Thailand Update: July 11, 2019

Thailand Update | July 11, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew, and Sarina Divan
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

August 13-16: 2019 Thailand Business Mission 

The US-ASEAN Business Council is now registering executives for its 2019 Thailand Business Mission from August 13-16. Details for two Mission planning calls will be forthcoming. Click here to register, and please contact with Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) if you have any questions.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

New Cabinet Ministers Appointed, Government to Balance Various Coalition Party Policy Priorities

On July 10, the Royal Gazette published the Cabinet lineup for the new civilian government of Thailand, nearly 110 days after the general election. As predicted, ministerial seats were allocated to key parties in the pro-Prayut coalition, including the leading Palang Pracharath Party, the Democrat Party, and the Bhumjaithai Party. As reported by the Bangkok Post, Prime Minister Prayut will now serve as both the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister. General Prawit Wongsuwon, Somkid Jatusripitak, and Wissanu Krea-ngam from the former National Council for Peace and Order will continue on as Deputy Prime Ministers in the new Cabinet. In addition, the leaders of the Democrat and Bhumjaithai Parties have been appointed as Deputy Prime Ministers and will lead the Ministries of Commerce and Public Health, respectively. Also, according to the Bangkok Post, the Deputy Prime Ministers’ additional portfolios are subject to change from the previous administration. In particular, Dr. Somkid will no longer manage the entire economic portfolio, and each Deputy Prime Minister will now oversee the Ministries that their party leads.

The Palang Pracharath Party will control the majority of the Ministries, including: Culture; Digital Economy and Society; Education; Energy; Finance; Foreign Affairs; Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation; Interior; Industry; and Justice. In addition to the Commerce Ministry, Democrats have been appointed to lead the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. Beyond the Public Health Ministry, the Bhumjaithai Party will also lead the Transport along with the Tourism and Sports Ministries. Smaller parties in the coalition have also gained ministerial seats. In particular, the Chartthaipattana Party will lead the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, and the Action Coalition for Thailand will control the Ministry of Labor. Furthermore, the Prime Minister’s Office Minister is from the Chartpattana party. For a complete list of Ministers and Deputies with party affiliations, please click here or here.

After having received royal endorsement in the Royal Gazette, the new Cabinet will next need to be sworn in and deliver a policy statement in front of Parliament. This must take place 15 days before the Government can assume official duties. Developing a comprehensive policy statement and agenda that captures the core election platforms of each party in the coalition will be the next challenge facing the new coalition Government. To see the main components of key coalition parties’ platforms, please click here. The welfare policies of the Palang Pracharath Party are likely to be debated, such as the welfare card policy and benefits for expectant mothers; however, the party’s proposed minimum wage increase is likely to be a lower priority. Additionally, agriculture price increases will be an important point of discussion, as this issue is a key component of both the Palang Pracharath Party and Democrat Party’s platforms. The Democrats are also expected to push for income and crop price guarantees, charter amendments, and decentralization of government power to local administrative organizations. Meanwhile, the Bhumjaithai Party will likely promote the legalization of medical cannabis, especially since it now controls the Ministry of Public Health. Other coalition parties, such as the Chartthaipattana Party, have also sent their main policy priorities to coalition leaders, though it is unclear what these are at the moment. The varying interests of pro-Prayut coalition parties will certainly need to be reflected in the policy statement delivered later this month and are set to play an important role in the actions of the new administration.

Digital ID Services to be Implemented in Thailand This Year

Digital ID services are scheduled to be enacted by royal decree before the end of 2019, with a public hearing slated for mid-July and plans to send a draft for Cabinet approval by August, according to Surangkana Wayuparb, Executive Director and Chief Executive of the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA). The digital ID bill, which regulates the management of digital ID services and aims to mitigate associated trust and security issues, is one of six key digital bills that the outgoing Minister of Digital Economy and Society hoped to enact. Only two of the six bills have passed so far, which include the Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection Bills. For more information on these bills, see our recent ICT Analytical Update here. Further regulations for services related to digital IDs, such as fingerprint and facial recognition technology, are expected to follow the implementation of the digital ID bill. Digital ID services are poised to advance Thailand’s digital economy, particularly by enabling verification of users’ online identity and reducing the potential for fraudulent activities in online transactions. This digital ID infrastructure is crucial in ensuring reliability, speed, and security for payment and banking services, as well as government services such as healthcare.

This development comes after the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) hosted the 1st Thailand Digital ID Symposium 2019 on June 28, in collaboration with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and other government agencies and private companies. Experts from Estonia, India, Singapore, and Malaysia convened in Bangkok to discuss the digital ID services offered in their respective countries. These attendees, as well as specialists from the World Bank, highlighted the benefits of innovative digital ID services, which Thailand stands to reap once these services are enacted.

The mid-July consultation will be critical as the first opportunity for public access to the draft bill. It will be important for ETDA to have flexibility in its proposed August deadline for Cabinet submission should the July consultation call for substantial changes to the bill, particularly from industry stakeholders. ETDA has demonstrated this flexibility in its consultations for the Personal Data Protection Bill, though some industry stakeholders still maintain concerns about certain provisions in the bill (see Analytical Update linked above). Transparently and effectively finalizing and implementing the digital bills will certainly be a top priority for the new Government, and the digital ID bill will be an important piece to this.

