Thailand Update: October 4, 2018

Thailand Update | October 4, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith, Sunita Kapoor, Ella Duangkaew, Monica Chritton
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

October 9, 2018: First Planning Call for the 2018 Business Mission to the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM)

October 29, 2018 - November 2, 2018: Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2018

October 30, 2018 - October 31, 2018: 2018 Mission to the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM)

November 8, 2018 - November 9, 2018: 2018 Business Mission to the 24th ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting

December 4, 2018 - December 6, 2018: 2018 Business Mission to the 18th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting

April 1, 2019 - April 4, 2019: Mission to the 2019 ASEAN Finance Ministers' and Central Bank Governors' Meeting

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand’s Energy Reform Plan Set for First Steps of Implementation by End of 2018

According to the National Energy Reform Committee the first stages of Thailand’s latest Energy Reform Plan (ERP) are expected to be rolled out before the end of the year. Originally issued in January 2018, the latest ERP aims to increase private sector participation in the energy sector, especially in renewable energy, and achieve full deregulation of the sector over the next two decades. The National Reform Steering Assembly issued the ERP just at the end of last year, after spending over two years drafting it.

A main focus of the latest ERP is increasing energy production and security. One way that the plan aims to support electricity generation and the increased utilization of renewable energy sources is by deregulating peer-to-peer power trading. By relaxing the commitments of private power purchase agreements, the ERP enables small power producers such as residential and commercial buildings to sell power back to the grid. One way in which residences, communities, and commercial buildings can sell electricity back to the grid is through the use of rooftop solar installations, meaning the ERP ends up making an economic case for the increased use of renewable energy. Other additions in the latest ERP include the establishment of a one-stop-shop for granting licenses to gas operators and power plants, a new building code that requires higher energy efficiency and saving standards, and a shift towards the widespread use of compressed natural gas in the transport sector. In the longer run, the new ERP includes a fourth phase of large-scale petrochemical investment in the Eastern Economic Corridor, a push for the utilization of electric vehicles, and encouraging the use of energy storage systems. Eventually, the Government also aims to consolidate the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, and the Provincial Electricity Authority into a single entity.

The most recent ERP is actually the third such initiative since the 1990s, when Thailand sought to deregulate the oil and electricity industries and privatize the state’s energy enterprises. The second ERP was implemented in the 2010s and aimed to increase the utilization of renewable energy sources. According to Pornchai Rujiprapa, Chairman of the National Energy Reform Committee, the energy sector represents 20% of the country’s economic value, necessitating the periodic review of the Government’s energy sector policies to ensure that economic activity and momentum can be sustained. Referring to the importance of the latest ERP, Nantika Thangsuphanich, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Energy, said it is especially needed at this time due to delays in petroleum exploration and production activities and the development of new power plants.

Thailand Committee Set Up to Research Farm Chemicals

Amidst the ongoing debate over Thailand’s proposed restrictions on the use of three farm chemicals (paraquat, glyphosate, and chlorpyrifos), Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Wiwat Salyakamthorn has set up a committee to conduct an in-depth study on the potential impact of imposing restrictions on these chemicals. The committee is expected to present results to the prime minister in October. Additionally, Minister Wiwat also signaled that the government in Bangkok would be pushing for organic farming on 5 million rai (approximately 800,000 hectares) to produce crops for public consumption that are free from crop protection technology.

Proponents of imposing restrictions on the use of these chemicals have cited the potential loss in crop yield and production efficiency, especially for Thailand’s smallholder farmers. However, rather than calling for the complete ban of the chemicals, they have advocated for more responsible use. Glyphosate for example is an important tool for Thailand farmers. It represents 33% of all herbicide use in the country and is widely used in plantation crops such as oil palm, rubber, rice, corn, sugarcane, cassava and tropical fruit. Without access to glyphosate, farmer’s weed control costs would increase by $25.6/hectares, or $54.2 million per year. Although banned in some countries, glyphosate has been safely used for more than 40 years and is registered for use in 160 countries worldwide. Should the ban go through, it is likely to reduce Thai farmers’ competitiveness and export opportunities due to a decrease in yield, efficiency, and higher production costs. It will also have negative implications on manufacturers and supply chains in the food and agriculture sector.

