Thailand Update: June 13, 2019

Thailand Update | June 13, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew, Sarina Divan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • June 27, 2019: Euromoney Greater Mekong Investment Forum: Please join us at the Euromoney Greater Mekong Investment forum where this year’s agenda will explore the latest global and regional economic developments, bringing together an audience of over 600 corporate and financial specialists to unravel where the opportunities lie and where the challenges exist for the future in the GMS. The latest speaker line-up can be found here. Please contact Napat Rakkitsiri at napat@usasean.org for additional information.
  • August 14-16, 2019: Please save the date for the Council’s 2019 Thailand Business Mission from August 14-16. Official invitation and registration details to follow. Please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) if you have any questions or to express interest and secure a slot on the mission.
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Prime Minister Prayut Voted as Prime Minister, New Government in Formation 

On June 5, Thailand’s Parliament held its vote for Prime Minister. Current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha won the vote, as the Pro-Prayut coalition (led by the Phalang Pracharath Party and supported by key swing parties such as the Democrats and Bhumjaithai) had an overwhelming majority with 251 of 500 votes in the Lower House and 249 of 250 votes from the Senators (all of whom were appointed by the Prayut administration). The anti-Prayut coalition (led by the Pheu Thai Party and supported by the Future Forward Party) put forward Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit as their Prime Ministerial candidate against Prime Minister Prayut, who was the sole Prime Ministerial candidate for his coalition.  

At this point the pro-Prayut coalition holds a very slim majority in the 500-seat Lower House with 254 seats (see this graphic here outlining the parties and seat counts for the two major coalitions); this does, however, allow Prime Minister Prayut to form a Government. Following the formation of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister and his new Government will need to deliver a policy statement address before all of Parliament, specifically 15 days before they are sworn in and can begin official duties. It is unclear when the Cabinet will be finalized or when this statement will be given; but it is likely that despite the return of Prime Minister Prayut, the Cabinet will look and function very differently from the previous administration, particularly as the Government attempts to sustain the alliances between its multiple coalition parties. For more information, see our Analytical Update here

Thailand’s Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection Acts Published in the Government Gazette 

On May 27, Thailand published two key pieces of legislation, the Personal Data Protection Act (“PDPA”) and the Cybersecurity Act, in the Government Gazette. According to Baker McKenzie, the PDPA defines “personal data” as any data that could be used to directly or indirectly identify a person who is alive, and any use of personal data will require either direct (written) consent or an exemption in line with legitimate interest or legal obligations. Extraterritoriality has been held over from previous drafts, so data controllers and data processors located outside of Thailand will also be subject to PDPA obligations and may be required to designate representatives and data protection officers based in Thailand. 

Also according to Baker McKenzie, the Cybersecurity Act (“the Act”) contains most of the same provisions as the March 11 draft (which was discussed in the Council’s March 14 Update), including the establishment of a National Cybersecurity Committee (NCSC). There are two cases in which private entities will fall under the Act’s obligations: cases of cyber threats and cases where firms are classified as Critical Information Infrastructure Organizations (CII Organizations). Firms regulated by the Act will also be subject to future sub-regulations as dictated by the NCSC. Compliance for both PDPA and the Act will be enforced starting one year from their release date of May 27, 2020. After this date, steep penalties will be imposed for non-compliance. 

The Cybersecurity Act and PDPA are two of the six digital bills designed to implement the Government’s Thailand 4.0 vision, described in the Council’s Febuary 27 Update; however, they may ultimately impede this vision. Though intended to protect consumer privacy and improve national data security standards, these acts could actually impede business development and dampen economic growth. Though previously unprotected data will now be protected by law, there are fears that the broad categories and loose requirements on investigative authorities laid out in these acts may allow businesses to be targeted for reasons other than direct cybersecurity concerns. For more information, see our Analytical Update here
 

IN THIS UPDATE

 
 
Regional Affairs
Guangdong, Thailand sign key agreements
Thailand Aims to Turn the Group's Meetings into a Model of Sustainability
Thailand welcomes relocation from China and Japan

National Affairs
New government faces tough policy choices
Pheu Thai challenges senator selection
Pursuit of welfare policies, stimulus by new govt could delay goal of balancing budget
House, Senate elect Prayut Thailand's new prime minister
Democrats vote to join Palang Pracharath
PPRP pleases small parties with alliance announcement
Opposition alliance to nominate Thanathorn as PM
Provinces ready for local polls
Minority government idea floated

Customs
Customs urged to act on sticky rice smugglers
Thailand Post upgrades air mail delivery to ICAO standards
Thai customs applies technology to improve tax payment, refund systems

Defense & Security
Thailand News: Defense Minister Prawit attends IISS Shangri - La Dialogue 2019
Thailand Gravitates to China for Cheap Arms With No Strings Attached
KAI Secures Thai T-50 Upgrades