New Special Economic Zones to Support Thailand’s Defense Industry

Following a Defense Council Meeting on June 26, the Thai Government announced plans to develop new special economic zones to promote the development of Thailand’s defense industry. These zones will be developed under the 2019 Defense Technology Act, and a panel will be formed to oversee the process. The Defense Technology Institute (DTI), an agency under the Ministry of Defense, has been primarily tasked with implementation of the plan, alongside all other armed forces and agencies under the Ministry. This plan is supported by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who in the previous Government also served as Defense Minister. The government has yet to release specific details about these zones, including information about their locations, and it is not clear whether this plan is connected to the ten previously announced special economic zones near border areas.

These new special economic zones are expected to spur investment from the private sector, according to Defense spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich, who highlighted the importance of collaboration between the Defense Ministry and the private sector in further developing Thailand’s defense technology. The government has promoted cooperation with the private sector in previous projects related to the defense industry, such as the development of the U-Tapao airport and aerotropolis, a joint military-civilian facility, in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). As Thailand continues to bolster its defense capabilities, especially through these new economic zones, the private sector can continue to serve as a key partner in these projects.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
New cabinet ministers appointed
Policy package 'nearly ready'
Media bans lifted, military court cases transferred
Dems to pitch policies to coalition allies
Activists begin quest to amend constitution
Line-up fails to win fans
Pheu Thai leadership race hots up
PM vows single-use plastic ban
Thailand tops UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rank in ASEAN

Customs
3 more countries for NSW system
Used-car import ban takes effect Dec 10
Curbs slash imports of plastic, e-waste

Economics
Rebuilding confidence top priority, says Somkid
Permit extensions mulled for workers
Consumer spending, mega-projects critical to lift sagging economy, say experts 
GDP growth set to rev up in H2 after poor start
Fitch says full-year exports likely to avoid decline
Modified price list gets cabinet nod
Ministry lowers inflation forecast

Energy
'Tesla of Thailand' powers vision of electric paradise
Solar rooftop revisions soon
PTT targets renewables amid 'uncertain' oil view
Thai Ministry increases Renewable Energy ratio
Thai Oil Giant Boosts Renewables Funding Over 'Uncertain' Crude Outlook
PTT to expand retail, power sectors amid slower growth
BGRIM’s Vietnam solar projects come on line adding 31% to operating capacity

Financial Services
Financial stability jeopardised
Central bank does 'not rule out' interest rate cuts
Government to sell up to B128bn of bonds in July-September
Bank of Thailand secures integral phase of Corporate Excellence Strategy with SimCorp Dimension go-live
Politics key threat to Thai outlook, World Bank warns
Thailand’s e-commerce to reach 13 billion USD by 2025
Thai e-commerce to hit $13bn by 2025

Food & Agriculture
New sugar cane bill to be submitted for Cabinet approval
Dept readies farmer support guidelines for govt
Farmers threaten to protest new sales restrictions
Thousands plan to protest fishing crackdown
Sar Kheng orders Prey Lang forest protection

Health & Life Sciences
First batch of medical marijuana oil on its way
Private hospitals' price deadline pushed back
Department of Disease Control urges test to curb HIV spread
Health dept chiefs take aim at haze

ICT
Dawn of a new paradigm
NIA supports rural innovation
Thais give their views on what they want from an OTT service
Big three reject National Credit Bureau data system
Report highlights proptech's role in smart city development
Thailand Fortifies Cybersecurity for a Seamless ASEAN Connected to the World
Digital ID scheduled for year-end
Depa keen to up tech force
More disruption on the cards as IT advances 
Digital Minister opens 1st Thailand Digital ID Symposium

Infrastructure
Throw open Phuket tram bidding, urges PM
EEC vision becomes clearer ahead of city-plan unveiling
SRT ready to give bulk of land to rail builder
PTT has big ambitions for EECI project
BMA hammering out Skytrain deal
NESDC mulls Southern Economic Corridor scheme
Two provinces in Northeast hope to have 'smart' cities
Cabinet sets second high-speed rail phase rolling
Thailand’s Pan-Asia bullet train routes to connect Beijing and Singapore

Manufacturing
Agency dusts off plans, looks to build waste separation facilities
Factory employment declines but petroleum investment soars

Travel & Tourism
Tourism agencies focus on second-tier provinces
TAT trims 2019 arrival figures, focuses on niche markets
TAT Governor predicts 10% revenue rise in 2020
Thailand to nominate southern treasures as ASEAN Heritage Parks
Malaysian street food to feature at Thai tourism hot spots
Thailand talking compulsory travel insurance – again
Phatthalung polishes its tourism sheen
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Asean warehouse for disaster response launched The Manila Times Online 2nd Jul 2019
The Department of National Defense (DND), in coordination with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), launched on Monday the new warehouse where goods and equipment for disaster response will be stockpiled. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana led the launching of the warehouse, called the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for Asean (Delsa). He was joined by Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Ricardo Jalad; Minister Makoto Iyori and Second Secretary Shintaro Ichichiri of the Japanese Embassy in Manila; representatives from the embassies of Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Australia, Russia and the United Kingdom; and Asean Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA) Executive Director Adelina Kamal, among others.

National Affairs

New cabinet ministers appointed Bangkok Post 10th Jul 2019
His Majesty the King has appointed new cabinet ministers as nominated by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The new cabinet line-up published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday evening is a mix of members of the military government he headed after leading a 2014 coup and key politicians who helped him assemble a majority in the House of Representatives after March elections.

