht, or vice versa. The systems will also allow Cambodian workers in Thailand to transfer money to their families at home.

Food & Agriculture

Rice exports to eclipse forecast Bangkok Post 9th Aug 2018
Thai Rice Exporters Association has raised its export forecast to 11 million tonnes this year, citing continuously robust purchase demand, the weakening baht and natural disasters that will dampen rice supply. The association's president, Pol Lt Charoen Laothammatas, said yesterday that the association is now confident that rice shipments will exceed the 9.5 million tonnes worth US$4.3 billion (142.8 billion baht) predicted in January, likely reaching 11 million tonnes worth $5.6 billion.

Cabinet approves new debt aid for farmers Bangkok Post 1st Aug 2018
The cabinet has approved in principle the extension of debt repayment and lower lending rates for small-scale farmers as the latest move to help shore up the agricultural sector. According to Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the Prime Minister's Office minister, the measures are still needed because the agriculture sector remains saddled with a spate of problems from both volatile farm prices and periodic natural disasters.

Government cooks up plan for Northeast food production Bangkok Post 26th Jul 2018
Four provinces in the lower Northeast will be grouped to set up a new business model to develop and market organic agricultural products as part of a government plan to turn the region into a national centre for innovative food. The so-called hub, which will centre on modern techniques to process farm produce and other products including cosmetics, is being pushed amid a current trend in which more and more Thai and foreign consumers are turning to chemical-free farming produce.

Isan food hub aimed to innovate farms Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
The Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee (JPPSCC) has agreed to set up an innovative food processing hub in Ubon Ratchathani in a bid to push forward a pilot plant for the local agricultural sector in the lower Northeast. The mobile cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha began yesterday at Ubon Ratchathani University to acknowledge the project, which is expected to increase household incomes and add value to local farm products.

Rice relief gets cabinet go-ahead Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
The cabinet on Tuesday approved rice aid measures worth a combined 97.95 billion baht for the 2018-19 crop year. The measures include a loan scheme worth 35.06 billion baht to be offered by the state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Co-operatives (BAAC) and 62.89 billion baht of one-off payments that the government will hand out directly to farmers via the BAAC.

Indonesia ships 5,600 tons of shallots to Thailand The Jakarta Post 2nd Aug 2018
Indonesia on Wednesday sent 5,600 tons of shallots to Thailand, the first shipment in a total of 9,000 tons of shallots to be exported to the country this year.

HHK RDSC hikes crop yields with Innovative Adapted Rice Ratooning Technique National News Bureau of Thailand 30th Jul 2018
The Huai Hong Krai Royal Development Study Center (HHK RDSC) has exhibited a new method of Rice Ratooning that could increase crop yields by fifty percent. Chief of Academic Affairs of HHK RDSC, Dr. Noppadon Kowsuvon has presented a report on the Innovative Adapted Rice Ratooning Technique to the media, saying that the new method has been developed at the demonstration farm run by the center. The traditional method of Ratoon Rice Lodging is unsustainable, but this approach allows farmers to select ideal seedlings from the mother crop and use them for further cultivation.

Three-month coconut import ban proposed in Thailand Fresh Plaza 30th Jul 2018
Thailand is considering a three-month import ban on coconuts to shore up local prices. The  measure was approved on Tuesday, to come into effect between August and October, said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. It will be tabled for cabinet approval soon. Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong added that the measure came from discussions with all parties: "The price slump this year is the result of increased imports over the past 2-3 years following a plague. Now that the problem was addressed, the measure is necessary to keep a market balance.”

Thai FDA inspects vegetables for consumers' safety Fresh Plaza 30th Jul 2018
After a warning from the Pesticide Alert Network about excessive levels of pesticides on vegetables sold in markets, Secretary General of the FDA, dr. Wanchai Sattayawuthipong Tuesday stated that the FDA has been continuously inspecting and monitoring markets on this issue. The FDA has also strengthened preventative measures by launching two regulations to control the level of pesticides and the process of preserving fruit and vegetables.

Agriculture Min revising off-season farming strategy National News Bureau of Thailand 30th Jul 2018
The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is determined to reduce the area used for rice farming after the monsoon season. Deputy Prime Minister in charge of economic affairs Somkid Jatusripitak, has instructed the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to make adjustments to its off-season farming plan with a priority given to alternative crops. For instance, two million rai currently used for rice farming will be used to grow other economic crops such as corn and cassava given their drought tolerance capacity.

China to fatten Thai tuna glut on back of trade war Bangkok Post 24th Jul 2018
Thailand's tuna imports for raw material are expected to increase by 5% to 750,000-800,000 tonnes in 2018 as the trade war between the US and China results in greater Chinese tuna dumping in Thailand, says the Thai Tuna Industry Association (TTIA). Last year, Thailand imported 700,000 tonnes of tuna to be processed and canned. Because of the Sino-US trade war, the TTIA forecasts a lower price for tuna as the raw material cost decreases by 15-20% to US$1,000-1,500 a tonne from $2,300 (76,883 baht) last year.