Economics
Thailand fears losing $6.7 billion in exports due to latest U.S.-China tariff salvo
Economic woes face Thailand's junta chief turned civilian PM
Thailand seeks restart of trade negotiations with EU
Thailand Sees Threefold Increase In Chinese Companies Looking To Move
Private sector waits for new economic ministers to raise investor confidence
Storm clouds gather over economic view
Rising household debts could impact consumer spending: NESDC
Consumer confidence sinks for three months in a row in May
Stocks rally following Prayut win
Thailand bolsters economy amid US-China trade tensions

Energy
Energy Ministry has high hopes for solar scheme
Malaysia's Petronas set to supply Thailand's EGAT its first LNG imports

Food & Agriculture
China's cheap rice threatens Thai exports
Fishing restrictions to return to Thai Gulf
Thailand takes measures to prevent African swine fever
Big agribusiness rushes to cash in on Fall Armyworm
Thailand showcases Innovative agricultural products
UN agencies urge stronger efforts to stop illegal fishing

Health & Life Sciences
Extra doses of MMR vaccine approved to help eliminate measles in Thailand
Draft Political Declaration Outlines Leaders' Commitments on UHC

ICT
Thailand outlines outstanding projects expected to drive digital economy
Digital economy ministry calls for data protection officers
Taking care of intellectual property generated by employees
Govt to propose trio of 'smart cities'
Rules Published for 700MHz Spectrum, Telecom License Purchasing Decision Likely Soon
Lobby group warns NBTC over potential 5G auction pitfalls
Study: Thais ready for 5G provider jump
Our growing data dependence brings risks
Cybercrime targets finance sector
Startups wait for next move up

Infrastructure
Thailand News: New dual track train line to slash travel time between Bangkok, Hua Hin and southern Thailand
Thailand promotes traffic connection with Laos
ADB awards $311m funding for two Bangkok Metro lines
Grab electric tuk tuks launch in Chiang Mai

Travel & Tourism
Thai-Myanmar pact to boost cross-border transport
US remains top source of Thailand's hotel guests
Cambodia and Thailand discuss railway transport
TAT targets Eastern European market in bid to boost yacht tourism
Thailand leads Southeast Asian countries with 66 JCI-accredited hospitals
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Guangdong, Thailand sign key agreements Bangkok Post 10th Jun 2019
Thailand and China’s Guangdong province have agreed to cooperate at all levels, including investment, trade, tourism, education and science and technology development. The agreement was reached on Monday while Li Xi, the governor of Guangdong, led 208 executives from 146 local companies to meet Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said the agreement will help enhance the economic development of both sides. Guangdong, which lies on the South China Sea coast, has led China in provincial GDP for almost 30 years. Last year it recorded year-on-year economic growth of 6.8% to 9.73 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion). The province is also an important export market for Thailand, accounting for 30% of Thai shipments to the mainland. Guangdong has as well many unicorn companies such as Huawei and Tencent, which are the leaders in innovation and high technology. Two-way trade between Thailand and Guangdong totalled US$24 billion. Thai investment in Guangdong amounted to $650 million while Guangdong’s investment in Thailand was worth $573 million. Mr Somkid said Guangdong investors had not questioned Thai politics, saying China will always be Thailand’s ally no matter what happens. With Gen Prayut as the prime minister, he believed it will help build up confidence among foreign investors that there will be continuity of key policies.

Thailand Aims to Turn the Group's Meetings into a Model of Sustainability PR Newswire 10th Jun 2019
As the 2019 Chairman of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Kingdom of Thailand is rallying support for a raft of initiatives to promote better stewardship of our planet and its resources. Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that commitment starts with the approach to organizing ASEAN's meetings. Thailand will host over 250 meetings among the ten Member States and Dialogue Partners. As a core part of "Advancing Partnership for Sustainability" -- the theme Thailand has chosen for its term as Chairman -- Thailand will apply sustainable practices wherever and whenever possible.

Thailand welcomes relocation from China and Japan Thailand Business News 10th Jun 2019
The Thai government has ordered the Board of Investment (BoI) to actively attract foreign investors who plan to move out of China, especially Japanese ones hit by the US – China trade war. The Bangkok Post on June 3 quoted Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatuspripitak as saying that high-tech industries like IT and electronics are likely to move out of China amid the heightened trade row between China and the US. Nearly 75% of the 250 companies that responded to the group’s survey said the recent tariff hikes by the US and China were having a negative effect on their business.

National Affairs

New government faces tough policy choices Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2019
More than 100 billion baht a year is needed to fund welfare schemes vowed by the new government, according to Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) estimates. The actual welfare spending, however, will hinge on the coalition government's final decisions, taking into account the available budget and the scope of assistance provided, said director-general Lavaron Sangsnit.

