Thailand Update: November 14, 2019

Thailand Update | November 14, 2019
Authors: Marc Mealy, Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew, Aree Tomes
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
December 6: ASEAN Secretariat Mission
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

United States Open to Negotiations with Thailand on GSP Cuts

Following last month’s announcement that the United States Government (USG) would revoke approximately one-third of Thailand’s trade privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences, the Thai Government announced that the USG was willing to enter into negotiations over the cuts. During a speech on the United States’ commitment to Asia at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Bangkok on November 4, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said “there’s still time to renegotiate the underlying issue of workers’ rights” before the suspension takes effect in April 25, 2020. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that he hoped the United States would reconsider the suspension. During a dialogue with Secretary Ross at the November 4 forum, he sought to assure the Commerce Secretary that the Thai government is ready to cooperate in suppressing human trafficking while supporting U.S. firms in Thailand.

Reports of the United States’ willingness to negotiate with Thailand on the GSP cuts comes after the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced on October 25 that the U.S. Government was suspending US$1.3 billion in duty-free trade privileges for Thailand, effective April 25, 2020. The United States Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) are trade preferences granted to chosen countries and territories with the objective of promoting economic development through the elimination of duties on selected imported products. Thailand has been a beneficiary of GSP privileges since the program’s inauguration with the scheme covering 573 of the country’s goods. However, U.S. claims against Thailand for failing to protect worker’s rights called for the suspension of GSP going into effect April 25, 2020. See the Council’s previous Thailand Update for a detailed overview of the GSP issue.

Thailand Unveils ‘Anti-Fake News’ Center

In efforts to limit the spread of “fake news” and monitor online content, Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) unveiled an “anti-fake news” center on November 1 at the TOT head office in Laksi district. The 60 million-THB (US$1.9 million) center will partner with 200 organizations and the Police Cyber Taskforce (PCT) to attempt to control the spread of online disinformation. Domestic political tensions surrounding the country’s general election this past March have led to an increase in politically-charged content criticizing the government, military, and monarchy. This has drawn government attention and motivated Thai authorities to assert more power in the name of protecting national security and Thailand’s international reputation.

In the center, around 30 officers track alleged "fake news" in real-time via social media. The center utilizes artificial intelligence and “social listening” tools to review online content covering topics ranging from natural disasters to the economy to health products to illicit goods. When false information is suspected, it is flagged to relevant authorities for review. In addition to monitoring, the center also accepts submissions of information people find suspicious. The center is one of the first of its kind in ASEAN, as other countries in the region still depend on legislation to combat “fake news”.

Thai authorities view “fake news,” according to MDES Minister Buddhispongse Punnakanta, to be defined as any viral online content that misleads people or damages the country’s image.  Numerous rights groups and media freedom advocates are worried the government will use the center for censorship and propaganda. Several major companies with an active presence on the internet have released transparency reports showing the ways in which the Thai government has requested that content be taken down or turned over. In the leadup to a tour of the center, Minister Punnakanta reinforced the government’s position that it is solely protecting people’s lives and the economy. The Minister affirmed to reporters that “the center is not intended to be a tool to support the government or any individual.” 

High-Speed Railway Contract Details Revealed

On November 6, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) released preliminary details of the country’s 225 billion-THB (US$7.4 billion) high-speed railway project that is to link three international airports: Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan, and U-tapao in Rayong. The details came after the project’s bid winner, Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) consortium, signed a contract with the SRT on October 24.

By law, the railway’s contract details must be publicized to ensure operational and maintenance transparency. The contract details include the following:

  • The CP consortium and its partners will carry out the operation and maintenance of the high-speed trains, given that CP maintains a minimum of 51 percent share in the partnership;
  • The CP consortium is entitled to undertake the development of surrounding areas for a period of 50 years once railway service operations commence;
  • Profits generated from train operation and land development will be shared among SRT, CP consortium, and their partners;
  • The fare for the train from the first station to the terminal will not exceed 490 THB (US$16.20)
  • Any fare adjustment must be in accordance with the consumer price index announced by the Ministry of Commerce and agreed upon by all parties;
  • The SRT may raise the fair of the airport rail link from 45 TBH to 97 TBH (US$1.49 to US$3.21) after the CP consortium concludes its construction of the extended section connecting the railways from the airport rail link’s first station to the terminal;
  • The CP consortium is required to complete the design and construction of the high-speed railway and airport rail link extended section within five years from the signing date, otherwise it will be subject to a fine of 9 million THB (US$ 297,717) per day for the high-speed railway and 2.25 million TBH (US$ 74, 429) per day for the airport rail link extended section; and
  • The CP consortium is not permitted to transfer the rights and responsibilities under this contract to any third entity, either partly or wholly, unless written consent from SRT is obtained.

This railway has been long-awaited as one of the major groundbreaking initiatives of the Eastern Economic Corridor project, and the transparency and specificity of the contract give promising indications to the project’s progress. It will be important for SRT and CP Group to maintain this transparency and public information-sharing to ensure there is continued accountability on the progress of this highly-anticipated project.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Hun Sen finds a Thai ally
Thailand set to block Cambodian opposition’s return plans
Huge Asia Pacific trade deal is set to be signed in 2020, Thailand says

National Affairs
Revised forecast puts Bangkok underwater by 2050
Thai English skills dip for third year
15 Killed in Southern Thailand in the Worst Violence in Years
Thai GSP suspension drives mass migrant exodus: Central

Customs
Thailand seeks clarity on scrapping of US trade preferences
Government to expedite studies on Thai-EU FTA
European Union aims to resume free trade talks with Thailand
US open to talk with Thailand over GSP cuts
Dachser Thailand well prepared for the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (FTA)

Defense & Security
Thailand Defense Industry Ambition in the Headlines With Technology Transfer Prioritization
Navy to get new drones next year
Thai king creates boot camp-style 'unity' courses
Thailand ready to impose curfew in areas of troubled south

Economics
A win-win for nature and the economy
Govt announces 20 policies to upgrade business environment for foreign investors
Thai entrepreneurs urged to look at new markets and S-curve businesses
Southeast Asia's strongest currency baht fights own success
SME revenues surge, riding rapid e-commerce growth
Thai Government Pension Fund to apply ESG screening
Thailand's Central Group plans to invest 20b baht overseas
PM signals more stimulus packages to lift Thai economy
Thailand: Second Public Hearing Planned on Draft Act to Reduce Tax Evasion

Energy
Egat readying country's first FSRU
Thailand promotes use of biofuel to support agriculture
Energy Ministry sets E20 transition for early 2020
Cabinet okays Bt3.6 billion to speed up underground power line project
1,500 Energy Experts Gather in Bangkok in November to Secure Thailand's Energy Future

Financial Services
BOT names new assistant governor  

Food & Agriculture
Jurin vows long-term support for rubber farmers
Korat water shortage 'critical'
Farmers despair over chemical ban
Ministry eyes new farming technology
Why Thailand plans to invest billions in smart farming initiatives in 2020
Thailand BOI approves 5 more food innovation sites for investment promotion
‘Real’ farmers reject ministry’s ‘organic’ vision as they seek injunctive relief in court from ban

Health & Life Sciences
Govt backs 'no plastic' bid
Thailand says it is seeking to freely allow medical marijuana
Smog returns to greater Bangkok
No magic pill
Thailand's first certified climate bonds
Health ministry to provide blood pressure monitors in public places, promoting self-care
Chiang Mai - the wellness destination
Healthcare: Why are Thais worried?