Policy package 'nearly ready' Bangkok Post 10th Jul 2019
The final version of the next government policy manifesto, which combines the election pledges of all coalition parties, including a proposed charter amendment, will be presented to the prime minister next week, Palang Pracharath (PPRP) secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong says. Mr Sontirat said the next government's policies have been drafted and are currently being vetted by coalition parties to determine whether they comply with the campaign promises they made before the election.

Media bans lifted, military court cases transferred Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has put his special powers to good use one last time by lifting media bans and transferring all cases involving offences against his orders to civilian courts, ending the military rule which has been a subject of much criticism at home and abroad for the past five years. The court case and jurisdiction transfers are part of a sweeping order, expected to be his last, to repeal 66 of some 200 orders and announcements he issued over the past five years.

Dems to pitch policies to coalition allies Bangkok Post 7th Jul 2019
Constitutional amendment, income and crop price guarantees, and power decentralisation are among proposals the Democrat Party will seek to have included in government policies, says Niphon Bunyamanee, party deputy leader. He said the party’s representatives will discuss policy with coalition parties on Monday. Chalermchai Sri-on, the party’s secretary-general, is likely to represent the camp at the talks, he said.

Activists begin quest to amend constitution Bangkok Post 7th Jul 2019
A group of activists calling themselves the “Social Democrat Movement” on Sunday launched a campaign seeking signatures from 50,000 voters to sponsor a motion for a charter rewrite. The group was led by pro-democracy activists Yiamyod Srimunta, Burapa Lekluanngarm and Somyot Pruksakasemsuk. The launch of the campaign was held at the October 14, 1973 memorial on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

Line-up fails to win fans Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2019
Political analysts are saying the latest version of the cabinet line-up leaves a lot to be desired as some ministers-to-be are known to have sketchy track records, and that the unity of the next government will be undermined by the continued bargaining among coalition parties. Phichai Ratnatilaka Na Bukhet, the dean of National Institute of Development Administration's (Nida) School of Social and Environmental Development, said the next government will continue to be plagued by public image issues.

Pheu Thai leadership race hots up Bangkok Post 4th Jul 2019
Chiang Mai MP Sompong Amornwiwat, is tipped to become the new leader of the Pheu Thai Party, and Bangkok MP Anudit Nakhonthap its new secretary-general. Mr Sompong will be elected as the new party leader and Mr Anudit the new secretary-general, a party source said on Wednesday. The elections for these two posts and the party's 29 executives are due to take place on July 12.

PM vows single-use plastic ban Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
The government has pledged to ban styrofoam food packages as well as some other types of single-use plastic products by 2022, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. "The most important thing is to change people's habits. People need to become more aware [of plastic waste pollution]. So, I appeal to people to reject plastic bags offered in convenience stores and shopping malls. On the part of the government, we will tighten measures from asking people to reduce consumption to imposing a ban," Gen Prayut said after the cabinet meeting yesterday, ahead of today's International Plastic Bag Free Day.

Thailand tops UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rank in ASEAN Thailand Business News 2nd Jul 2019
The Prime Minister is satisfied with the latest Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ranking where Thailand’s is in 40th place and the highest placed country in ASEAN. Deputy Government Spokesman Lt Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak said the Prime Minister has acknowledged and is satisfied with Thailand’s latest position on the UN SDGs ranking this year, on which the country’s ranking advanced by 19 positions.

Customs

3 more countries for NSW system Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
The Customs Department aims to link the National Single Window (NSW) with three more countries this year, expanding the electronic exchange system of trade-related data. The additional three countries are Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines, said director-general Krisada Chinavicharana. Cambodia started a trial run for the NSW with Thailand at the beginning of July, he said. The Customs Department is also developing the NSW electronic exchange system for China and South Korea, aiming to ease trade with these countries

Used-car import ban takes effect Dec 10 Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
Imports of second-hand vehicles will no longer be allowed after Dec 9 this year as authorities step up curbs on fraud, irregularities, corruption and pollution, according to the Commerce Ministry. Currently, people can bring in used cars from abroad but they have to apply for import permits from the ministry first. The ministerial order on the ban, published in the Royal Gazette on June 13, takes effect 180 days later, or on Dec 10.

Curbs slash imports of plastic, e-waste Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2019
Imports of plastic and electronic waste have declined sharply after the government curbed imports of foreign waste, says the Customs Department. Plastic waste imported to Thailand fell to 174,000 tonnes during the five months to May from 571,000 tonnes for the full year of 2018, while e-waste import volume plunged to 12,200 tonnes in the January-May period from 51,500 tonnes last year, said Krisada Chinavicharana, director-general of the Customs Department. Southeast Asian countries have become a dumping ground for plastic and high-tech trash shipped from advanced economies like Japan, Europe, Canada and the US after China imposed a ban on such imports.

Economics

Rebuilding confidence top priority, says Somkid Bangkok Post 11th Jul 2019
Rebuilding the confidence of investors and the overall public is the top priority for the new government, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. The global economy is in a downward trend and the government must build confidence among the public and investors through new stimulus measures and accelerate planned infrastructure projects to lure more investment, said Mr Somkid, newly reappointed to his post. “Thailand’s role this year is quite outstanding in the region in its capacity as the chair of Asean, so we should seize this opportunity and this economic momentum to attract investors to invest more in Thailand,” he said.

Permit extensions mulled for workers Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
The Ministry of Labour will this month ask the cabinet to approve its proposal to extend work permits for migrant workers for another two years. There are about two million eligible migrant labourers from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. The policy will save time and money for both labourers and employees, Sutthi Sukoson, permanent secretary for labour told reporters after a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, in his capacity as acting labour minister.