Pheu Thai challenges senator selection Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2019
The Pheu Thai Party has questioned the status of 250 senators after finding an order naming the panel appointing them was not published in the Royal Gazette. Party spokeswoman Ladawan Wongsriwong said on Tuesday she and the spokespersons of six other parties in the anti-regime alliance jointly submitted a petition to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which is constitutionally responsible for appointing the senators. This was the second time they asked the junta to disclose who appointed the 250 senators and how much they spent on the process.The first request received no response. 

Pursuit of welfare policies, stimulus by new govt could delay goal of balancing budget The Nation 10th Jun 2019
The goal of achieving a balanced budget is likely to be postponed should the new coalition government aggressively implement welfare policies and push economic stimulus packages, an official at the Finance Ministry said. Thailand has run fiscal deficits for many years since the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Even in recent times, the junta-backed government ran fiscal deficits of Bt552.9 billion, Bt550 billion and Bt450 billion in fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. In order to maintain fiscal sustainability, the Finance Ministry has a plan to achieve a balanced budget by 2030.

House, Senate elect Prayut Thailand's new prime minister Bangkok Post 5th Jun 2019
MPs and senators overwhelmingly voted for Prayut Chan-o-cha to be prime minister of Thailand late on Wednesday night. Gen Prayut will be the head of a coalition government led by the Palang Pracharath Party. The combined members of the House of Representatives and Senate cast 500 votes for Gen Prayut, well ahead of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit's 244 and enough to elect the former junta leader as the 29th prime minister of Thailand.

Democrats vote to join Palang Pracharath Bangkok Post 4th Jun 2019
The Democrat Party has voted overwhelmingly to join the Palang Pracharath alliance, sealing the deal for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to continue as prime minister and for the pro-regime party to form a government with a slim majority of 254 votes. Democrat party executives and MPs voted 61-16 to join the coalition in a secret ballot at its head office on Tuesday evening, with two abstentions and one bad ballot. Minutes before the vote, Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit pleaded with the Democrats and Bhumjaithai Party to rethink their position during a Facebook Live session. He said there was still time and the pair could help him stop the continuation of power by the junta.

PPRP pleases small parties with alliance announcement Bangkok Post 4th Jun 2019
The Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) on Tuesday officially announced a commitment from small parties to support its campaign to form a new government with Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister. PPRP declared the alliance with the Action Coalition for Thailand, Chartthaipattana, Palang Thongthin Thai, Thai Forest and Land Reclamation, and People Reform parties. The five small parties have a combined 14 votes in Parliament, while PPRP has 116 seats.

Opposition alliance to nominate Thanathorn as PM Bangkok Post 4th Jun 2019
The anti-military alliance will on Wednesday nominate Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit as prime minister in a face-off against Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Future Forward Party (FFP) spokeswoman said. The scheduled vote for a new prime minister comes five years after then-army chief Gen Prayut seized power from an elected government in 2014. Mr Thanathorn entered politics just last year and his party came in third in elections in March.

Provinces ready for local polls Bangkok Post 3rd Jun 2019
The Election Commission (EC) is asking all provincial election commissions to prepare for new local elections, according to copies of the EC's order received by local election regulators. The election commission of every province is required to begin working together with local administrative bodies in preparing equipment required for an election before Sept 1, according to a letter from the commission dated May 27.

Minority government idea floated Bangkok Post 1st Jun 2019
As political parties rush to cobble together a coalition with a majority in the House ahead of the vote for prime minister on Wednesday, a senator and an MP are floating the idea of a minority government, which they say is accommodated by the 2017 constitution. Their basic idea is to get the junta-appointed Senate to vote alongside elected MPs on all key issues to address any obstacle as there are constitutional provisions that allow it, they say.  Paiboon Nitawan, a party-list MP with the People Reform Party, one of the 10 microparties whose popular vote was below the threshold, said on Friday the political situation had not yet reached a deadlock.

Customs

Customs urged to act on sticky rice smugglers Bangkok Post 9th Jun 2019
The Internal Trade Department is urging border security and customs officers to crack down on the smuggling of unmilled glutinous rice by traders who want to profit off the high price of the commodity in the domestic market. Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the department, said most of the smuggled glutinous rice comes from Vietnam via Cambodia, before making its way across the border in Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi and Buri Ram provinces.

Thailand Post upgrades air mail delivery to ICAO standards Port Calls Asia 12th Jun 2019
Thailand Post said it has upgraded its air mail delivery system and launched what it claimed is the world’s first regulated postal authority that meets the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) standard. Thailand Post president Samorn Therdthamphiboon said the authority has a certificate for air mail transport services from the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) that upgrades the Suvarnabhumi Postal Center as the world’s first regulated postal authority that screens for unsafe and prohibited items. The Suvarnabhumi mail center meets international security standards and is certified by the CAAT in accordance with requirements prescribed by the ICAO, reported the National News Bureau of Thailand.