ICT
BoI entices charging stations
Thailand’s internet economy to hit 50 billion dollars by 2025
Thailand unveils 'anti-fake news' center to police the internet
Suvit calls for Thailand to embrace 5G fast, or lag behind rivals
New ministry takes on human factor
DES Ministry takes on farms
Govts urged to 're-skill' workers
Business forum maps out digital future
Regulator to add further range to 5G auctions
Big three set to vie for 5G
Prayut urges quick digital transition
Feb 16 date for 5G bids

Infrastructure
Four new stations on Skytrain green line to open next month
Infrastructure funds thrive amid low interest rates
Blue Line link trial to start next month
SRT unveils details of high-speed railways contract
Progress expected in clearing obstacles of Thailand's first HSR

Manufacturing
Large companies still dominant locally
American firms looking at relocating production bases to Thailand amid US-China trade war
Thailand is a 'leading beneficiary' of the trade war, says Standard Chartered
Chonburi manufacturers suspend operations, workers laid off

Travel & Tourism
PM proposes holding world music festival to woo tourists
Major hotels planned for Phuket, Pattaya seen as boon for MICE trade
Survey reveals that Airbnb's guests spend a small fortune at local restaurants
Thais urged to spend in new tourism scheme
Transport Ministry greenlights luggage handling hike for airport taxis
Thai cave where 12 boys were trapped reopens as tourist attraction
Taxi drivers rally at ministry
Thai national landmark 'ICONSIAM' marks first anniversary as game-changer destination, revitalising Bangkok's riverfront and Thonburi district
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Hun Sen finds a Thai ally Bangkok Post 8th Nov 2019
What is as troubling as the ruling Cambodian regime's ruthless crackdown on opposition leaders, as recent developments over the past few days have shown, is how willingly the Thai government has cooperated with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. By citing the need to refrain from interference in Cambodia's internal affairs, which is a cardinal rule amongst Asean nations, Bangkok has agreed to refuse entry to a group of exiled opposition leaders. In doing so, it has fulfilled Hun Sen's request and this shows Thailand's support in this matter, in fact, does amount to interference in Cambodian politics.

Thailand set to block Cambodian opposition’s return plans The Star Online 7th Nov 2019
Plans by self-exiled leaders of Cambodia’s banned opposition party to return to their homeland hit a major roadblock when Thailand’s prime minister said their top leader would not be allowed in to make his way through the country to the Cambodian border.Leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party have vowed to return home on Saturday despite efforts by their government to thwart them. They are led by party co-founder Sam Rainsy (pic), who has been in exile since 2015 to avoid serving a prison term on charges that he says are politically motivated. The opposition politicians had said yesterday that they hoped to return accompanied by a mass of followers, including Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand.

Huge Asia Pacific trade deal is set to be signed in 2020, Thailand says CNBC 4th Nov 2019
Southeast Asian countries are committed to signing a mega Asia Pacific trade pact in 2020 that would form a major trading bloc covering a third of the world's gross domestic product, according to Thailand.Many were hoping that at least some "substantial conclusion" to the years-long negotiations over the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership would be reached in Bangkok. Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are in Thailand for the 35th ASEAN Summit as well as meetings with major trading partners like China and India.Thailand, which currently holds the ASEAN chairmanship, said Sunday in a statement that the group "welcomed the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations and the commitment to sign the RCEP Agreement in 2020."

National Affairs

Revised forecast puts Bangkok underwater by 2050 Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Revised method for calculating land elevation levels paints grim picture for areas that are home to 150 million Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities including Bangkok. The authors of a paper published this week developed a more accurate way of calculating land elevation based on satellite readings, a standard way of estimating the effects of sea level rise over large areas, and found that the previous numbers were far too optimistic.

Thai English skills dip for third year Bangkok Post 8th Nov 2019
Thailand's English proficiency has fallen for the third year in a row, according to the annual English Proficiency Index conducted by the global education company EF Education First.

15 Killed in Southern Thailand in the Worst Violence in Years The New York Times 6th Nov 2019
BANGKOK — Gunmen killed at least 15 people at a security checkpoint in southern Thailand on Tuesday night, the worst outbreak of violence in years in the country’s insurgency-plagued border region. The attackers stormed several spots around the checkpoint, in the Muang Yala District in Yala Province. The post was guarded by a mix of village defense volunteers, police officers and other security personnel, officials said.

Thai GSP suspension drives mass migrant exodus: Central Khmer Times 4th Nov 2019
The Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights has identified the suspension of Thailand’s Generalised System of Preferences status with the United States as the primary factor behind a recent mass exodus of Cambodian migrants. “Today, Thailand is faced with the [suspension] of the GSP by the US,” programme officer Dy Thehoya said on Friday. “Companies in Thailand are likely to lose orders and profit.” The Office of the US Trade Representatives in a statement on October 25 said the US will suspend Thailand’s GSP status because it failed to address workers’ rights.

Customs

Thailand seeks clarity on scrapping of US trade preferences Bangkok Post 11th Nov 2019
Thai government and business leaders are seeking clarification from the United States about the planned suspension of $1.3 billion (39.2 billion baht) in trade preferences, ostensibly because of failure to curb labour abuses in the fishery industry. The suspension, to take effect on April 25, will focus on products for which the US is a relatively important market, but where Thailand accounts for a relatively small share of US imports, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement. Eligibility of all Thai seafood products for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) will be revoked due to “longstanding worker rights issues in the seafood and shipping industries”, the statement said. Areas where Thailand was said to remain weak are protection for freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Government to expedite studies on Thai-EU FTA Bangkok Post 11th Nov 2019
The government pledges to speed up studies on the opportunities and challenges in reviving long-delayed trade talks between Thailand and the EU after the Council of the EU said in a statement on Tuesday the bloc aims to resume negotiations with Thailand on a free trade agreement (FTA). Auramon Supthaweethum, the director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations, said the studies on a Thai-EU FTA could possibly be submitted to the cabinet for approval next month. The department is scheduled to hold public hearings nationwide this month and next. Hearings were set for Oct 22 in Chiang Mai, Oct 28 in Songkhla and Nov 7 in Khon Kaen.