Thailand Approves Draft Digital ID Bill

Thailand’s Cabinet recently approved a Digital Identification Bill in principle, which would set up a National Digital ID (NDID) platform. Drafters expect the Bill to be passed by the National Assembly quickly and take effect by the middle of 2019. The NDID system under the Bill is intended to facilitate online transactions and enhance stakeholder security, although concerns have been raised about the system’s risks.

For banks, the NDID system under the bill would enable faster customer identify verification by drawing together three parties: an ID provider (IDP), Authoritative Source (AS) and relaying party (RP) to corroborate identification of an end-user. For example, according to the Bangkok Post, a first bank (as the RP) could rely on a second bank (as the IDP) that has already conducted an e-KYC (Know Your Customer) procedure and verified the end-user with backing from a trusted source like the Credit Bureau (as the AS) to release information about the end-user to the first bank for further use. The effect of a faster system under this design would foster growth in digital loans and overall customer bases.

The 12-person working committee that designed the NDID expects the system to benefit public and private stakeholders. According to The Nation, Bill drafter Bhume Bhumiratana stated that as the Bill intends to lower costs for identification authentication, the public may feel more secure in opening accounts and engaging in online transactions, which will also enable the public to collect names, make inquiries or lodge complaints.

However, some have raised questions about the system’s potential for privacy breaches and questions of cybersecurity. As the sole operator, the NDID would face consolidated risk of cybersecurity attack or data breach. Prinya Hom-anek, Secretary-General of the Thailand Information Security Association, said that a single NDID is “not ready to be used on the global level,” and that public services need a high standard of reliable and secure services. Somwang Luangphaiboonsri of the Thailand E-Payment Trade Association said the system should have a trusted global auditor to verify the system and ensure the NDID platform has standards of good governance, transparency and protection of privacy.

It is concerning that the Draft Bill has not been shared with the private sector for public consultation, particularly given that most concerns are coming from industry associations. It will be important for multi-stakeholder consultation to take place to ensure the Bill is developed with utmost transparency and flexibility, to achieve the shared industry and government goal of expanding financial inclusion.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
  • Call for Input: Industry Comments on Thailand's Revised Draft Cybersecurity Bill: The Council is urgently seeking your comments for an industry submission on Thailand's revised draft Cybersecurity Bill by COB Friday, October 5 SGTThe first draft of the submission is available for comment- please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org for a copy of this submission. The revised bill and the previous draft bill are also attached (in Thai), as well as the industry comments the Council submitted on the last version of the draft bill on April 17. The Council is also urgently seeking an English translation of the revised draft Bill to share with members. If any members have an available translation, please share it with Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org as soon as possible.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Looming poll 'has boosted Thai-NZ ties'
South Korea creates path for illegal workers to leave
Thai–Vietnam trade expected to reach $20 bn by 2020 
CPPCC to strengthen cooperation with organizations of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand: senior Chinese official
Belt and Road is drawing China and Thailand closer together

National Affairs
Thailand will stick to 2019 date for general election, deputy PM says
Cabinet ministers are entitled to join new political party, says Prayut
Three appointed privy councillors
New army chief takes over as Thailand prepares for return of civilian rule
Political ban decision due in December
Democrats and Pheu Thai convene general assemblies ahead of general election
NCPO chief Prayut issues order for adviser  Sontaya Kunplome to be new Pattaya mayor

Customs
Cabinet approves Hong Kong office
Cross-border zone in North could boost trade links
Customs to tighten up watch on couriers of brand-name products

Defense & Security
Military ‘filed GT200-related lawsuits a long time ago’

Economics
Thai economy insulated from global volatility despite rate hikes, trade war 
FPO spots signs of low-income recovery
In a Stormy Quarter, Thailand's Baht Shines as Rate Rise Beckons
ADB raises economic outlook for Thailand, cut forecast growth for Asean
US tells Thailand to allow foreign worker unions
ADB hikes Thai GDP outlook on strong H1
Thailand: an Economy on the Rise
Thailand: Manufacturing points to GDP slowdown
Thailand, Patient Zero in Asia’s Financial Crisis, Enjoys a Much Better 2018

Energy
Call for further power plants
Energy reform plan ready for action
Analysis: Thailand excels as most flexible sweet crude buyer in Southeast Asia