Consumer spending, mega-projects critical to lift sagging economy, say experts  The Nation Thailand 8th Jul 2019
As Thailand’s economic growth could decline at an alarming rate in the next six months, leading economists have unanimously urged the incoming government to stimulate consumer spending and continue investing in mega-infrastructure projects for the rest of the year. Key financial institutions have been continuously lowering their GDP forecasts for 2019 as the economy looks to be decelerating faster than anticipated. 

GDP growth set to rev up in H2 after poor start Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
GDP growth is likely to come in below 3% in the first half before revving up in the latter half on an expected recovery in exports, says a senior Bank of Thailand official. Economic growth is predicted at 2.8% in the first half and 3.8% in the second, bringing full-year growth to the 3.3% forecast by the central bank, Don Nakornthab, senior director of the economic and policy department, said on Wednesday at Kasikornbank’s private banking seminar on the economic outlook.

Fitch says full-year exports likely to avoid decline Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
Despite flagging export data, Thai shipments are not expected to contract this year, as sustained global economic growth and exports to the US can compensate for sluggish exports to China, says Fitch Ratings. "Total exports are not expected to turn negative this year," said Stephen Schwartz, a Hong Kong-based senior director and head of Asia-Pacific sovereign ratings at Fitch. "The momentum is weakening and there are downward risks from many countries, but the baseline outlook is reasonably strong.

Modified price list gets cabinet nod Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
The cabinet yesterday approved the new price control list, adding onions but removing sweetened condensed creamer, condensed milk, recombined milk and filled milk because of those products' subsiding popularity. According to Maj Gen Athisit Chainuwat, the deputy government spokesman, domestic onion prices have seen a drastic fall after a flood of imports and onion smuggling from neighbouring countries.

Ministry lowers inflation forecast Bangkok Post 2nd Jul 2019
The Commerce Ministry has lowered its annual inflation forecast to a range of 0.7-1.3% this year from 0.7-1.7% because of lower energy prices, a stronger baht and dim export prospects. According to Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office under the Commerce Ministry, the new forecast was made on the assumption that GDP would grow in a range of 3.3-3.8% this year, with crude oil prices of US$60-70 a barrel and an exchange rate of 31-32 baht to the US dollar.

Energy

'Tesla of Thailand' powers vision of electric paradise Bangkok Post 8th Jul 2019
Thailand could be on the verge of an electric vehicle (EV) revolution. After decades of promising ubiquitous plug-in stations and quiet roads full of whirring, non-petrol-powered cars, the futuristic fantasy could soon be a reality. Dubbed the "Tesla of Thailand", SET-listed Energy Absolute (EA) will kick off the first phase of its 100-billion-baht lithium-ion battery production line in mid-2020, the largest of its kind in Thailand, anticipating a "tidal wave of new business growth".

Solar rooftop revisions soon Bangkok Post 4th Jul 2019
The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency plans to ask the Energy Ministry to launch a revised solar scheme for the public after witnessing lower participation than expected in the household solar rooftop programme. Following the launch of the national power development plan (PDP) for 2018-37, the objective was to focus on new solar power generation of 10,000 megawatts -- all from the solar rooftop type invested in by homeowners. Under the PDP, there is no allowance for solar farms.

PTT targets renewables amid 'uncertain' oil view Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
State energy firm PTT Plc is boosting investments in electricity generation, particularly renewables, given what it says is a "highly uncertain" outlook for oil over the next year. The country's biggest company, which is involved in everything from oil exploration and power generation to gasoline and coffee retailing, revised its 2019 capital spending plan in late June, chief executive Chansin Treenuchagron said in an email interview.

Thai Ministry increases Renewable Energy ratio Thailand Business News 7th Jul 2019
On the move to reinforce electricity security, the Ministry of Energy has amended its Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP) 2018 to comply with the national electricity generating capacity development, increasing the ratio of electricity generation from renewable energy sources to 29,358 megawatts by 2037. The Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency’s (DEDE) Director General, Yongyut Juntararotai has disclosed that the Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP) 2018, which covers operations from 2018 to 2037, is aimed at increasing electricity generation from waste materials utilized in energy plants, from 500 megawatts to 900 megawatts, which will help solve the national issue of excess garbage needing disposal.

Thai Oil Giant Boosts Renewables Funding Over 'Uncertain' Crude Outlook Bloomberg 1st Jul 2019
Thai energy conglomerate PTT Pcl is boosting investments in electricity generation, particularly renewables, given what it says is a “highly uncertain” outlook for oil over the next year.The country’s biggest company revised its 2019 capital spending plan in late June, Chief Executive Officer Chansin Treenuchagron said in an email interview. Most of the 33.2 billion baht ($1.1 billion) of extra budget will be spent on electricity projects, he said.

PTT to expand retail, power sectors amid slower growth Bangkok Post 27th Jun 2019
Thailand's state energy firm PTT Plc has stepped up investments in the retail and industrial power sectors to buffer the impact of a global economic slowdown on its oil refining and chemical businesses, its chief executive said on Monday.

BGRIM’s Vietnam solar projects come on line adding 31% to operating capacity Bangkok Post 27th Jun 2019
B.Grimm Power Plc (BGRIM), one of Thailand’s largest private power producers, successfully commenced commercial production from its two large solar power schemes in Vietnam with a combined total installed capacity of 677 megawatt during June 3-13, 2019. The commencement of the two solar PV projects lifts BGRIM's total installed generating capacity already in commercial production by 31% and boosting the contribution of renewal energy in the company's total portfolio to 30% from 10% previously.