European Union aims to resume free trade talks with Thailand Reuters 11th Nov 2019
The European Union aims to resume negotiations with Thailand on a free trade agreement (FTA), the Council of the European Union said in a statement, after suspending trade talks following a 2014 military coup. Thailand held general elections in March and a pro-army coalition of parties has formed a government, officially ending five years of military rule. “The Council now considers it appropriate for the EU to take steps towards broadening its engagement with Thailand,” it said in a statement late on Monday.

US open to talk with Thailand over GSP cuts Seafood Source 8th Nov 2019
The United States is willing to talk with Thailand over its move to suspend benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for Thailand, including those for seafood, before the measure takes effect next year, the Bangkok Post reported Monday, 4 November, quoting Thai government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha discussed the issue with U.S Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who is in a working tour in Southeast Asia, in a meeting over the weekend. Gen Prayut expressed hope that the U.S. will reconsider the decision before it becomes effective given the fact that Thailand is its long-standing ally. The U.S. secretary said the U.S. is open to further talks on the issue, according to Narumon.

Dachser Thailand well prepared for the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (FTA) PR Newswire 31st Oct 2019
Since the upgraded ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (FTA) went into effect in August, there have been some changes in the customs clearance regulations in Thailand. The changes have been put in place to facilitate trade between the ASEAN country and China. These changes also include a simplified and digitalized process which has had a positive impact on cargo arrival. The upgrade also means a reduction in tax for certain commodities. During an event partnering with the German Chamber, Dachser Thailand hosted a customs clearance seminar focusing on the upgraded FTA, as well as the updated regulations. Close to a hundred participants attended the seminar at the Mytt Beach Hotel in Pattaya.

Defense & Security

Thailand Defense Industry Ambition in the Headlines With Technology Transfer Prioritization The Diplomat 14th Nov 2019
Last week, the Thai defense ministry suggested that technology transfer would be prioritized in the country’s defense deals and arrangements under the current government, which secured a controversial election win earlier this year. The development reinforced Thailand’s determination to make inroads on a priority for its wider defense modernization. As I have noted before in these pages, Thailand has been trying to further develop its defense capabilities over the past few years despite the challenges faced in doing so. Thailand’s previous modernization plan for its armed forces, dubbed Vision 2026, articulated various goals, including an ambitious spending target of 2 percent of GDP on defense over the next few years.

Navy to get new drones next year Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
The Royal Thai Navy has confirmed its plan to purchase two sets of Austrian-made vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned air systems (UAS) from Schiebel Group at a cost of 600 million baht. The Camcopter S-100s will be deployed in 2020 to Nakhon Si Thammarat's Pak Phanang district and attached to some of the navy's frigates to carry out land and sea based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (SIR) missions, according to a press released published on Schiebel's website. The purchase contract was signed by the director-general of the Naval Acquisition Management Office, Admiral Prachachart Sirisawat.

Thai king creates boot camp-style 'unity' courses Reuters 8th Nov 2019
Thousands of civil servants, police and teachers are being sent to a military camp in Thailand for intensive training in community service and loyalty to the monarchy, according to the Royal Palace and interviews with trainees and organizers. The program, established last year, highlights the way in which King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 67, is asserting his will on Thai government and society to a greater extent than any sovereign since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, some experts say. Seven program graduates who participated in the “Volunteer Spirit 904” training told Reuters they woke at 5 a.m. for light group exercise, then lined up to practise military-style salutes before classes on the history of Thai kings and training for community service.

Thailand ready to impose curfew in areas of troubled south Washington Post 8th Nov 2019
Thailand’s Cabinet has authorized the imposition of a curfew in areas of the country’s far south where Muslim separatist insurgents are active, just days after they staged a devastating attack. The authorization, signed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and published Friday, came in the wake of coordinated attacks late Tuesday that killed 15 security personnel, mostly lightly armed village defense volunteers. The attacks in Yala province appeared to have inflicted the highest death toll on the government side since the insurgency flared in 2004. Some 7,000 civilians, soldiers, government workers and rebels have died in the violence.

Economics

A win-win for nature and the economy Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year went to three visionary scientists for "creating a rechargeable world". Their works can help recharge the Thai economy too if the government does the right thing to support the lithium-ion industry. Before we discuss policies, let's remember that every time we recharge our mobile phones and laptops, we owe it all to these three great minds: John B Goodenough, M Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino. The fruits of their revolutionary inventions do not stop at our wireless world. At a time when Mother Earth is facing the climate crisis, the development of lithium-ion batteries has paved the way to a fossil-fuel-free world to save humanity. "This lightweight, rechargeable and powerful battery is now used in everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric vehicles. It can also store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, making possible a fossil fuel-free society," lauds the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to honour them with the Nobel Prize.

Govt announces 20 policies to upgrade business environment for foreign investors The Nation Thailand 14th Nov 2019
China has rolled out 20 measures friendly to foreign investors, including further removing business restrictions and leveling the playing field for foreign businesses, to safeguard a more "fair, transparent and predictable" business environment for foreign enterprises. The State Council, China's Cabinet, released a guideline on further improving the utilization of foreign investment on Thursday, with pledge to continue shortening the national and free trade zone negative lists for foreign investment and to eliminate restrictions outside the negative lists, opening up more sectors to foreign investors.

Thai entrepreneurs urged to look at new markets and S-curve businesses The Nation Thailand 14th Nov 2019
Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Exim Thailand) has suggested Thai entreprenuers to tap into new markets and expand investment in S-curve industries to alleviate the trade war impact and boost competitiveness in the New Trade Era. The bank report that global export value has contracted for the first time in three years. In the first half of 2019, global exports shrank by 2.8 per cent or US$268 billion and Thai exports by 2.9 per cent or $3.6 billion, partly as a result of the US-China trade war which has caused a slowdown in exports of most of Thailand's trade partners in Asia and Europe. Faced with a sluggish domestic economy, Thai exporters should diversify their export destinations to new market countries or regions with continued economic growth and little dependence on exports to the US and China.

Southeast Asia's strongest currency baht fights own success Nikkei Asian Review 12th Nov 2019
Thailand is trying to coax the baht down from six-year high territory as the currency's strength threatens local manufacturing and tourism. The central bank has cut interest rates and eased capital controls to rein in emerging Asia's best-performing currency this year. It is an ironic twist for a country that became the epicenter of the 1997 Asian financial crisis after its currency collapsed. Thailand now finds that its relatively sound fundamentals have made it a safe haven for capital in Southeast Asia. This has resulted in a rising currency that renders Thai exports less competitive in the global market and makes the country more expensive for foreigners to go on holiday.