Thai customs applies technology to improve tax payment, refund systems Asia Customs & Trade 10th Jun 2019
The Customs Department of Thailand said it is striving to implement technology that will provide greater convenience for companies in paying tax or receiving tax refunds, as it noted its tax collections have so far exceeded targets despite current U.S.-China trade tensions. The Customs Department’s principal advisor on customs control development, Chaiyut Kumkun, said the department, in compliance with the World Customs Organization’s guidelines to implement the World Trade Organization’s trade facilitation agreement, is promoting the integration of processes and the cooperation of customs and other agencies related to goods imports and exports.

Defense & Security

Thailand News: Defense Minister Prawit attends IISS Shangri - La Dialogue 2019 ThaiVisa News 3rd Jun 2019
At a bilateral discussion during the IISS Shangri - La Dialogue 2019 in Singapore, Thai Defense Minister has agreed to promote military cooperation with the US Defense Secretary and the Singaporean Defense Minister... After Gen. Prawit had a bilateral discussion with Mr. Patrick Shanahan, both sides approved of and confirmed promoting closer relations and strengthening mutual military cooperation this year in terms of training, education, research and development and exchanging military personnel especially the cooperation on the ASEAN - US Maritime Exercise which will be held in Thailand and the cooperation on co-chairing the maritime security expert working group.

Thailand Gravitates to China for Cheap Arms With No Strings Attached Chiang Rai Times 3rd Jun 2019
In Thailand, Washington’s loss is often Beijing’s gain, and the Thai military might be seen as the latest example. Since the country’s 2014 coup, Thai-China military ties have gone from strength to strength. America’s negative response to the armed takeover saw the administration of former US president Barack Obama cut US$4.8 million in financing for Bangkok’s acquisition of US defense equipment, services and training. Washington also cancelled or downsized joint military exercises. Amid the cooling ties, Thailand’s ruling junta sought out China to fill the void. Sensing an opportunity to increase its influence in the kingdom and undermine the US-Thai alliance, China responded positively, just as it has done with many other nations in similar situations.

KAI Secures Thai T-50 Upgrades Aviation International News 3rd Jun 2019
Korea Aircraft Industries (KAI) has been awarded a $52 million contract to upgrade the Royal Thai Air Force’s (RTAF) fleet of T-50TH Golden Eagle trainer jets to include enhanced sensor and countermeasure capabilities. The deal was inked between Kim Jo-won, president and CEO of KAI, and Air Chief Marshal of the RTAF, Bhanupong Seyayongka, in Seoul, South Korea. Indonesia also opted for a similar upgrade in a deal signed at the Indo Defence trade show in Jakarta in November 2018. However, Indonesia’s upgrade will also include its T-50 fleet being integrated with a gun capability, while the Thai fleet already carries this. AIN understands that the RTAF has also integrated and certified bombs on its T-50s. 

Economics

Thailand fears losing $6.7 billion in exports due to latest U.S.-China tariff salvo Reuters 12th Jun 2019
Thailand could lose between $5.6 billion to $6.7 billion in exports this year as a result of higher U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, with shipments of electronics and automobiles expected to decline sharply, the Thai commerce ministry said on Tuesday. Like other export-focused Asian economies, Thailand has been caught in the crossfire of a trade war between the United States, its largest export market, and its second largest, China. The tariff war has sent a chill through firms from Thailand and other third countries that form part of the supply chains for Chinese exporters, Pimchanok Vonkhorporn, a commerce ministry official said.

Economic woes face Thailand's junta chief turned civilian PM Reuters 12th Jun 2019
Thailand’s junta chief-turned-civilian prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha faces a tough task in reviving a faltering economy and sinking investor confidence - the same problems as when he seized power in a military coup five years ago. Prayuth was confirmed as prime minister by parliament on Wednesday but he will be leading a fragile 19-party coalition with only a four-seat majority in the House of Representatives. That raises concerns about passing legislation and the budget that could disrupt public spending on much-needed larger investment projects and keep investors away.

Thailand seeks restart of trade negotiations with EU The Nation 11th Jun 2019
Thai trade officials have been juggling for a negotiating slot with the EU, after talks for a Thai-EU FTA were halted back in 2014 following the military coup. Thai and EU trade officials will meet today in Brussels, Belgium to discuss the possibility of revitalising the talks. However, as Thailand is in the process of forming a new government, specific details related to a potential trade deal will not be discussed at the upcoming meeting, said Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN). Thailand is preparing for official negotiations to begin in the second half of this year, she said.

Thailand Sees Threefold Increase In Chinese Companies Looking To Move Forbes 10th Jun 2019
Thailand's Board of Investment said that they have received a threefold increase in the number of applications from Chinese businesses looking to relocate their supply chain to other Asian countries. While some of this can be chalked up as a relatively new phenomenon in China due to rising costs and regulations there, others are looking to set up shop in Thailand to avoid current tariffs, or future ones.