Financial Services
BoT, TBA up transfer cap
Thailand Holds Key Rate With Prospect for Future Hike Rising
Draft Corporate Governance for the Board of Directors of Insurance Companies

Food & Agriculture
Upstream dams a threat to tomatoes, farmers
Cabinet gives the nod to restructure farmers' debt
No water tax plan for small farmers: NLA
Thailand Publishes Fishing Vessels Lists
Cabinet promotes corn farming after rice season in 33 provinces
BAAC sets aside B2bn for cheap contract farm loans
Thailand opens support centre for Myanmar fishing workers
Significant Strides Made in Thailand’s Battle against IUU Fishing
Sweeteners on the table for weening farmers off rice
FAO, Ministry of Agriculture drafting smallholder rubber farming programme

Health & Life Sciences
Dengue Outbreak in Thailand Expands 19% in One Month
Mixed reactions to Finance Ministry’s cigarette tax hike  proposal
FDA seizes ฿30m worth of illegal weight-loss products, food supplements
Thailand police hand over 100 kilos of marijuana for medical research
Thai healthcare gets a global nod of approval
Marijuana for Medicinal Use to be Legal ‘Within Eight Months’ in Thailand
FDA revokes licences for two brands of mosquito coil

ICT
Police to go high-tech in fight against crime
Agencies offer scheme to ease poverty
Blockchain to empower Thailand’s FSI
MoU on digital trade and investment signed with US
Thailand's digital ID bill receives mixed reviews
Paving the way to digital ID
Digital Thailand Big Bang 2018: Dassault Systèmes signs MOU with depa
PM prioritises digital upgrade

Infrastructure
Thailand taps equity market for $1.4 billion infrastructure fund
Bangkok’s sinking truth
Public Works gets lion's share of BMA's Bt80 billion budget
BMA governor inspects delayed Pattanakarn tunnel project

Manufacturing
US becomes No. 2 scrap aluminum exporter to Thailand after China curbs
Sadao SEZ to connect rubber city value chain

Travel & Tourism
AoT defends move to build new terminal
50% drop in Chinese tour groups arriving in Phuket
Maya Bay closure draws ire from tour firms
Grand tourism plans for EEC
Controversial public van ban takes effect
Bangkok tops GDCI for third straight year
Govt mulls plan for 1 visa, 5 cities

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Looming poll 'has boosted Thai-NZ ties' Bangkok Post 3rd Oct 2018
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters became the first foreign minister to visit Thailand since 2009 when he made a trip to the kingdom from Monday to today. He was invited as an honorable guest of Thai Foreign Minister Don Paramudwinai.

South Korea creates path for illegal workers to leave The Nation 3rd Oct 2018
More than 120,000 illegal Thai workers in South Korea will be able to return to their home country without being blacklisted, if they come forward voluntarily by March 31, 2019. Without appearing on the blacklist, they will still stand a chance of going back to work in South Korea as legal workers. 

Thai–Vietnam trade expected to reach $20 bn by 2020  The Nation 28th Sep 2018
The target for bilateral trade between Thailand and Vietnam has been set at US$20 billion by 2020, said Thai-Vietnam Business Council’s president Sanan Angubolkul during an interview with The Nation yesterday. In 2017, Thai-Vietnamese bilateral trade stood at US$16 billion in total value. Of which, Thailand exported up to US$11 billion worth of products to the country while Vietnam exported US$5 billion to Thailand, said Sanan, who is also chairman of Srithai Superware Plc.

CPPCC to strengthen cooperation with organizations of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand: senior Chinese official Xinhua 27th Sep 2018
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) would like to enhance communication and cooperation with relevant organizations of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, so as to contribute to the development of relations between China and the three nations, a senior Chinese official has said.

Belt and Road is drawing China and Thailand closer together The Nation 27th Sep 2018
Recently, I visited Khon Kaen, Nong Khai and Udon Thani in Thailand’s Northeast. At the Confucius Institute of Khon Kaen University, I attended the opening ceremony of the preparatory class for Thai vocational college students to study in China. I met 40 students from 15 vocational colleges in Thailand. They will first study Chinese in the Confucius Institute and then learn logistics, electronics, machinery, computer and other professional knowledge in China’s vocational colleges. As these students prepare for their classes in China, 28 Thai students are learning high-speed rail technology at Liuzhou Railway Vocational Technical College in Guangxi, China.