SME revenues surge, riding rapid e-commerce growth The Nation Thailand 8th Nov 2019
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Thailand are enjoying boost in revenues of up to 130 per cent thanks to the growth of e-commerce in the country, according to a new research report published on Thursday (November 7) by Sea, the leading consumer internet company in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. The report, titled “E-commerce & SMEs: Uncovering Thailand’s Hidden Assets” is based on research of some 7,000 shops and sellers nationwide on Shopee, Sea’s e-commerce platform. It was conducted by the Sea Insights team, Sea’s research and public policy unit. It includes in-depth analysis of the effects of e-commerce adoption on sellers’ household income, productivity, and efficiency.

Thai Government Pension Fund to apply ESG screening Pensions & Investments 8th Nov 2019
Thailand’s 956.5 billion baht ($31.7 billion) Government Pension Fund will introduce its own environmental, societal and governance scoring tool for local stocks and bonds by Dec. 31, and begin screening all fund investments using that “ESG lens” in the new year, a senior GPF executive said. Vitai Ratanakorn, GPF’s secretary-general, speaking Wednesday at the GPF-Bloomberg Sustainable Investing Forum in Bangkok, said with the change, GPF “will not invest in a company if we have material concerns on its ESG track record.”

Thailand's Central Group plans to invest 20b baht overseas The Business Times 5th Nov 2019
THAILAND'S top retailer Central Group said on Monday that it plans to invest over 20 billion baht (S$898.3 million) in projects in Vienna, Osaka and Turin, capitalising on a strong local currency. The investment plans can be partly attributed to the strong baht, which has strengthened against most major currencies, the company said. The Thai baht has been Asia's best performing currency so far this year, firming over 7 per cent against the US dollar. Central Group's investments include a joint venture with Austria's Signa Group in a 58,000 square metre luxury mixed-used project in Vienna, which will comprise a hotel, restaurants and retail shops.

PM signals more stimulus packages to lift Thai economy The Thaiger 3rd Nov 2019
The Bank of Thailand will now allow Thai residents to send money overseas to invest directly and the domestic trading in gold in foreign currencies. The Central bank governor Veerathai Santiprabhob says the move should help slow the baht’s worryingly rapid appreciation. The new measures will come into effect tomorrow. Exporters will be allowed to invest their earnings abroad, up to US$200,000 per invoice, up from the current $50,000. The Governor say this figure will rise to $1 million within three months. “This is so exporters can manage their exchange risk better, since they’ll be able to bring their money back when exchange rate is more favourable for them, or they could use their foreign currency for their businesses abroad,” he told a media conference yesterday. Facebook page

Thailand: Second Public Hearing Planned on Draft Act to Reduce Tax Evasion Lexology 1st Nov 2019
The Ministry of Finance has published the “Draft Act to Amend the Revenue Code re: Exchange of Information under International Requests and Automatic Exchange of Information” ("AEOI Act") on the Revenue Department's website, to conduct a second public hearing until 31 October 2019. This version of the AEOI Act has initially been approved by the cabinet and went through the first public hearing during 25 July – 9 August 2018.

Energy

Egat readying country's first FSRU Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
The state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) is preparing to develop the country's first floating storage regasification unit (FSRU) worth 24.5 billion baht to support its business plan to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from 2020. The National Energy Policy Council approved Egat developing this massive investment project in 2017. Egat aims to be an LNG shipper for power generation as the government plans to liberalise the business. PTT Plc has been the sole LNG shipper for more than 30 years.

Thailand promotes use of biofuel to support agriculture VietnamPlus 12th Nov 2019
The Energy Ministry of Thailand has set a time frame to transition to gasohol E20 as the primary petrol grade by early next year to boost the value of commodity crops used in biofuel production. Speaking to the press, Thai Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said the country will use agricultural commodities like palm oil, sugar and cassava to produce biofuel. Gasohol is a biofuel made from cassava and sugar blended with unleaded petrol in proportions of 10 percent, 20 percent or 85 percent. It was introduced to Thai motorists for commercial sale in 2008, followed by E20 and E85 a few years later. Thailand has five categories of petrol: gasohol 91 E10, gasohol 95 E10, gasohol E20, gasohol E85 and premium ULG 95 petrol. The government aims to cut down to just three or four types of petrol.

Energy Ministry sets E20 transition for early 2020 Bangkok Post 8th Nov 2019
The Energy Ministry has set a time frame to transition to gasohol E20 as the primary petrol grade by early next year, while phasing out gasohol 91 to boost the value of commodity crops used in biofuel, says Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong. "We want to make agricultural commodities like palm oil, sugar and cassava have a higher price by using them in biofuels," said Mr Sontirat at the 125th anniversary of Esso (Thailand) Plc in Bangkok o Friday. Gasohol is a biofuel made from cassava and sugar blended with unleaded gasoline in proportions of 10%, 20% or 85%. It was introduced to Thai motorists for commercial sale in 2008, followed by E20 and E85 a few years later.

Cabinet okays Bt3.6 billion to speed up underground power line project The Nation Thailand 8th Nov 2019
The Cabinet on Wednesday (November 6) approved Bt3.6 billion in funding to help the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) speed up the moving of power lines underground in areas along MRT lines, according to deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul. “The project areas total 215.6 kilometres and the MEA has finished just 46.6 km, leaving another169 km to complete,” said the spokeswoman. “The Cabinet has therefore agreed to move the project to the Quick-Win plan and allocated Bt3.673 billion to speed up certain parts of the operation and complete them within 3-4 years.”

1,500 Energy Experts Gather in Bangkok in November to Secure Thailand's Energy Future Oil & Gas 360 4th Nov 2019
On November 27-28, 1,500 renewable energy leaders from across Thailand will come together at The Future Energy Show Thailand 2019, a free-to-attend event to help Thailand achieve its renewable energy potential.

Financial Services

BOT names new assistant governor   The Nation Thailand 8th Nov 2019
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has appointed Roong Mallikamas assistant governor of the central bank, effective tomorrow (November 8). In her new position, Roong will be responsible for financial stability and the corporate strategy group, according to the BOT announcement today (November 7).  Prior to this appointment, she was the senior executive vice president at the state-owned Krung Thai Bank since 2017 and a senior director at the central bank.