Health & Life Sciences

PM chairs Herbal Expo, vows to develop traditional medicine National News Bureau of Thailand 30th Jul 2018
The Prime Minister has vowed that his administration will continue to improve the public health system and foster wider acceptance of Thai herbal remedies. Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha made the remarks as he chaired an academic conference to celebrate the country’s public health achievements over the last century.

8.4 million Yaba tablets seized in Thai raid Channel NewsAsia 30th Jul 2018
About 8.4 million Yaba tablets, 121kg of Ice and 25kg of Ketamine were seized from two suspected Thai drug smugglers during an early morning police operation on Thursday (Jul 19). Two male suspects were also nabbed by undercover policemen near a petrol station in Samut Prakan province.

ICT

E-commerce on track to reach B3.06tn Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
The value of Thailand's e-commerce market is expected to reach 3.06 trillion baht this year, up 8.5% from last year, driven by the continuous growth of social commerce. According to the latest report of the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), the market value of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce in Thailand ranked the highest in Southeast Asia at US$23.33 billion (778.3 billion baht) in 2017.

Digital asset licences at hand Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
The Finance Ministry's announcement on approving digital asset licensing took effect Tuesday, and interested parties can apply for licences from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Existing businesses that already operate a digital asset business or newcomers interested in obtaining licences as brokerage firms, traders or trading centres for digital assets can apply for official licences at the SEC. "The SEC is [now] open for application approval for operating a digital asset business, as the Finance Ministry's announcement on digital asset licences has come into force," said SEC secretary-general Rapee Sucharitakul.

Cyberport scheme taking shape Bangkok Post 24th Jul 2018
The government will conclude the main details of Thailand Cyberport development in the next two months before getting the project off the ground by year-end to create a national digital community and one-stop facilitator for startups and entrepreneurs. The announcement comes after the digital economy and society (DE) minister and his team met the chairman of Hong Kong Cyberport Management Co last week. The two parties agreed to drive development of Thailand Cyberport. Hong Kong Cyberport is a digital community whose management company is wholly owned by the Hong Kong government.

BoT tells banks to tackle cybersecurity Bangkok Post 7th Aug 2018
The Bank of Thailand has instructed all banks to make cybersecurity a priority, develop systems to tackle unauthorised access and offer compensation in the event of financial losses from a data breach. The central bank recently summoned board members of all banks to discuss the recent cyber-attack and requested that they draft important policies to protect customers from cyber-risks, said governor Veerathai Santiphabhob.

VAT exemption repeal in view Bangkok Post 31st Jul 2018
The Revenue Department says the draft bill on revocation of the value-added tax (VAT) exemption for online purchases of goods worth less than 1,500 baht from vendors outside of Thailand that are shipped by mail will be ready soon. The draft bill is being considered by the Revenue Department and will establish a system to facilitate VAT payment as more than 100,000 parcels a day are sent by mail, said director-general Ekniti Nitithanprapas.

Big Data will become driving force for economy, Sontirat says The Nation 26th Jul 2018
COMMERCE Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong has shared his insights into the potential for Big Data to become a driving force in the economy. Sontirat said the processing of vast amounts of data could generate increased purchasing power among people at the grassroots level of the economy, while creating job opportunities for people in a regional areas and helping to develop small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through appropriate training based on individual skills. They can use such skills to improve their businesses for the 4.0 era and prepare themselves for the international trading arenas, he said.

Thai internet use booms: study Thai Tech 26th Jul 2018
The Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) said Thais use the internet for an average of 10 hours per day, increasing from 3 hours and 40 minutes last year. This was a result of increasingly digital lifestyles, said ETDA chief executive officer Surangkana Wayuparb.

Infrastructure

Northern double-track railway to Mekong to open 2023 Bangkok Post 9th Aug 2018
CHIANG RAI: Construction of the 323km double-track railway from Den Chai in Phrae to Chiang Khong on the Mekong River border will be accelerated so it can enter service two years earlier, the transport minister announced on Thursday. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the 85-billion-baht project was part of the ministry’s 2015-2022 transport infrastructure development plan. It was approved by the cabinet on July 31.

High-speed airport rail headed to Rayong Bangkok Post 4th Aug 2018
The committee for special economic zone development in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme has approved a 30-kilometre extension of the high-speed railway that will connect three airports to Rayong province, for an estimated 10-billion-baht expenditure. The 224-billion-baht high-speed railway project will connect Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-tapao airports on a 220km route. The route will end in Chon Buri province.

Cabinet nod for Bt85bn double-track rail project in the North  The Nation 31st Jul 2018
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the State Railways of Thailand’s Den Chai-Chiang Rai-Chiang Khong double-track rail project, at a cost of Bt85.345 billion. The bidding process is expected to take place this year, after which construction of the entire route will take four years.