Private sector waits for new economic ministers to raise investor confidence The Thaiger 10th Jun 2019
The private sector says they’re waiting to see the new ministers emerge from the current negotiations that will be in charge of economic portfolios, who may raise the confidence of investors. Meanwhile, the Consumer Confidence Index was at 77.7 in for the month of May, the lowest in 19 months. Thanawat Pholvichai, director of University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Economics and Business Forecasting, said a new cabinet is expected before the end of this month following the recent election of a prime minister last Wednesday. In particular, private investors are hoping the economic ministers will adjust policy to raise investors’ confidence.

Storm clouds gather over economic view Bangkok Post 10th Jun 2019
Caught in the crossfire between a trade spat of the world's superpowers and marred by lacklustre confidence at home, Thailand's economy faces an uphill task to resuscitate growth in the second half. Although the stock market has been performing well after Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha retained his premiership in last week's parliamentary vote, the main drivers of economic growth are signalling weakness. High household debt and low farm prices have kept a lid on private consumption, while private investment has been nothing but dust in the wind as confidence remains shrouded by political uncertainty and the slow progress of public investment projects.

Rising household debts could impact consumer spending: NESDC The Nation 7th Jun 2019
Household debts are on the rise and could suppress consumer spending as well as people’s ability to repay their debts, the state think-tank National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) warned yesterday. Household debt in the fourth quarter of last year rose 6 per cent to Bt12.8 trillion or equivalent to 78.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Debts in the first quarter of this year have been on the rise as consumer loans have hit a 10.1 per cent increase, a record high in five years, NESDC secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisumphand said. 

Consumer confidence sinks for three months in a row in May The Nation 7th Jun 2019
Thailand's political situation, the US-China trade war and low agricultural product prices have dragged down confidence of Thai consumers to its low in 19 months, according to University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the university’s Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting, said that Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) in May headed down in a third straight month, sliding from 79.2 to 77.7, the lowest in 19 months since November 2017. The decline of the index for the past three months, from March to May, reflected downtrend of the Thai economy with no clear signal of a recovery. 

Stocks rally following Prayut win Bangkok Post 7th Jun 2019
Thai stocks rallied on Thursday after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha won a parliamentary vote to reclaim the premiership on Wednesday night, an event seen as reducing anxiety surrounding policy changes when the new government takes office. The bourse closed at 1,653.41 points, up 4.95 or 0.3% from Wednesday's finish, in turnover worth 49.9 billion baht. The local stock market has garnered a boost of confidence with the new coalition government set to form and the same leader in charge, while economic policies are expected to continue, said Kavee Chukitkasem, deputy managing director of Kasikorn Securities.

Thailand bolsters economy amid US-China trade tensions VietnamPlus 4th Jun 2019
The Finance Ministry of Thailand will propose extra fiscal measures to boost the domestic economy that has been adversely affected by falling exports. Director-general at the Thai Fiscal Policy Office Lavaron Sangsnit on June 4 said officials of the ministry have been working to come up with a stimulus package, as the Thai economy is projected to slow down in the second half of this year. The stimulus package will be aimed at boosting consumption among low-income groups as they have a tendency to spend all the money that government puts into the economic lifeline, he said. 

Energy

Energy Ministry has high hopes for solar scheme Bangkok Post 6th Jun 2019
The Energy Ministry expects the solar power project for household rooftops to achieve its projection of 15,000 participants by year-end thanks to the popularity of the trend globally and declining investment costs in the sector. The number of households using solar power has increased significantly since the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) opened its household solar power scheme last month, with plans to buy electricity from individual producers of up to 100 megawatts this year at 1.68 baht per kilowatt-hour. Since it started on May 24 some 1,200 households have participated in the programme.

Malaysia's Petronas set to supply Thailand's EGAT its first LNG imports The Business Times 6th Jun 2019
Malaysia's state oil and gas company Petronas has been selected to supply Thailand's state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, a company spokesman told Reuters on Thursday. Petronas has been selected out of 12 short-listed companies that also included Qatargas, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron Corp, Total SA and Japan's Marubeni Corp . Petronas and EGAT are still negotiating the terms of the contract, and EGAT is negotiating how much it will pay Thailand's PTT, an EGAT spokesman said.

Food & Agriculture

China's cheap rice threatens Thai exports Bangkok Post 12th Jun 2019
Thai rice exporters are fretting over their prospects this year as China looks set to ramp up its rice shipments, notably to Africa. China produces an estimated 120 million tonnes of rice each year and is likely to raise exports to 3 million tonnes of aged grains this year from 1.5-2 million tonnes last year, said Chookiat Ophaswongse, honorary president of Thai Rice Exporters Association. Africa is a potential target market for China now that consumers there are in the habit of eating aged rice, he said. China’s 5% white rice is quoted at US$300 (9,370 baht) a tonne, while similar grains from Thailand are quoted at $390, those from Vietnam at $360 and those from India at $370.