Food & Agriculture

Jurin vows long-term support for rubber farmers Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Income guarantee will last as long as the government does, says Democrat minister Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit insisted on Friday that the income guarantee for rubber farmers would continue throughout the entire term of the government. He also promised to widen export markets to help farmers. “The scheme is the country’s first and it took only 98 days for the income guarantee policy to be implemented,” Mr Jurin said at an event staged to hand out cash to rubber farmers under the income guarantee scheme. The government has allocated 24 billion baht to be given to rubber farmers to ensure they have a stable income until March next year.

Korat water shortage 'critical' Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Like in other parts of this northeastern province, water shortage in three districts -- Phimai, Chakarat and Huay Thalaeng -- is now critical as the Lam Chamuak reservoir, their main source water, is drying up, according to local media reports. The reports said the water level in the reservoir at Moo 6 village in tambon Nikhom of Phimai district is now at only 25% of its full capacity of 32 million cubic metres. The reservoir usually supplies water to the three districts, both for agriculture and tap water production.

Farmers despair over chemical ban Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Nakhon Ratchasima province is the country's hub for cassava harvesting as at least 25% of all cassava yields come from this province alone. Many consumers might not be familiar with this root vegetable, but the starchy crop is a crucial raw material for the food industry. Among the farmers in this province's community of cassava growers is Pamorn Sriprasert, who has been growing the vegetable on his 300-rai plot in Nong Bunnak district for over 25 years. Despite the unpredictable market prices of the plant, Mr Pamorn said he was happy with his business until the 26-member National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC) voted on Oct 22 to ban three hazardous chemicals: paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos.

Ministry eyes new farming technology Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Ministry eyes new farming technology The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will find farm machine and innovation technology to help 1.7 million farmers likely to be affected by the ban on three toxic farm chemicals. However, it is also mulling whether it can help them offset higher harvesting costs, estimated to rise 10-fold after the ban takes effect next month. Alongkorn Ponlaboot, adviser to the agriculture minister, said on Wednesday the ministry will focus on helping farmers reduce production costs.

Why Thailand plans to invest billions in smart farming initiatives in 2020 Tech Wire Asia 13th Nov 2019
STATE-OWNED Bangkok Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) has recently announced plans to allocate as much as US$3.3 billion to boost the Thai agriculture sector. Recognizing digitalization as the way forward, BAAC plans to introduce and implement smart farming to 4,500 Thai communities nationwide, starting in 2020. Smart farming, in its essence, is simply the integration of modern information and communication technology (ICT) into agricultural management.

Thailand BOI approves 5 more food innovation sites for investment promotion Cision 1st Nov 2019
Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, BOI Secretary General, said today after a Board meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, that the BOI approved five more Food Innopolis sites as science and technology zones, as proposed by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation.  The additional sites are located in Thammasat University, King Mongkut University of Technology Ladkrabang, Ubon Ratchathani University, Walailak University and Naresuan University. This move will further enhance the network of Food Innopolis previously approved namely Thailand Science Park in Pathum Thani province, Chiang Mai University, Khon Kaen University, Prince of Songkhla University, Kasetsart University, Chulalongkorn University, Mahidol University, and King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi.

‘Real’ farmers reject ministry’s ‘organic’ vision as they seek injunctive relief in court from ban Thai Examiner 1st Nov 2019
Former senior Ministry of Agriculture official gives evidence to the court to support the injunction and suggests that farmers may later be forced to take further legal action for damages against the Thai government for failing to carry out a comprehensive and thorough study into the implications of the pesticide ban and the provision of suitable alternatives to prevent the hardship and loss of income which will result when it goes into effect. Thailand’s Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on on Wednesday highlighted the future growth of ‘organic’ farming in Thailand as he set up a committee to assist farmer’s nationwide with the fallout from the pesticide ban of the widely used substances which Thai farmers groups warn will have a catastrophic effect on agriculture output and livelihoods when it becomes effective on December 1st.

Health & Life Sciences

Govt backs 'no plastic' bid Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Govt backs 'no plastic' bid The cabinet has given the green light for a "no plastic" campaign which will start on Jan 1 next year ahead of a ban on single-use plastic bags in 2021. Speaking after the cabinet meeting in Kanchanaburi on Tuesday, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said the cabinet has approved the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's campaign to end the handing out of single-use plastic bags and will ensure collaboration between related agencies. Ms Narumon said Thailand will ban three types of plastic (microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics) by the end of this year and four others (lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick, styrofoam food containers, plastic cups and plastic straws) by 2022.

Thailand says it is seeking to freely allow medical marijuana The Straits Times 14th Nov 2019
Thailand is speeding up legal changes to liberalise its nascent medical marijuana industry, according to the country's health minister. The changes will allow household cultivation of six cannabis plants to increase supplies for medical products, Mr Anutin Charnvirakul said in a speech in Bangkok late on Wednesday (Nov 13). The move will also give Thais a crop they can grow to boost their incomes, he said. "We are in the process of changing laws to freely allow the medical use of marijuana," he said. "We have high confidence that marijuana will be among the major agricultural products for Thai households. We are speeding up the law changes. But there is a process to it."

Smog returns to greater Bangkok Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Fine dust reached unsafe levels in 14 areas of greater Bangkok with the worst in the city's Phasicharoen and Bang Phlad districts over the past 24 hours, the Pollution Control Department reported on Thursday morning. The levels of particulate matter 2.5 micrometres and less in diameter were measured at 45 stations and readings from 14 stations showed unsafe levels ranging from 51 to 64 microgrammes per cubic metre of air in the 24 hours to 9am. The government-decreed safe threshold is 50mcg. The worst levels were reported along Phetkasem Road in Phasicharoen district and Charansanitwong Road in Bang Phlad district. Measured levels were also unsafe on Kanchanaphisek Road and Rama II Road in Bang Khunthian district, on Din Daeng Road in Din Daeng district, on Rama III-Charoen Krung Road in Bang Kholaem district, on Rama III Road in Yannawa district, on Soi Nikhom Banphak Rodfai Thonburi 5 in Bangkok Noi district, in Thung Wat Don sub-district of Sathon district, in Thung Song Hong sub-district of Laksi district, and in Bang Sue sub-district of Bang Sue district in Bangkok.

No magic pill Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Gummy vitamins are becoming increasingly popular as dietary supplements for kids. But how good are they really? Recently, particularly online, it's likely that you've come across advertising trying to convince parents to buy gummy vitamins for kids. They have slogans like, "Veggie Gummy is delicious! And it gives you the vitamins you need, just like eating vegetables!", or "Boost your immunity with Gummy Vitamin C!". Gummy vitamins are sugarcoated jelly sweets, made to look, feel and taste like regular candies to appeal to children. They have long been popular in the US. Now they are making inroads into Thailand, especially via e-commerce. The products offer a variety of dietary supplements, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, multivitamins, iron and zinc.