National Affairs

Thailand will stick to 2019 date for general election, deputy PM says Reuters 3rd Oct 2018
There will be no delays to a general election planned in Thailand for 2019, the deputy prime minister said on Wednesday, amid the concerns of government critics and the opposition that it could be pushed back.

Cabinet ministers are entitled to join new political party, says Prayut The Nation 2nd Oct 2018
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday defended the right of four of his ministers to join the pro-junta Palang Pracharath Party, saying it was a “private matter” and they were able to do so as long as it did not affect their ability to do their public duty. The dual role of the ministers both in the government and in Palang Pracharath, which will contest the upcoming election, has prompted concern over the competitive advantage the party may have. 

Three appointed privy councillors Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2018
A former cabinet secretary and the former commanders of the army and the air force who retired on Sunday have been appointed privy councillors, effective immediately.

New army chief takes over as Thailand prepares for return of civilian rule Channel NewsAsia 28th Sep 2018
A new chief of Thailand's army took command on Friday, a staunchly royalist general who will oversee a return to barracks to make way for a civilian government after nearly five years of military rule.

Political ban decision due in December Bangkok Post 27th Sep 2018
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is likely to hold a meeting in December to determine when the ban on political activities will be fully lifted, according to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.

Democrats and Pheu Thai convene general assemblies ahead of general election National News Bureau of Thailand 27th Sep 2018
Two major political parties have organized their own general assembly to pave the way for the national poll. On Wednesday, the Pheu Thai Party started accepting new membership applications in a process which was witnessed by its main members and executives..

NCPO chief Prayut issues order for adviser  Sontaya Kunplome to be new Pattaya mayor The Nation 25th Sep 2018
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as leader of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), issued an order on Tuesday to replace the current mayor, Anan Charoenchasri, with Sontaya. Sontaya is replacing the mayor whom Prayut had only appointed in February.

Customs

Cabinet approves Hong Kong office Bangkok Post 3rd Oct 2018
The cabinet yesterday approved a draft bill to protect and offer privileges to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Thailand to improve economic ties and link the country to China's new overseas investment strategy. Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the PM's Office Minister, said the draft bill also covers an exemption of value-added tax (VAT) and personal income tax waivers to officials who work for the new office.

Cross-border zone in North could boost trade links Bangkok Post 24th Sep 2018
The government is studying the feasibility of establishing a cross-border economic zone in the Golden Triangle under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation scheme to expand economic links for Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China.

Customs to tighten up watch on couriers of brand-name products Thai PBS 24th Sep 2018
The Customs Department will set up an intelligence gathering centre to keep track on people posing as passengers but in fact are couriers smuggling in brand-name products from overseas.   These people often have customers who give them advance orders.

Defense & Security

Military ‘filed GT200-related lawsuits a long time ago’ The Nation 27th Sep 2018
All military units have taken legal action against their suppliers of GT200 bomb/narcotics detectors after they were found not to work. “The Defence Ministry started legal proceedings after their overseas sales representatives were convicted of fraud around 2013,” Defence Ministry spokesman Lt-General Kongcheep Tantravanich said on Thursday.

Economics

Thai economy insulated from global volatility despite rate hikes, trade war  The Nation 2nd Oct 2018
Thailand's economy and banks should be able to weather heightening global risks from rising US interest rates, although escalating trade wars could pressure global growth next year, according to sovereign and banking analysts at Fitch Ratings’ annual Thai conference in Bangkok yesterday. Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob was the guest of honour at the event and delivered the keynote opening address.

FPO spots signs of low-income recovery Bangkok Post 28th Sep 2018
Improving farm income and a higher number of motorcycle registrations in August suggest that the economic recovery is spilling over to rural people, says a senior official at the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO).

In a Stormy Quarter, Thailand's Baht Shines as Rate Rise Beckons Bloomberg 28th Sep 2018
Thailand’s currency has been a standout performer in what’s been another tough quarter for many emerging currencies. Along with an outsize current-account surplus, the country is luring investors thanks to prospects for the first interest-rate hike since 2011. The baht has strengthened almost 2 percent this quarter against the dollar, the top performer among 12 major Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg. It’s also good enough for No. 2 in emerging markets, behind Mexico’s peso, which has benefited from a U.S. trade deal. The gain takes back some of the previous quarter’s loss, when the baht put in Asia’s worst performance.