Financial Services

Financial stability jeopardised Bangkok Post 10th Jul 2019
The Bank of Thailand (BoT)'s two key committees have voiced concern that rising household debt poses a threat to financial stability. The country's household debt load remains high and is trending upwards, particularly in car loans, according to a summary of a joint meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and the Financial Institutions Policy Committee (FIPC) released on Wednesday. Competition between both commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions in the retail lending business has intensified, it said, resulting in lax underwriting standards and offering loans in a manner that  that tempts people to run up more debt more than necessary.

Central bank does 'not rule out' interest rate cuts Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
The Bank of Thailand (BoT) said on Wednesday it is not closing the door to easing monetary policy, as the economy faces downside risks and it is worried about strength of the baht. The BoT's monetary policy committee (MPC) last week held the policy rate steady for a fourth meeting since a December hike, but cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to 3.3% from 3.8%. Last year's growth was 4.1%

Government to sell up to B128bn of bonds in July-September Bangkok Post 2nd Jul 2019
Thailand plans to sell up to 128 billion baht of government bonds in the July-September quarter as part of a debt-restructuring, the finance ministry said on Tuesday. The baht-denominated bonds, to be sold domestically, will have maturities of between five and 48 years, the ministry said in a statement.  That compares with 143 billion baht of government bond issues planned for the April-June period.

Bank of Thailand secures integral phase of Corporate Excellence Strategy with SimCorp Dimension go-live bobsguide 9th Jul 2019
SimCorp, a leading provider of investment management solutions and services to the global financial services industry, today announces that The Bank of Thailand, the country’s central bank with USD 226 billion in reserves, has successfully implemented and is live on SimCorp Dimension. The go-live sees The Bank of Thailand running SimCorp Dimension across its reserve management and monetary policy operations, evolving to front to back management of all invested asset classes, on one core platform. The bank joins some of the leading central banks around the globe, using SimCorp Dimension, including the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and the Central Bank of the Republic of Austria (OeNB). With the transformation to one core platform implemented both on time and on budget, it is now primed with increased scalability and multi-asset coverage, to readily adapt to new market conditions and explore global multi-asset investments.

Politics key threat to Thai outlook, World Bank warns Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
Lingering doubts about the cohesiveness of the newly established 19-party coalition government could adversely impact investor and consumer confidence and contribute to a further delay in the timely implementation of large public infrastructure projects, the report said. On the external front, ongoing trade tensions between the US and China could further weaken demand for Thai exports and discourage private investment in export-oriented industries. The World Bank, however, is maintaining its forecast for Thai economic growth this year at 3.5%. It also predicts that economic growth will gradually pick up to 3.6% in 2020 and 3.7% in 2021, assuming private consumption can be sustained and public investment accelerates.  

Thailand’s e-commerce to reach 13 billion USD by 2025 Thailand Business News 7th Jul 2019
Thailand’s e-commerce market value is expected to surge to 13 billion USD by 2025 from 3 billion USD in 2018 on the back of strong global demand for Thai products. The Bangkok Post cited Ebay’s General Manager for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia border trade Jenny Hui as saying that Thai products are in global demand, including jewelries and watches, health and beauty products, auto parts, home and garden, and collectibles. Southeast Asia will account for 20 percent of worldwide e-commerce by 2022. Moreover, Asia-Pacific is expected to become the largest cross-border trade region for both imports and exports.

Thai e-commerce to hit $13bn by 2025 Bangkok Post 1st Jul 2019
Thailand's e-commerce market value is expected to surge to US$13 billion by 2025 from last year's $3 billion on the back of strong global demand for Thai products. The country's e-commerce sector has several product categories that are in global demand. The top five exports sold through cross-border trade in Thailand's e-commerce comprise jewellery and watches, health and beauty products, auto parts, home and garden, and collectibles, said Jenny Hui, general manager of eBay, referring to the Google/Temasek e-Conomy 2018 report.

Food & Agriculture

New sugar cane bill to be submitted for Cabinet approval The Nation Thailand 8th Jul 2019
The Office of Cane and Sugar Board (OCSB) is soon to submit a new Cane and Sugar bill to the Agriculture Ministry for comment before it goes to the Council of State for endorsement. OCSB secretary general Worawan Chitaroon said that when the bill has been endorsed by the Council of State, it will be forwarded to the Cabinet for deliberation and approval to replace the outdated Cane and Sugar Act of B.E. 2527. Among other things, the new bill will allow sugar cane to be used as a material for other products rather than for only making sugar and will also do away with provisions that violate the regulations of the World Trade Organisation, she said.

Dept readies farmer support guidelines for govt Bangkok Post 8th Jul 2019
The Internal Trade department is preparing guidelines for the income guarantee scheme for four crops -- rice, maize, oil palm and cassava -- to submit to the government. Director-general Whichai Phochanakij said the department will hand its proposal to the new commerce minister, expected to be Jurin Laksanavisit, leader of the Democrat Party, which advocated income guarantees as part of its election manifesto. The guidelines will cover the reference price calculation method, the registration process and budget allocation.

Farmers threaten to protest new sales restrictions Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
Farmers with the Thai Agriculturalists Association threatened to protest against a government policy that would prevent them from selling their unpolished grains to rice mills outside of their designated agricultural zones. Pramote Charoensilp, the president of the Thai Agriculturalists Association, said on Tuesday the planned policy and limitations will infringe on the rights of farmers.  