Thailand's first certified climate bonds Smart Energy International 12th Nov 2019
Thailand’s green bond potential has been recognised with the issuance of the country’s first Certified Climate Bonds which will finance solar power plants with the potential to generate over 140,000 megawatt-hours of clean energy per annum, as the country strives to achieve its 20% greenhouse gas emissions target. Green bonds are a fixed-income debt instrument used exclusively to finance or refinance new or existing green projects with environmental or climate-related benefits. Global green bond issuances in 2007 were around the $500 million mark, but by 2018 they had shot up to $167.6 billion, although there is still considerable growth potential for green bonds within global and regional bond markets.

Health ministry to provide blood pressure monitors in public places, promoting self-care Pattaya Mail 10th Nov 2019
It is estimated some 13 million Thai people have hypertension, and almost half of these are unaware of their condition, which leads to other complications. In a preventive effort, the Ministry of Public Health has joined hands with related agencies to place 100 automatic blood pressure monitors in public places, allowing the general public to measure their own blood pressure and to monitor risks to their health by themselves.

Chiang Mai - the wellness destination The Thaiger 4th Nov 2019
Resorts in Northern Thailand are quick to adapt, as wellness tourism is on the rise. Many operators now offer packages that include anything from ancient spas, yoga in the forest, and monastery stays to farm-to-table produce, local cooking, Thai kickboxing classes, and mineral hot springs. And they have good reasons for it. Though wellness trips now account for about 7% of all trips taken worldwide, a study by the Global Wellness Institute found wellness tourism is growing fast at 6.5% annually (from 2015-2017). More importantly, wellness holiday makers are also generous spenders. For Thailand, international and domestic tourists spend about 36% more than the average tourist for quality stays that rejuvenate their body and mind.

Healthcare: Why are Thais worried? The ASEAN Post 4th Nov 2019
Earlier this week, The ASEAN Post published an article regarding the 2020 Budget in Thailand. In that article, a study by the Super Poll Research Centre was cited in which 1,069 people from a wide range of occupations nationwide were interviewed between 15 and 19 October. Among the questions asked was how these respondents would like their government to spend money, and the majority, 65.9 percent of the respondents, placed quality healthcare as their top priority. This can seem confusing at first glance, especially to people unfamiliar with Thailand’s healthcare. The truth of the matter is that Thailand has come a long way in terms of providing quality healthcare.

ICT

BoI entices charging stations Bangkok Post 8th Nov 2019
The Board of Investment (BoI) has approved new promotional privileges for charging stations for a wider range of electric modes of transport, including boats, laying the groundwork for infrastructure required for mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). Applicants who invest in at least four chargers, 25% of which are quick-charge, will receive the privilege of five years' corporate income tax exemption. As the chair of the BoI, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha signed off on the investment incentives. The BoI had a previous promotion for charging stations that expired in December 2018. Duangjai Asawachintachit, secretary-general of the BoI, said the government has a clear policy to promote EV adoption and aims to increase the coverage area of EV charging stations.

Thailand’s internet economy to hit 50 billion dollars by 2025 The Thaiger 2nd Nov 2019
Google and Singaporean investment firm Temasek launched a research program into the internet economies of Southeast Asia In 2016 and continue tracking economies in the region. Their “E-Conomy SEA 2019” report shows that Southeast Asia’s internet economy reached 100 billion dollars for the first time this year, with 360 million people now linked to cyberspace – 100 million more than just four years ago. But the region’s internet economy value still only accounts for just 3.7% of the GDP, which represents a huge opportunity for accelerated growth. The report predicts that by 2025, it will triple to 300 billion US dollars.

Thailand unveils 'anti-fake news' center to police the internet Reuters 1st Nov 2019
Thailand unveiled an “anti-fake news” center on Friday, the Southeast Asian country’s latest effort to exert government control over a sweeping range of online content. The move came as Thailand is counting on the digital economy to drive growth amid domestic political tensions, following a March election that installed its junta leader since 2014 as a civilian prime minister. Thailand has recently pressed more cybercrime charges for what it says is misinformation affecting national security. Such content is mostly opinion critical of the government, the military or the royal family.

Suvit calls for Thailand to embrace 5G fast, or lag behind rivals Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2019
Thailand must embrace 5G telecommunication technology or be left behind, Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation said on Wednesday. "There is an ongoing roadmap for 5G planning and implementation globally. Thailand needs to embrace 5G fast otherwise it will lag behind. Our neighbours such as Vietnam already have a 5G implementation plan," Mr Suvit told a seminar titled "5G to Revive Thai SMEs" hosted by the Bangkok Post and Post Today online. 5G, he said, will help business and entrepreneurs achieve "disruptive innovations", continuously transform business models and create new markets and niches because of the technology's higher capacity, which is 100 times that of its predecessor 4G.

New ministry takes on human factor Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2019
Suvit Maesincee is the first minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, the new ministry established as part of the previous government's bureaucratic reforms. The ministry is a merger of the Science and Technology Ministry, the Office of Higher Education Commission, the Office of National Research Council and the Office of Thailand Research Fund. Founded this May, the ministry focuses largely on promoting research for commercial purposes, producing human resources in response to future needs and developing innovation throughout the business cycle.

DES Ministry takes on farms Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2019
The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry has vowed to accelerate digital support for the agricultural sector, bolstering reskilling and upskilling and working with related parties to ease the burden of digital adoption in the hopes of pushing Thailand up the IMD World Digital Competitiveness rankings. The 2019 ranking, which was revealed in September, saw Thailand slip one place to 40th. The ranking covers 63 countries and was commissioned by the IMD World Competitiveness Center, a think tank under the IMD business school in Switzerland and Singapore. The rankings were based on three digital areas: future readiness, knowledge and technology. Thailand's knowledge and technology indicators rose one rank to 43rd and 27th, respectively, while future readiness fell one position to 50th.

Govts urged to 're-skill' workers Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2019
The Asean region is set to experience a skilled labour shortage in the future, due to the mismatch between the qualifications held by existing workers and the skill sets needed to achieve and succeed in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), a seminar was told. The remarks were made by Ingo Imhoff, programme director of the Regional Cooperation Programme to Improve the Quality and Labour Market Orientation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (RECOTVET), at the Asean Business and Investment Summit 2019 on Sunday. Mr Imhoff said preventing this shortage requires "significant investments in skills-based training", which could be more efficiently achieved if governments work together with the private sector and education providers.