ADB raises economic outlook for Thailand, cut forecast growth for Asean Thai PBS World 28th Sep 2018
ADB also raised its forecast of Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019 to 4.3% from previously 4.1%, while keeping the forecast of Asean’s GDP for 2019 unchanged at 5.2%. Thailand’s stronger growths in export, private consumption and infrastructure development projects were among key factors leading ADB to raise the economic outlook for Thailand this year and next year.

US tells Thailand to allow foreign worker unions Bangkok Post 28th Sep 2018
The US is calling on Thailand to alter its labour laws and allow foreign workers to set up labour unions here in order to protect workers' rights.

ADB hikes Thai GDP outlook on strong H1 Bangkok Post 27th Sep 2018
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised Thailand's economic growth forecast to 4.5% this year and 4.3% in 2019 after robust growth of 4.8% in the first half amid improving economic prospects. Looking ahead, we see high consumer confidence supporting domestic demand and the government's welfare programme for low-income earners helping prop up domestic demand," Thiam Hee Ng, a senior economist at ADB, said as the global lender launched its "Asian Development Outlook 2018 Update: Maintaining Stability Amid Heightened Uncertainty".

Thailand: an Economy on the Rise The Nation 26th Sep 2018
Amidst all the focus on the countdown towards general elections in Thailand, one piece of positive news that has gone somewhat under the radar are the strong economic figures coming out ofthe country.Official statistics recently released by the Ministry of Finance of Thailand indicate that the Thai economy performed substantially better during the first quarter of 2018, compared with the corresponding period 4 years ago in 2014.

Thailand: Manufacturing points to GDP slowdown ING Think 25th Sep 2018
Thailand’s disappointing manufacturing data for August foreshadows a further slowdown in the country’s GDP growth in the current quarter. Slower growth dampens the case for a macroeconomic policy shift to tightening from the current accommodative stance. Indeed, the Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob has been alluding to continued policy accommodation in the medium-term. Still, we do not see this displacing the Thai baht (THB) from its status as Asia's best-performing currency anytime soon thanks to continued external payments support despite some weakening of the trade balance in recent months. Our end-year USD/THB forecast remains at 33.0.

Thailand, Patient Zero in Asia’s Financial Crisis, Enjoys a Much Better 2018 Wall Street Journal 21st Sep 2018
In Thailand, the country at the center of the Asian financial crisis two decades ago, markets are booming. That is thanks in part to a large current-account surplus, which effectively means Thailand is today a net lender abroad, rather than being overly dependent on foreign funding.

Energy

Call for further power plants Bangkok Post 3rd Oct 2018
Business operators have high expectations that the country's energy policymakers will soon open licence granting for waste-to-energy power plants with a combined capacity of 300 megawatts.

Energy reform plan ready for action Bangkok Post 22nd Sep 2018
Thailand's energy reform plan is ready for implementation, with an emphasis on deregulating the electricity sector and enhancing competitiveness among private operators.

Analysis: Thailand excels as most flexible sweet crude buyer in Southeast Asia S&P Global Platts 21st Sep 2018
The strong uptrend in international outright crude prices has prompted Thailand to actively diversify its crude supply sources so far this year and the country may earn the title as the most flexible sweet crude importer in Southeast Asia, with state-run PTT picking up more than 10 different low sulfur grades from across the globe since the second quarter.

Financial Services

BoT, TBA up transfer cap Bangkok Post 27th Sep 2018
The Bank of Thailand and the Thai Bankers' Association (TBA) have agreed to raise the ceiling on fund transfer amounts to 700,000 baht per transaction via the online channel from the current 50,000 baht,...

Thailand Holds Key Rate With Prospect for Future Hike Rising Bloomberg 27th Sep 2018
Thailand’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged near a record low as expected, with the prospect of a future tightening increasing as more monetary policy committee members dissented. Five of the seven committee members at the meeting voted to hold the one-day bond repurchase rate at 1.5 percent, where it’s been since 2015, according to the Bank of Thailand’s statement on Wednesday. Two voted for an increase to 1.75 percent, compared to just one in the June and August meetings.