Thousands plan to protest fishing crackdown Bangkok Post 28th Jun 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has touted his crackdown on fishing industry abuses as a success, but disgruntled fishermen are now mulling mass protests against laws they describe as too harsh. Gen Prayut, using his unchallenged powers granted him under the 2014 charter, tightened up rules to curb illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as forced labour, spurring the European Commission to lift the threat of a ban on Thai seafood. Trade bodies say the laws are pushing up costs in a $6-billion export industry that's already grappling with a surging currency.

Sar Kheng orders Prey Lang forest protection Phnom Penh Post 28th Jun 2019
Interior Minister Sar Kheng urged authorities on Thursday to protect Prey Lang forest, saying it is the largest remaining woodland in mainland Southeast Asia, and that amendments to laws that protect natural resources would soon be finalised. “If we protect the forest, it will be great for our natural resources.” Sar Kheng said he was tasked with reforming the law on the protection of natural resources some 10 years ago by Prime Minister Hun Sen. The minister also instructed provincial authorities to educate residents not to log timber in Thailand because the Thai authorities have strict forest protection laws. He said their laws allowed authorities to shoot to kill without waiting for court approval. The Ministry of Interior had discussed the matter with Thailand, Sar Kheng said, asking it not to kill any Cambodian people, but he said his Thai counterparts insisted that that is their law and requested Cambodia to explain the facts to its citizens.

Health & Life Sciences

First batch of medical marijuana oil on its way The Nation Thailand 9th Jul 2019
An initial batch of 15,000 doses of medical-cannabis oil will be ready for distribution among some registered people in need within the coming month, the Public Health Ministry announced on Tuesday. Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) had begun harvesting medical-grade cannabis to use in producing cannabinoid medicines, so doses should be ready as early as the end of this month.

Private hospitals' price deadline pushed back Bangkok Post 6th Jul 2019
The Commerce Ministry will extend the submission deadline for 353 private hospitals to provide information about the actual costs of drugs, medical supplies and medical services to July 31, saying the decision is in line with a cabinet resolution on Tuesday. According to the Internal Trade Department, the latest cabinet meeting approved 54 products to go on the price control list, including drugs, supplies and related services. Whichai Phochanakij, the department's director-general, said the submission period should give the hospitals enough time. The department has received only 20 documents from private hospitals so far.

Department of Disease Control urges test to curb HIV spread Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
The Department of Disease Control is encouraging members of the public to get free HIV/Aids tests from state-run hospitals, after it found that at least 28,000 Thais are unaware that they have contracted the disease. The director-general of the DDC, Suwanchai Watthanatingcharoen said tests are provided free at state-run hospitals today to mark the Voluntary Counselling Testing (VCT) Day for HIV/Aids, which falls on July 1 each year.

Health dept chiefs take aim at haze Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
Health officials have renewed efforts to fight PM2.5 ultra-fine dust and other harmful air pollutants in order to meet a target of reducing illnesses caused by air pollution by 10% in two years. The goal was announced by Health Department chief Phanphimon Wipulakon yesterday ahead of Thai Environmental Health Day tomorrow. Dr Phanphimon said the amount of fine dust in the air in many provinces, including Bangkok, still exceeds acceptable levels.

ICT

Dawn of a new paradigm Bangkok Post 8th Jul 2019
It remains to be seen whether the Personal Data Protection Act will be effective at reining in tech behemoths and serial data abusers. The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) came into effect in May with a one-year grace period for compliance by companies and government agencies that handle personal data. The measure is in conjunction with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect in May last year, penalising any company worldwide that mishandles the data of EU citizens.

NIA supports rural innovation Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2019
Under the Startup Act, the National Innovation Agency (NIA) plans to provide support to innovation-driven companies in rural areas outside Bangkok while building a workforce skilled in technology, science and research. The NIA will be under the new Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation. The move aims to drive Thailand towards becoming an "innovation nation", boosting the country's economic growth and reducing economic inequality.

Thais give their views on what they want from an OTT service The Nation Thailand 5th Jul 2019
Brightcove, a global provider of cloud services for video, has just released its annual OTT TV market study for Asia, the Asia OTT Research Report 2019, conducted with research partner YouGov, a global public opinion and data company. The study polled 9,000 participants across nine countries in Asia, including 1,000 consumers in Thailand.

Big three reject National Credit Bureau data system Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
The three major mobile operators are opposing a plan to join their customers' mobile data with citizen data from the National Credit Bureau (NCB) system. The latest push is led by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), focusing on cases of information exchange between the telecom and finance sectors.

Report highlights proptech's role in smart city development Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
Smart city initiatives in Asia-Pacific will not reach their potential if they focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies without paying enough attention to the needs and experiences of citizens, according to new research by real estate consultant JLL. The report contends that as the real estate industry catches up in technology, it could bridge the gap between smart city solutions and the physical spaces where people work, live and play.

Thailand Fortifies Cybersecurity for a Seamless ASEAN Connected to the World Yahoo Finance 2nd Jul 2019
"Seamlessly connected" is how ASEAN aspires to facilitate and expand people-to-people interactions among its diverse population and build a common community with a shared sense of ownership. Thailand, as the Chair of ASEAN, has a vision of "Advancing" the Community to the future towards a digital ASEAN and is fully aware that digital technology and cybersecurity will contribute to the success of ASEAN, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand states. According to the situation and vision, Thailand has organised knowledge sharing events on 4IR and cybersecurity. These knowledge-sharing conferences are one of many steps towards bridging the public and private sectors in cybersecurity, and laying a firm foundation for public - private partnership to combat cybersecurity threats.