Business forum maps out digital future Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2019
Growth in the Asean digital economy is expected to triple to US$240 billion over the next six years thanks to an expanding middle-class population, greater internet access and changing trade models, the Asean Business and Investment Summit 2019 (Abis) was told. Asean needs to embrace digital technology and innovation ahead of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), said Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit at the opening session of Abis under the theme "Empowering Asean 4.0". Broad data access has lead to seamless and limitless communication with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots replacing human workers, he told the conference.

Regulator to add further range to 5G auctions Bangkok Post 5th Nov 2019
The telecom regulator plans to hold an auction for the 3400-3700MHz spectrum range meant for the 5G network by next year, adding a range after announcing auctions for four spectrum ranges in February. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) expects to write to the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry this month, asking it to urge Thaicom Plc, the country's sole satellite service provider, to vacate the range it currently occupies so an auction can be held. NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said the auction on the 3400-3700MHz range will be held next year, taking place after the four spectrum auctions in February.

Big three set to vie for 5G Bangkok Post 5th Nov 2019
All three major mobile operators are expected to compete in the 5G spectrum auctions scheduled for February, particularly for the 2600MHz and 26GHz ranges, to become leading players in the ultra-high-speed wireless technology, says an analyst. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) on Wednesday said the 700MHz, 1800MHz, 2600MHz and 26GHz ranges would have 5G spectrum auctions held on Feb 16. The reserve prices for the four spectrum ranges total 157 billion baht. Pisut Ngamvijitwong, a senior analyst at Kasikorn Securities (KS), said the 2600MHz and 26GHz ranges, with reserve prices of 8.7 billion and 12.4 billion baht per licence, respectively, are likely the lowest figures the telecom regulator could offer. Some 19 licences will be available for the 2600MHz range and 27 licences for the 26GHz range.

Prayut urges quick digital transition Bangkok Post 1st Nov 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered all state agencies to apply big data and speed up transforming their operations to become fully digitalised over the next three years. In his keynote speech at a seminar titled "Digital Government: Significant mechanism to drive the country's development" on Wednesday at the Digital Government Development Agency (DGA), Gen Prayut said state agencies need to accelerate the digitalisation of their working processes according to the digital government development roadmap (2020-2022) that calls for all government agencies to become fully digitalised by 2022.

Feb 16 date for 5G bids Bangkok Post 31st Oct 2019
The telecom regulator has announced the debut auction of 5G spectrum on Feb 16 for four bands to accelerate availability of the ultra-high-speed wireless technology nationwide. The four spectrum ranges are 700MHz, 1800MHz, 2600MHz and 26GHz. At least 157 billion baht is expected to be obtained from the auctions. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said the ranges most coveted by mobile operators are 2600MHz and 26GHz, as they have been used for 5G technology globally. The 2600MHz range is divided into 19 licences, each of which contains 10MHz of bandwidth with a reserve price of 1.86 billion baht. The 19 licences are worth 35.3 billion baht in total.

Infrastructure

Four new stations on Skytrain green line to open next month The Nation Thailand 14th Nov 2019
Sakoltee Phattiyakul, deputy Bangkok governor along with representatives from the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA), Bangkok Mass Transit System Pcl (BTSC) and Krungthep Thanakom (KT) welcomed members of the media on Wednesday (November 13) afternoon to the test run of the Skytrain green line extension from Mo Chit to Khu Khot. A joint project of these three organizations, the extension covers Satri Woranat, Ratchayothin, Sena Nikhom and Kasetsart University stations and is scheduled to open next month.The test run started from Ha Yaek Lat Phrao station (N9) and finished at Kasetsart University station (N13). “We operated this test run to show the press and general public that the train runs smoothly without any problems, and the section will be ready to open early December as scheduled,” Sakoltee said, adding that the extension should help relieve the traffic congestion from the Lat Phrao intersection to Saphan Mai, an area packed with several schools, government buildings and residential areas.

Infrastructure funds thrive amid low interest rates Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Infrastructure funds thrive amid low interest rates As interest rates continue to be low, infrastructure funds remain attractive investment tools, with a 17.9% surge in their aggregrated market capitalisation during the first 10 months this year. Eight infrastructure funds had a combined market capitalisation of 406 billion baht, up from 345 billion at the end of last year. Market capitalisation can be used to measure securities performance if these stocks do not raise capital. The Digital Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (DIF) was the top performer among its infrastructure fund peers, gaining 36.4% to 189 billion baht at the end of October from 139 billion at the end of last year, according to data compiled by Kasikorn Securities.

Blue Line link trial to start next month Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
The Bang Sue-Tha Phra extension of the MRT mass-transit line will open for a public trial run next month, completing the Blue Line's planned loop around the centre of Bangkok. The new 13-kilometre stretch, which charges up to 42 baht per ride, connects to the Hua Lamphong-Lak Song extension, which opened in late September. It has seven stations. The new extension is in the testing and pre-opening stages before its official launch early next year, said Witoon Hatairatana, deputy managing director of railway system operation and engineering at Bangkok Expressway and Metro Plc (BEM), the operator of the MRT lines.

SRT unveils details of high-speed railways contract The Nation Thailand 8th Nov 2019
State Railway of Thailand (SRT)’s acting governor Worawut Mala revealed on Wednesday (Nov 6) the preliminary details of the high-speed railway project linking three international airports: Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi in Samut Prakan and U-tapao in Rayong. “After the project bid winner CP consortium signed the contract with SRT on October 24, the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy Committee ordered that SRT must unveil contract details to the public in a simple form within 30 days to ensure the transparency of this public-private partnership,” he said.

Progress expected in clearing obstacles of Thailand's first HSR NST Online 4th Nov 2019
MORE progress is expected to be made in clearing the hurdles standing in the way of Thailand's first high speed railway (HSR) linking Bangkok and China when the premiers of the two nations meet tomorrow. With the first phase of the 873 km high speed railway expected to begin operating within four years, there are still some nagging issues yet to be sorted out especially those relating to cost, warranty and also after sales service. The first phase is a 252 km leg connecting Bangkok and the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima. China views the project as part of its Belt and Road Initiative while Thailand sees it as part of its plan to make the nation a transport hub in South East Asia.

Manufacturing

Large companies still dominant locally Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
The top 5% of companies by revenue account for 85% of Thailand's business sector revenue, while medium-sized companies have been restricted in funding accessibility and small firms have low productivity, according to the Bank of Thailand's think tank. Revenue concentration of these large companies has lingered for more than 10 years, said Archawa Paweenawat, principal researcher of the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research (Pier). Moreover, these large companies enjoy a 46% share of sales and 60% share of profit among all Thai business operators, Mr Archawa said. The top 5% by revenue this year are in wholesale, retail, auto manufacturing and oil refining, he said.