Draft Corporate Governance for the Board of Directors of Insurance Companies Baker McKenzie 27th Sep 2018
These Draft CG Notifications are significant in that they serve as Thailand's first-ever legislation to specifically regulate corporate governance. To date, there appears to be a lack of legislation that clearly lays out the key requirements needed to ensure good corporate governance.

Food & Agriculture

Upstream dams a threat to tomatoes, farmers The Nation 4th Oct 2018
Thailand's finest tomato production areas along Mekong River in the northeastern region have suffered serious impacts from dams in the lower Mekong River Basin, causing financial distress for the local farmers and threatening their livelihoods.

Cabinet gives the nod to restructure farmers' debt The Nation 2nd Oct 2018
The Cabinet yesterday approved the rehabilitation of Bt6.3 billion in loans extended to 36,605 farmers, who are members of the Reconstruction and Development Fund (RDF), by the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), Nattaporn Jatusripitak, spokesperson attached to the deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs, said after a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

No water tax plan for small farmers: NLA Bangkok Post 28th Sep 2018
The chairman of the National Legislative Assembly's (NLA) committee vetting a new national water resources bill Thursday assured that the bill, which will be given a second reading in the House today, does not contain a section that will tax farmers for irrigating their fields.

Thailand Publishes Fishing Vessels Lists The Maritime Executive 28th Sep 2018
Thailand has become one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to publish a full list of all its registered and licensed fishing vessels, alongside a watchlist containing vessels prohibited from fishing.

Cabinet promotes corn farming after rice season in 33 provinces National News Bureau of Thailand 28th Sep 2018
The cabinet has approved a Pracharat project promoting corn farming as an alternative occupation for rice farmers in 33 provinces of Thailand. The Government Spokesman, Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, said on Thursday (Sept 27) that the project will support corn farming with a budget of 461 million baht, as proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

BAAC sets aside B2bn for cheap contract farm loans Bangkok Post 27th Sep 2018
The state-owned Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) has set aside 2 billion baht in low-rate loans for contract farmers in an effort to boost their income.

Thailand opens support centre for Myanmar fishing workers The Myanmar Times 26th Sep 2018
Labour officials of Myanmar and Thailand have opened a support centre to assist Myanmar workers in Ranong province of southern Thailand, according to the Myanmar labour attaché in Bangkok. The attaché office said in a press statement that the centre, which opened on Sunday, will provide visas and work permits for Myanmar nationals who want to work in the kingdom’s fishing industry.

Significant Strides Made in Thailand’s Battle against IUU Fishing The Nation 24th Sep 2018
Among the many pressing issues accorded priority by the Thai Government, the problem of IUU fishing is at the forefront.  Over the past three years, the Government has spared no effort in its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Thailand, with the battle being waged on many fronts simultaneously. It is worth highlighting some of them.

Sweeteners on the table for weening farmers off rice Bangkok Post 20th Sep 2018
New measures to encourage rice farmers to grow cash crops other than rice are scheduled to go before the cabinet for approval next Tuesday.

FAO, Ministry of Agriculture drafting smallholder rubber farming programme Khmer Times 25th Sep 2018
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture are teaming up to establish a project that will focus on lifting the living standards of smallholder rubber farmers in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand. A project plan is now being drafted by the parties involved and is expected to be ready this week.

Health & Life Sciences

Dengue Outbreak in Thailand Expands 19% in One Month Precision Vaccinations 3rd Oct 2018
Thailand’s ongoing Dengue virus outbreak has now been confirmed in 39,268 cases, from 77 provinces during 2018. The Thailand National Disease Surveillance Report published on October 1, 2018, reflects a 19 percent increase of Dengue cases in just 1 month.

Mixed reactions to Finance Ministry’s cigarette tax hike  proposal Thai PBS World 3rd Oct 2018
The Finance Ministry’s plan to seek the Cabinet’s approval on a new rise in excise taxes that will result in the retail prices of cigarette being raised by 2 baht per pack has drawn mixed reactions.