Fishing restrictions to return to Thai Gulf Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2019
Fishing will be banned in part of the Gulf of Thailand for over three months, or from June to September, to allow marine species to recover their numbers, breed and nurture their young. Fishing will be strictly regulated in parts of the area known as the "ko shaped gulf", the upper part of the gulf which resembles the symbol "ko", the first letter of the Thai alphabet. This section is skirted by eight coastal provinces -- Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao and Chon Buri. The restrictions will take effect from Jun 15 to Aug 15 off the coasts of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon, while the coasts of Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao and Chon Buri will be closed from Aug 1 to Sept 30. The Department of Fisheries has decided to enforce rules limiting fishing off these provinces again after similar measures last year resulted in an increase in marine species stocks.

Thailand takes measures to prevent African swine fever Saigon Online 11th Jun 2019
Chief of the Livestock Development Department Sorawit Thaneto said the department is working with other agencies to stay alert against the outbreak of African swine fever, which has spread from Europe and Africa to three Asian countries such as China, Mongolia and Vietnam. Thai travellers to neighbouring countries are warned against bringing processed pork like fermented pork and sausages back home. Police and livestock officials on June 8 raided a house in Bangkok where they found 558 frozen pigs weighing 1,400 kg in two refrigerated rooms. The seizure has sparked fears of the outbreak as the meat is believed to have been smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Big agribusiness rushes to cash in on Fall Armyworm Down To Earth 11th Jun 2019
As the pest spreads to Southeast Asia, big brands are coming up with pesticides; experts, however, advise caution The spread of the Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) or FAW, the invasive pest from the Americas, to Africa, and finally to South and Southeast Asia, has created a rush among big agriculture companies to promote their chemical pesticide products. With the arrival of the worm in Thailand in December 2018, Monsanto, the American agrochemical company, has already held a meeting with Thai authorities earlier this year. Now, Corteva Agriscience, the agricultural division of DowDuPont, another American chemical company, is also trying to push its products.    At a meeting held by Corteva Agriscience in Bangkok on May 22-23, 2019, as part of the FAW educational programme, the plant and protection research and development officer of Thailand’s agriculture ministry, senior entomologist, SaruteSudhi-Aromna put forth a list of nine chemical sprays that the Thai authorities have recommended for use against FAW. Three among them are manufactured by Corteva Agriscience.

Thailand showcases Innovative agricultural products Thailand Business News 5th Jun 2019
BANGKOK (NNT) – The Department of Foreign Trade has been promoting innovative agricultural products development through the Institute for Agricultural Product Innovation. Now, with some 700 new products developed, the institute is ready to join hands with major retailers to sell these products to customers. Some 60 innovative agricultural products, including foods and non-food health and beauty products, have been selected by the Agricultural Product Innovation (APi) from 16 manufacturers and are now featured at APi Festival at Big C event at Big C Ratchadamri shopping center in Bangkok to expand marketing opportunities for these products at modern shopping centers, and raising the awareness of these products among Thai people and tourists.

UN agencies urge stronger efforts to stop illegal fishing Washington Post 5th Jun 2019
BANGKOK — Major United Nations agencies are urging key fishing nations to join efforts to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and other groups made the call at a conference in Bangkok on Wednesday focused on helping protect fisheries and those working in the industry. Thailand is the world’s biggest importer of tuna. It has one of the seven state-of-the-art centers in the region monitoring fishing vessels in real time to help control access to regional ports and curb illegal fishing. The centers are helping enforce the Port State Measures Agreement, which aims to help curb illegal, unreported and unregulated — or IUU — fishing. Dozens of governments have joined but U.N. officials are urging more to support the effort.

Health & Life Sciences

Extra doses of MMR vaccine approved to help eliminate measles in Thailand The Thaiger 9th Jun 2019
The National Health Security Office has approved 100,000 additional doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to help reduce, and hopefully eradicate, the current rise of measles cases in Thailand. The additional doses of the vaccine will be handed over to the Department of Disease Control in August and will target Thai children aged under seven and adults living in large groups – such as prisons, military camps and factories.

Draft Political Declaration Outlines Leaders' Commitments on UHC International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) 10th Jun 2019
The zero draft of a political declaration on universal health coverage is under consideration by UN Member States. The text highlights health as a right and stresses the importance of health for “all the goals and targets” of the 2030 Agenda. The draft was expected to be presented to governments on 21 May, discussed at informal consultations on 28 May, and considered further through informal consultations in June and early July. The UN General Assembly (UNGA) will hold a high-level meeting on UHC on 23 September 2019, mandated to result in a political declaration. The Permanent Representatives of Georgia and Thailand circulated a zero draft of the declaration on 17 May, titled ‘Universal Health Coverage: Moving together to build a healthier world.’ At nine pages long and 66 paragraphs, the text sets out 13 areas for action. The action areas include: accelerate high-impact interventions; health financing; strengthen primary health care (PHC); quality and affordable access to medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and health technologies; governance and participatory approach; strong health and social workforce; promoting the use of technologies, innovation and data; mainstreaming gender, equity and human rights; and UHC in fragile situations and health security.