Digital ID scheduled for year-end Bangkok Post 1st Jul 2019
Digital ID services will be enacted by royal decree by year-end to ensure that Thailand's digital ID scheme is effective. According to Surangkana Wayuparb, executive director and chief executive of the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), a public hearing on digital ID services is scheduled for mid-July before the draft goes before the cabinet by August.

Depa keen to up tech force Bangkok Post 1st Jul 2019
The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) has plans to assist in producing 40,000 digital and tech-related workers per year by 2022, doubling the current level, through skills courses designed by major tech companies. The 84 selected digital skill courses were suggested by four companies: Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Huawei.

More disruption on the cards as IT advances  The Nation 1st Jul 2019
Patama Chantaruck, vice president for Indochina Expansion and managing director of IBM Thailand, said the Thai market narrative is increasingly influenced by emerging technologies (hybrid cloud, AI, blockchain) and evolving customer preferences that are driving industry and digital disruption. The rising importance of data-driven business models, security-aware IT architectures and hyper-connected ecosystems puts an increasingly diverse set of players into competition to ensure relevancy and success.

Digital Minister opens 1st Thailand Digital ID Symposium Pattaya Mail 30th Jun 2019
The Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) has joined hands with government agencies and private companies to hold the Thailand Digital ID Symposium 2019 aimed at unlocking Thailand’s digital economic potential by learning from successful Digital ID system implementations in foreign countries. The event will feature discussion sessions with international experts from countries such as India, Estonia, and Singapore, regarding the development of a digital personal identification and verification system or Digital ID.

Infrastructure

Throw open Phuket tram bidding, urges PM Bangkok Post 10th Jul 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stressed the importance of making the bidding for the planned 35 billion baht tram system in Phuket as universal as possible, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority said on Wednesday. Gen Prayut made the remark during his recent visit to Phuket to observe progress in the project to construct a 41.7 kilometre tram route from Phuket International Airport to Chalong intersection, said MRTA governor Pakapong Sirikantaramas.

EEC vision becomes clearer ahead of city-plan unveiling The Nation Thailand 9th Jul 2019
The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) will double the amount of land used for manufacturing in the three provinces it spans, the EEC Office has said. The Eastern Economic Corridor Office (EECO) is expecting a large inflow of private investment, its secretary general, Kanit Sangsubhan, said, and a city plan is set to come into effect next month once the new Cabinet is in place. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Kanit said the draft had been finalised.  The government has promoted the EEC concept extensively as an industrial hub for not just Thailand but all of Southeast Asia.

SRT ready to give bulk of land to rail builder Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2019
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is ready to hand over 80% of more than 10,000 rai of land to the Charoen Pokphand Group-led consortium to begin work on the high-speed railway project linking three major airports this month, its acting governor Worawut Mala said on Tuesday. The two sides will discuss details regarding the land on Friday, and if the consortium is satisfied, they will set a date to sign a construction contract this month, he said.

PTT has big ambitions for EECI project Bangkok Post 8th Jul 2019
PTT Plc is set to launch its Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECI) project in Rayong with the ambitious goal to raise the research and development centre to technology readiness level soon. The SET-listed national oil and gas conglomerate is developing the EECI in Rayong province's Wang Chan Valley. The government plans for the EECI to occupy two sites, the other being in Sri Racha district of Chon Buri.

BMA hammering out Skytrain deal Bangkok Post 8th Jul 2019
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is negotiating with BTS Group Holdings Plc over the granting proposed 40-year extensions to two concessions on the Green Line Skytrain service, according to a source at the Transport Ministry. One concession -- the Mo Chit-On Nut and the National Stadium-Saphan Taksin sections -- is set to expire in 2029. Meanwhile, the other concession -- on the On Nut-Bearing and Saphan Taksin-Bang Wa sections -- will expire in 2042.

NESDC mulls Southern Economic Corridor scheme Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2019
The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) plans to propose developing a Southern Economic Corridor to the new government in a similar fashion to the ongoing Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme. Thosaporn Sirisamphand, secretary-general of the NESDC, said the agency plans to propose concrete development projects for the southern corridor in tandem with the EEC. "Thailand should develop the utmost potential of the country, especially its outstanding geography, which is a strong point of the nation," Mr Thosaporn said.

Two provinces in Northeast hope to have 'smart' cities Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
The northeastern provinces of Roi Et and Nakhon Ratchasima have submitted proposals to join the "smart city" development project, according to the Digital Economy and Society (DE) Ministry. Last year, the government began the project with seven pilot provinces -- Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Bangkok, Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao. The government is now proceeding with the project's second phase that cover another 17 provinces -- Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok, Nan, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Krabi, Phangnga, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, Satun, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Ranong.

Cabinet sets second high-speed rail phase rolling Bangkok Post 3rd Jul 2019
The cabinet yesterday approved the first sum of 112 million baht of the 751-million-baht budget required for financing the design of the second phase of the Thai-Chinese high-speed train project in the Northeast. The second phase is a 355-km long section from Nakhon Ratchasima to Nong Khai, which will cost about 200 billion baht. The project's first phase is a 125-billion-baht section stretching 253km from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima.

Thailand’s Pan-Asia bullet train routes to connect Beijing and Singapore The Independent 9th Jul 2019
Bangkok—Thailand has begun constructing routes for its planned Trans-Asean bullet train line that will connect Beijing, Laos, and Singapore. The proposed modern transport system is part of the government’s plan to make Thailand the logistics centre for ASEAN. The railway project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative along with Thailand’s Transportation Ministry.