FDA seizes ฿30m worth of illegal weight-loss products, food supplements National News Bureau of Thailand 3rd Oct 2018
A large amount of weight-loss products and food supplements containing the banned additive, sibutramine, have been seized during raids on four premises in Bangkok and neighboring provinces on Wednesday (Oct 3)

Thailand police hand over 100 kilos of marijuana for medical research Stuff 27th Sep 2018
Thai police on Tuesday handed over around 100 kilograms of seized marijuana for medical research, as officials seek to produce pot-based medication. Sophon Mekthon, chairman of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, said researchers chose high-quality marijuana from police to conduct medical research, selecting from batches of seized imported marijuana and taking some local strains of cannabis that police had recently confiscated.

Thai healthcare gets a global nod of approval The Nation 24th Sep 2018
The Prime Minister yesterday praised the country for “leapfrogging” the global healthcare efficiency rankings, but health activists called for higher funding to ensure sustainability. "Our healthcare system will be even more efficient if the government ensures enough funding. The government should not view the healthcare system and people’s health as a burden,” Nimit Tien-udom, director of the Aids Access Foundation, said.

Marijuana for Medicinal Use to be Legal ‘Within Eight Months’ in Thailand Chiangrai Times 27th Sep 2018
Thailand’s Governmental Pharmac-eutical Organisation (GPO) has begun researching how to develop medicines from marijuana in acknowledgement of evidence that the outlawed substance has health-enhancing properties. It is also seeking to initiate a legal amendment that would permit cannabis for medicinal use, possibly by May next year.

FDA revokes licences for two brands of mosquito coil Bangkok Post 26th Sep 2018
The Food and Drug Administration has revoked the licences for two brands of mosquito coil after finding unregistered chemicals in the products.

ICT

Police to go high-tech in fight against crime The Myanmar Times 3rd Oct 2018
The police will use more state-of-the-art technology to help ensure the safety of the public, said U Phyo Min Thein, Yangon Region chief minister, during a ceremony to mark the 54th Myanmar Police Force Day, on Monday.

Agencies offer scheme to ease poverty The Nation 2nd Oct 2018
The Office of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC), the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and the Ministry of Science and Technologies have joined up to help alleviate poverty in Thailand. Sarun Sumriddetchkajorn, executive director of NECTEC, said the centre had developed the Thai People Map and Analytics Platform (TPMAP) to pinpoint the problems people in different parts of Thailand are facing.

Blockchain to empower Thailand’s FSI OpenGov 27th Sep 2018
According to a recent report major banking group in Thailand has become the of the country’s financial institutions to join the blockchain pilot programme of a major American multinational financial services corporation, called B2B Connect. B2B Connect is a blockchain based cross-border payment platform. The corporation that created it envisions a system that offers three key capabilities. Firstly, transparency by providing real-time notification and finality of payment for banks and their clients. Secondly, security as a result of cryptographically linked transactions provides an immutable record. And finally, trust as all parties are known and will work on a private blockchain.

MoU on digital trade and investment signed with US Bangkok Post 25th Sep 2018
Thai and US businesses pledged Monday to set up an economic and business promotion committee and partner to promote Thailand's digital economy and Thailand-US digital trade and investment.

Thailand's digital ID bill receives mixed reviews International Association of Privacy Professionals 24th Sep 2018
Thailand’s Digital Identification Bill, which was recently approved by the Cabinet and is expected to be passed by the National Legislative Assembly, has raised concerns for some cyber professionals, The Nation reports. The proposed law would establish a National Digital Identification company to build a technology platform to authenticate digital IDs. While some say it would establish regulations for online ID authentication, which could strengthen cybersecurity, others worry that the collection of personal biometric information managed under a government portal could pose privacy violations. Cyber Lawyer Paiboon Amonpinyokeat said, “The principle of taking care of people’s digital ID should be tied up with the Personal Data Protection Bill.”

Paving the way to digital ID Bangkok Post 24th Sep 2018
Although it could be a boon for Thailand's digital transformation, a draft law allowing government agencies to collect citizens' digital ID has provoked concerns over data security and personal privacy, suggesting the act may be more of a curse than a blessing.

Digital Thailand Big Bang 2018: Dassault Systèmes signs MOU with depa The Nation 20th Sep 2018
The MOU was signed to implement the 3DEXPERIENCE platform in key projects driving agency's 'Digital Thailand' strategic plan for the new 'Thailand 4.0'economic model, the company said in a press statement.