High-speed rail bidding plans on track Bangkok Post 27th Jul 2018
Bidding on the construction contract for the second section of the 252.35-km Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima Thai-Chinese high-speed rail project will take place in August as planned. The 11-km second section is one of four in the first phase of an overall project that will see a second phase stretch from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai.

Losses predicted for high-speed railway Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is worried that the planned Shinkansen-like Thai-Japanese high-speed railway from Bangkok to Chiang Mai will run at a loss when it opens, citing a 66% drop in predicted daily passenger numbers. Acting SRT governor Voravuth Mala made the observation after learning the results of a feasibility study from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

Cabinet mulls B59bn of megaprojects Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
The cabinet on Tuesday acknowledged a raft of proposed infrastructure development projects worth 59 billion baht for the lower Northeast as the government concluded its two-day cabinet trip to Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen provinces in the region. Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the cabinet discussed 19 projects worth 59 billion baht for four provinces -- Ubon Ratchathani, Yasothon, Si Sa Ket and Amnat Charoen.

High-speed rail link pushed back to 2024 Bangkok Post 24th Jul 2018
The high-speed railway set to link Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports will open in mid-2024 at the earliest, State Railway of Thailand (SRT) acting governor Voravuth Mala said Monday. The government had earlier expected the 200-billion-baht megaproject to be open by 2023. The interim rail chief made the comments after a scheduled first meeting among government authorities and representatives from all 31 firms who bought bidding documents for the project this and last month.

Manufacturing

MPI rises on production and exports Bangkok Post 1st Aug 2018
The Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) reported that the manufacturing production index (MPI) in June rose 4.7% year-on-year to 115.9, helped by higher production of cars, engines, sugar, air conditioners, plastics and electronic parts. The MPI increased for a 14th straight month as shipments to the US in June stood at US$2.49 billion (82.8 billion baht), marking an all-time high.

Domestic car sales seen up 12% in 2018: Toyota Bangkok Post 25th Jul 2018
Thailand's total domestic car sales are expected to be 980,000 units this year, up 12% from 2017, and more than previously expected, Toyota Motor Corp's Thai unit said on Wednesday. Toyota, which commands about one-third of the Thai vehicle market, also raised its own 2018 car sales in the Southeast Asian nation to 315,000 cars, up 31% from last year, Toyota Motor Thailand's President Michinobu Sugata told a news conference.

BoI set to favour EV firms Bangkok Post 24th Jul 2018
The Board of Investment (BoI) looks set to offer promotional privileges to two electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers after having frozen all EV applications from carmakers for almost a year. Approval of investment applications worth 10 billion baht for promotional privileges on EVs for two firms, one of which is Honda, will be discussed at Wednesday's BoI meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, said secretary-general Duangjai Asawachintachit.

Travel & Tourism

Restored end of Pattaya beach attracting holidaymakers Bangkok Post 31st Jul 2018
CHON BURI: Pattaya beach is attracting more people since being widened by a sandfill extension built at the northern end. The extension has widened the beach there to its original 35 metres. The Marine Department hired a contractor to improve the landscape and extend the beach under a beach "nourishment" scheme after a survey highlighted major erosion along the 2.7km Pattaya beach, from the northern end to the southern.

How China’s travel boom expands soft power and distributes $115 bn in hard cash The Nation 30th Jul 2018
A VIBRANT economy boosts tourism, strengthens soft power - that zip file-like aphorism, when uncompressed, would unfold a fascinating story of a delicately interlinked travel ecosystem involving China and the rest of the world. Newly affluent, upwardly mobile Chinese on the mainland are spending big money on their outbound travels for enhanced life experiences. More and more countries are realising Chinese tourists are good for their local economies. According to a June report from the China Tourism Academy, Chinese outbound travellers spent more than US$115 billion outside the mainland, 5 per cent more than in 2016.

Social campaign angles to hike village visits Bangkok Post 30th Jul 2018
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a domestic tourism campaign called Aor Sor Social, marshalling an online group of volunteers to help promote village tourism. There are 14 communities taking part in the project, and the agency hopes the campaign will help increase tourism income to these communities by at least 20% this year.

Infographics: Thai Tourism's Reliance on China The Nation 27th Jul 2018
Please refer to the link to view the infographics

Greening Thai tourism Bangkok Post 2nd Aug 2018
Lowering the use of plastic bags and single-use plastic products and adopting more natural-made materials are some of the latest practices being pushed by the government to promote green tourism in Thailand. Officials working at tourism agencies are required to set an example for the campaign. During the annual meeting of the Tourism Authority of Thailand last month in Nakhon Pathom province, all TAT workers were asked to bring their own bottles for refilling drinking water and wear outfits made from national products like silk and cotton. Such lifestyle changes have also been advised for those working in the tourism industry, be it public or private agencies.