Manufacturing

Agency dusts off plans, looks to build waste separation facilities Bangkok Post 2nd Jul 2019
The Industrial Works Department plans to build waste separation plants nationwide in a bid to process tonnes of future hazardous waste from industrial manufacturing. The department previously conducted a feasibility study with a Japanese agency five years ago, but the idea was opposed by locals and campaigners. Now the plan is being dusted off again. Under the earlier plan, the department sought to build six waste separation plants in Rayong, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, Ratchaburi, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon.

Factory employment declines but petroleum investment soars Bangkok Post 2nd Jul 2019
Thailand's factory employment in the first half of 2019 fell by 5.45% year-on-year to 92,262 workers, the Industrial Works Department said on Tuesday, as more companies move to replace workers with high-tech machinery. Total factory registration for the period was down 18.06% year-on-year to 2,064 factories. Despite the smaller number, the total value of registered factories from January to June stood at 195.7 billion baht, up by 15.85% year-on-year, driven by the petroleum, food and electronics sectors.

Travel & Tourism

Tourism agencies focus on second-tier provinces Bangkok Post 4th Jul 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will work with the National Economic and Social Development Council to help boost the competitiveness of second-tier provinces. The first 10 provinces will be selected for a pilot project that aims to develop the destinations to meet market demands. The provinces are Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Nong Khai, Ubon Ratchathani, Sa Kaeo, Trat, Chumphon, Ranong, Trang and Satun. The first batch are part of the 55 second-tier provinces or cities that receive no more than 4 million visitors a year.

TAT trims 2019 arrival figures, focuses on niche markets Bangkok Post 2nd Jul 2019
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revised down the number of international arrivals this year to 40.2 million from the 41.3 million forecast earlier. The agency also cut revenue growth of overall tourism receipts, which include domestic travel, to 9.5% from 10%, bringing revenue this year to 3.38 trillion baht, down slightly from the previous projection of 3.4 trillion. TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn has attributed the fall to the global slowdown, the baht's appreciation and soaring fuel prices disrupting travel plans.

TAT Governor predicts 10% revenue rise in 2020 The Thaiger 9th Jul 2019
Yuthasak Suphasorn, governor of Thailand’s Tourism Authority (TAT), says he’s expecting a 10% rise in tourist revenue in 2020 despite global economic uncertainty and a statistical drop in tourism around the country in Q2 of this year. According to Daily News, he confidently predicted that tourists would into Thailand keeping the country in the top 6 of most visited nations in the world. But his predictions are made without any firm evidence or data that would suggest any sudden resurgence of Thailand’s sagging tourist numbers. In the Daily News report the TAT chief said it was important that Thailand’s natural resources were maintained.

Thailand to nominate southern treasures as ASEAN Heritage Parks Pattaya Mail 6th Jul 2019
Thailand is to nominate Hat Chao Mai National Park, Ko Libong Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park as ASEAN Heritage Parks at the 30th Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN) on 8th-12th July. Thailand is to host the meeting to discuss regional cooperation in solving global environmental issues, such as cross-national environmental problems affecting the economy, society, and national development. The officials will be discussing the conservation of nature and biodiversity, the marine and coastal environment, water resources management, a sustainable urban environment, climate change, chemicals and waste management, and environmental studies on sustainable manufacturing and consumption.

Malaysian street food to feature at Thai tourism hot spots Bernama.com 2nd Jul 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry plans to promote Malaysian street food at popular tourism areas in Thailand, owing to the success of last week's Malaysia Fest 2019 in Bangkok. Ministry deputy secretary-general (development) Datuk Salim Parlan said the fest, which was launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on June 21, had featured a street food promotion which received a very encouraging response, with ministry officials getting to see how Thais and foreigners alike took to Malaysian cuisine.

Thailand talking compulsory travel insurance – again finder.com.au 2nd Jul 2019
Tourists heading to Thailand may soon be forced to take out compulsory travel insurance, reports the Bangkok Post. The insurance scheme is currently pending approval from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, following which it will need approval from the cabinet. The good news for foreign travellers is that paying the fee will be simple, as you'll be able to do so at Immigration offices at the airport. The better news for Aussie travellers is that the 20-Baht fee won't break the bank, as it equates (at the time of writing this) to AUD$0.94. The compulsory travel insurance will provide travellers with protection of up to 1 million Thai Baht (AUD$46,804) in case of death. The proposed insurance scheme is projected to help bolster the government's coffers, with a projected 40 million travellers contributing 2.13 trillion Thai Baht. This is not the first time the Thai government has looked at levying compulsory travel insurance on foreign travellers and has been on the cards since at least 2017.

Phatthalung polishes its tourism sheen Bangkok Post 29th Jun 2019
Phatthalung used to be a far-flung, overlooked destination which visitors once travelled past almost without noticing. Now the southern coastal province has revealed its charm, with the lure being its delectable cuisine and natural marine beauty in abundance. Phatthalung's tourism sheen looks set to be "polished" through making more travel options available as transport infrastructure projects are mooted, including construction of the province's own airport. The province raked in 3.4 billion baht in tourism revenue last year, up from 3.15 billion baht in 2017 and 2.59 billion baht in 2016. Its tourism revenue was the highest among the so-called "second-tier" tourist provinces last year with the number of travellers reaching 1.6 million.