PM prioritises digital upgrade Bangkok Post 20th Sep 2018
Thailand aims to play a key role in driving digital development in Southeast Asia to help reduce inequality, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Wednesday.

Infrastructure

Thailand taps equity market for $1.4 billion infrastructure fund Reuters 28th Sep 2018
The government’s $1.4 billion Thailand Future Fund will open its books to potential investors on Oct. 12, the fund’s financial adviser said on Friday, ahead of what is expected to be the largest public listing since 2015.

Bangkok’s sinking truth The ASEAN Post 28th Sep 2018
For the more or less 10 million people living in Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, flooding is a common and recurring phenomenon. This is partly due to the city’s geographic location at the southern end of the Chao Phraya River Basin, as well as its low-lying terrain of around 1.5 metres average elevation above mean sea level. The city normally experiences six months of rainy season every year from May to October.

Public Works gets lion's share of BMA's Bt80 billion budget The Nation 27th Sep 2018
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's (BMA) Bt80 billion operational budget has been set for the coming year, which starts on October 1. Of all departments under the BMA, the Public Works Department gets the biggest budget with an allocation of Bt9.9 billion.

BMA governor inspects delayed Pattanakarn tunnel project The Nation 27th Sep 2018
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration governor Aswin Kwanmuang on Wednesday inspected the long-delayed vehicle tunnel project on Pattanakarn Road. After being assured that the Pattanakarn-Ramkhamhaeng-Thaworntrat project would be completed by its latest extended deadline of February next year, Aswin told the contractor to temporarily provide more space for traffic during rush hours from December 5.

Manufacturing

US becomes No. 2 scrap aluminum exporter to Thailand after China curbs S&P Global Platts 28th Sep 2018
The US has become the second-largest exporter of scrap aluminum to Thailand in recent months as it searches for alternative buyers outside of China, market sources said Friday. Scrap exports to China from the US, Japan and other countries have fallen dramatically since the Chinese government imposed curbs on low-grade scrap imports earlier this year.

Sadao SEZ to connect rubber city value chain Bangkok Post 27th Sep 2018
The Industry Ministry is upbeat about the unpopular rubber city project in Hat Yai district as it expects to connect with a new special economic zone (SEZ) in Sadao district in the future. The 2,284-rai rubber city was set to begin construction in March 2016.

Travel & Tourism

AoT defends move to build new terminal Bangkok Post 4th Oct 2018
The Transport Ministry has announced Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) has "nothing to prove" in the construction of Suvarnabhumi airport's planned second passenger terminal, following criticism from engineers and architects citing the authority has deviated from the airport's original master plan.

50% drop in Chinese tour groups arriving in Phuket Bangkok Post 3rd Oct 2018
The number of Chinese tour groups arriving in Phuket is down by half over safety worries and serious efforts are needed to restore confidence and bring them back, the Phuket Tourism Association has warned. Association president Phumkit Raktae-ngam said on Wednesday the Phoenix boat tragedy had a major impact on the feelings of Chinese people and had put them off visiting Phuket.

Maya Bay closure draws ire from tour firms Bangkok Post 3rd Oct 2018
The closure of the world-class tourist site, Maya Bay in Krabi, to visitors was extended indefinitely to allow the damaged marine ecosystem to fully recover, drawing immediate protests from tour operators.

Grand tourism plans for EEC The Nation 3rd Oct 2018
Thailand has devised a tourism development plan for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) with a five-year public and private budget of about Bt200 billion. Tourist numbers are expected to surge by 1.5 times within 2021, Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand who also chaired the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB), said after the meeting yesterday.

Controversial public van ban takes effect Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2018
Commuters expressed mixed feelings on the first day of the government's ban on Monday on all public vans older than 10 years. At the capital's main public van stations, such as Muang Thong Thani and Victory Monument, queues of commuters waiting for vans were reported to be longer.

Bangkok tops GDCI for third straight year Bangkok Post 28th Sep 2018
Thailand has continued to see significant growth in the travel sector, making it the only country with three of the top 20 global destination cities, according to the seventh annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI).

Govt mulls plan for 1 visa, 5 cities Bangkok Post 24th Sep 2018
The plan for a single visa for "Five Chiang Cities" will be proposed to spur tourism among four countries in the Mekong Region and add quality tourists to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces of Thailand.