ICT

Thailand outlines outstanding projects expected to drive digital economy Channel Asia Singapore 12th Jun 2019
Thailand’s ministry of digital affairs has laid out 10 outstanding projects across five broad themes that aim to drive the country towards a modern economy and society. The government aims to spearhead change across the country, particularly in remote areas, to create economic value and opportunities for all. As such, the government is looking to invest 45,000 million baht (US$1.44 billion) over the next four years to grow the digital economy.

Digital economy ministry calls for data protection officers Bangkok Post 11th Jun 2019
The Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry is calling for mandatory appointments of data protection officers (DPOs) at every organisation that processes or stores personal data from EU citizens to comply with the nation's Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Running afoul of the GDPR could mean the EU imposing heavy fines on companies outside the bloc that handle the data of EU citizens. Only half of big corporations in Thailand have been preparing their operations to deal with implementation of the data protection regime, said Chayathawatch Atibaedya, senior adviser to the DE Ministry.

Taking care of intellectual property generated by employees Bangkok Post 10th Jun 2019
Intellectual property (IP), such as trademarks, copyrighted works, designs, inventions and trade secrets, is a valuable asset for many companies. It brings with it market advantages and distinguishes one company’s business from another’s. Hence, it is important for company management to recognize and manage their IP portfolios properly. As a company’s IP is generally created or invented by its employees, prudent employers should arrange for the necessary agreements to ensure that any such IP belongs to them.

Govt to propose trio of 'smart cities' Bangkok Post 8th Jun 2019
Thailand will propose Bangkok, Phuket and Sri Racha as smart cities at the upcoming Asean Smart Cities Network (ASCN) meeting in August. "As a tourist destination, Phuket can be an example of a smart city that uses innovation to promote and develop local tourism. Chonburi's Sri Racha will be a centre of innovation. As for Bangkok, we will develop Bang Sue station into a mobility hub..." Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, president of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa), told media at a press conference.

Rules Published for 700MHz Spectrum, Telecom License Purchasing Decision Likely Soon The Nation 7th Jun 2019
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will put up for sale three 700MHz spectrum slots, each priced at Bt17.584 billion. Each slot will have a 10MHz bandwidth. The licence term will be 15 years and the payments can be divided into 10 instalments. The sale of the three slots is related to the junta’s recent approval of relief measures to ease the financial burden of Thailand’s three 900MHz telecom operators, Advanced Info Service, Total Access Communication (DTAC), and True Corp.

Lobby group warns NBTC over potential 5G auction pitfalls Bangkok Post 7th Jun 2019
Thailand should not repeat its mistakes by trying to maximise revenue for 5G spectrum, which could risk harming consumers and inefficiently using a scarce resource, warns a report by the mobile operator lobbying group GSMA. "Auctions can and do fail when poorly designed," said Brett Tarnutzer, head of spectrum at GSMA.

Study: Thais ready for 5G provider jump Bangkok Post 5th Jun 2019
Half of smartphone users in Thailand would switch mobile operators within six months to one that offered 5G wireless services if their own provider did not offer the technology, according to a recent report. Some 40% of respondents expect Thailand to switch to 5G within the next year, according to the study carried out by Ericsson Consumer Lab. The study was conducted in March, drawing on 35,000 respondents from 22 countries, of which 1,500 respondents were Thais.

Our growing data dependence brings risks The Nation 1st Jun 2019
While these discussions have proved insightful and, in many cases, improved business knowledge and value – they have overlooked one critical aspect. Our growing dependence on the data around us. Many of the other aspects of data have been viewed as a choice. A sort of ‘take it or leave it”. That is not the case with dependency. We are all increasingly dependent on data. And as more and more devices become connected to the internet that dependency, and the implications for all of us, will also increase.

Cybercrime targets finance sector The Nation 1st Jun 2019
The information was released by deputy head of the Government Information Security Commission Nguyen Dang Dao at an international conference themed “Security World 2019” held in Hanoi on Wednesday. At the conference, participants focused on Vietnam’s cybersecurity and solutions to strengthen data protection in the public and finance-banking sectors. Major General Dao said that cyber-attacks, espionage and cybercrime had been on the increase resulting in the theft of state secrets and the destruction of information systems.

Startups wait for next move up The Nation 1st Jun 2019
Panachit Kittipanya-ngam, president of the Thailand Tech Startup Association, said that more startups turned from B2C to B2B organisations to offer business and service technology services. Those vertical tech startups are growing. especially in the education, travel and health business, Panachit said. In 2018, more corporate venture capital (CVC) funds were established, and there were more seed and series A investments – with funding mainly from CVCs. 

Infrastructure

Thailand News: New dual track train line to slash travel time between Bangkok, Hua Hin and southern Thailand ThaiVisa News 10th Jun 2019
The new line, which is currently under construction and will replace the existing single track line, will be a boon for business, tourism and will help to reduce travel time for passengers, SRT acting governor Worawut Mala told the media this weekend. Once all phases are completed, the new dual track will enable passengers to travel from the new Bang Sue station in Bangkok to destinations such as Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Bang Saphan Noi, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Songkhla and then onto Padang Besar on the Malaysian border. Trains will travel at 160 km/h, meaning passengers leaving Bangkok can be in Hua Hin in just two or three hours, Mr Worawut said, adding that it can often take the best part of four to five hours to complete the same journey by car.

Thailand promotes traffic connection with Laos vietnamplus.vn 6th Jun 2019
Thailand is accelerating the implementation of many infrastructure projects in the northeast to connect with Laos. The first project is the 6th Thailand-Laos friendship bridge, connecting Ubon Ratchathani province of Thailand with Salawan province of Laos. Thai media quoted Minister of Transport Arkhom Termpittayapaisith as saying that the Thai cabinet on June 4 allowed the Department of Highways to build the bridge.

ADB awards $311m funding for two Bangkok Metro lines Railway Technology 6th Jun 2019
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has sanctioned a THB9.9bn ($311m) fund to support the construction and subsequent operation of the Pink and Yellow lines for Bangkok’s mass rapid transit (MRT) system. ADB signed the financing agreement with BTS Group Holdings Public Company, the operator of the metro rail system in Bangkok, Thailand. The total financial package will be divided equally between the Northern Bangkok Monorail Company (NBM) and the Eastern Bangkok Monorail Company (EBM).

Grab electric tuk tuks launch in Chiang Mai The Thaiger 5th Jun 2019
Grab, the nemesis of the old taxi and red bus network in Chiang Mai, has signed an agreement with government and private sector partners to establish the Chiang Mai Smart Mobility Alliance Network. It is the first such partnership in South East Asia. Thai aim is to reduce Chiang Mai’s public transport footprint by 35% within the next five years. The goal is to replace 450 LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) Tuk Tuks with electric versions as soon as this year. Grab has launched the region’s first Grab ‘TukTuk Electric’ to allow locals and tourists to easily book transport through the Grab app.

Travel & Tourism

Thai-Myanmar pact to boost cross-border transport Bangkok Post 1st Jun 2019
Thailand and Myanmar expect to have cars travelling on three routes between both countries this September, in a move set to bolster the regional economy. Each country will be granted 100 licences for their transport operators, who can drive hundreds of kilometres into the inner areas of the countries, including to Yangon and a port near the Thilawa Special Economic Zone in Myanmar, and Bangkok and Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri, Land Transport Department chief Phiraphon Thawonsuphacharoen said on Friday.

US remains top source of Thailand's hotel guests Bangkok Post 13th Jun 2019
The US is still the largest feeder market to Thai hotels, while China has surpassed Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea for second place, according to a report by Expedia Group. Demand for hotels from Americans has grown by 20% year-on-year. Another rising country is India, which breached the top 10 list of feeders to Thai hotels this year.

Cambodia and Thailand discuss railway transport Tourism of Cambodia 10th Jun 2019
Cambodia and Thailand have recently begun negotiations on the cross border transportation of people and goods after their railways where connected in April. The countries still need to negotiate the procedures for carrying out customs checks at the border.

TAT targets Eastern European market in bid to boost yacht tourism Bangkok Post 8th Jun 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) aims to increase yacht tourism from Europe, especially from landlocked Eastern European countries. Srisuda Wanapinyosak, deputy governor of international marketing for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas at the TAT, said yacht tourism is growing and Phuket is a hot destination. The agency also plans to use marketing promotions to attract arrivals from emerging markets in Africa and South America that have no direct flights to Thailand.

Thailand leads Southeast Asian countries with 66 JCI-accredited hospitals Thailand Business News 3rd Jun 2019
A totally of 70 carefully-selected buyers from 23 countries have been invited to participate in this year’s “Amazing Thailand Health & Wellness Trade Meet 2019” organised by Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on 30 May, 2019, at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. Thailand now has 66 JCI-accredited hospitals, more than any other Southeast Asian country and ranked the top fourth in the world after Saudi Arabia, China and the UAE. Specialising in various aspects of health, wellness and medical tourism, the buyers will meet with 40 Thai sellers ranging from hospitals and beauty institutes to anti-aging experts. Thailand is one of the world’s most popular health and wellness tourism destinations, ranging from prevention to cure. While the numbers from the long-standing source markets in the Gulf countries are tapering off, new business is emerging from places; such as, Myanmar, Australia and Russia.