American firms looking at relocating production bases to Thailand amid US-China trade war The Nation Thailand 8th Nov 2019
US business leaders on a visit to Thailand are seeking opportunities, especially potential relocation of their production bases, as they manage risks stemming from the US-China trade war, director-general of the Finance Ministry’s Fiscal Policy Office Lavaron Sangsnit said on Tuesday (September 5). US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the delegation of executives representing 16 American companies met Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana to discuss trade and investment between the two countries on the sidelines of Asean Summit on Monday. US firms are interested in investing in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the government’s flagship project.

Thailand is a 'leading beneficiary' of the trade war, says Standard Chartered CNBC 5th Nov 2019
Thailand is a "leading beneficiary" of the trade fight between the U.S. and China, according to Standard Chartered's Clive McDonnell. "We've seen plenty of evidence of companies, in particular Japanese companies, trying to shift production out of China and into other (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries," McDonnell, who is head of equity strategy at Standard Chartered Private Bank, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Friday. Thailand has benefited from the disruptions in supply chains caused by the trade war, he said. In the past year or so, Washington and Beijing have slapped higher tariffs on each other's goods, and companies that have been producing their goods in China have had to look for manufacturing facilities elsewhere to circumvent those tariffs.

Chonburi manufacturers suspend operations, workers laid off The Thaiger 4th Nov 2019
Thailand’s division of the Nippon Steel Steel Processing Company, in Rayong province, says they will suspend operations, temporarily, starting November 9, citing a steady drop in steel sales. Japan’s local affiliate Nippon Steel, says that, if all its employees work full-time, the company’s output of steel will far exceed customer demand. “This makes it necessary to suspend operations at its main office and at its factory from November 9, in accordance with the Labour Protection Act.” The company is assuring employees that they will receive 75% of their monthly salaries during the suspension. They also said the company may need to retain some employees on full time work and they will be paid as normal. The company did not say how long the suspension will last.

Travel & Tourism

PM proposes holding world music festival to woo tourists The Nation Thailand 14th Nov 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has suggested that Thailand organise a music festival featuring the world’s leading musicians in order to woo music-loving tourists to the Kingdom. He added that he had pondered on this matter for a long time. The premier made the remark after a meeting with the Board of Trade of Thailand on Thursday (November 14) on the issue of promoting tourism.

Major hotels planned for Phuket, Pattaya seen as boon for MICE trade The Nation Thailand 14th Nov 2019
Integrated lifestyle real-estate group Asset World Corp (AWC) and Marriott International will bring three global brands to Pattaya and Phuket, aiming to create a new destination of world-class MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) hotels and facilities for both business and leisure travellers. AWC Centre Pattaya will combine facilities for meetings, conventions and accommodations with luxury shopping and spaces for inspiring art and and entertainment.  It will consist of the Pattaya Marriott Marquis Hotel and JW Marriott the Pattaya Beach Resort & Spa. Courtyard by Marriott Phuket Town is meanwhile designed to set a new benchmark for stylish and upscale accommodations on the globally acclaimed island paradise.

Survey reveals that Airbnb's guests spend a small fortune at local restaurants The Nation Thailand 14th Nov 2019
According to new survey findings and an analysis of internal data released today (November 11), Airbnb's guest community spent at least an estimated Bt808 billion at restaurants and cafes in 2018 based on data for 46 countries and regions alone. If spending levels remain the same, Airbnb guests are estimated to spend more than Bt940 billion at restaurants and cafes in these same locations in 2019. In Thailand, a country famous for its cuisine and culinary experiences, Airbnb guests spent more than Bt6.8 billion at restaurants and cafes in 2018.

Thais urged to spend in new tourism scheme Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging all Thais to take part in the "Travel Thailand with 100 Baht" tourism programme to help spur the economy. Between Nov 11 and Dec 31, any Thai citizens aged 18 and over can buy of out of 40,000 gifts — which range from air tickets to hotel vouchers, car rentals to spa packages — for only 100 baht. The only requirement is that the item purchased must be located outside the buyer's home province. The scheme, Gen Prayut said, will help the government put more money into circulation. Each person wishing to participate must first register their details on the programme's official website, choose a gift, and pay using PromptPay or a credit card. Registration will be opened between Nov 11-12 and Dec 11-12.

Transport Ministry greenlights luggage handling hike for airport taxis The Nation Thailand 8th Nov 2019
The Transport Ministry has agreed to the hike in the luggage handling fee to Bt20 per piece of luggage 26 inches in length or larger, though the first two pieces would be handled for free. More than 100 members of the Thai Public Taxi Association and the Task Force for Organising Service Vehicles at Suvarnabhumi Airport blocked the entrance to the Transport Ministry on Thursday (November 7) to demand a response to their request for hikes in fares and luggage-handling fees but dispersed around 3.40pm, apparently satisfied with the results of negotiations with Ministry representatives announced by association president Pallop Chayinthu.

Thai cave where 12 boys were trapped reopens as tourist attraction Stuff 8th Nov 2019
The Tham Luang cave in Thailand, which was the site of an elaborate rescue mission to extract 12 boys and their football coach, is now open to the public as a tourist attraction. The Chiang Rai Public Relations Office announced on Friday that the entrance of the cave complex would begin to welcome tourists. The office said that the 30 people would be allowed to enter the area at a time, with a maximum capacity of 2000 people per day.

Taxi drivers rally at ministry Bangkok Post 7th Nov 2019
About 200 cabbies gathered with their vehicles outside the Transport Ministry in Bangkok on Thursday, repeating several demands including higher fares and a longer service life for their vehicles. They parked about 100 taxis in front of the ministry on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, and sent representatives to talk with Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob. Taxi driver Chamroon Juprakhone said they had filed four demands in August and the Transport Ministry and its Land Transport Department had still not responded to any of them. They want the ministry to allow an increase in fare rates and the airport surcharge, extend the service life of taxis from nine to 12 years, terminate the Taxi OK project that requires costly tracking devices, cameras and SOS functions on newly registered taxis, and allow individual taxi drivers to register for the Taxi VIP service, which charges higher fares. 

Thai national landmark 'ICONSIAM' marks first anniversary as game-changer destination, revitalising Bangkok's riverfront and Thonburi district Yahoo Finance 31st Oct 2019
Thailand's new riverside landmark destination, ICONSIAM, today, marked its first anniversary with national and commercial leaders who lauded the destination for creating a new axis of development along the Chao Phraya River that passes through Bangkok and for revitalizing the city's Thonburi district. Mrs. Chadatip Chutrakul, Director, ICONSIAM Co., Ltd. and Chief Executive Officer of ICONSIAM joint-venture partner Siam Piwat Co., Ltd., said, "ICONSIAM is a game-changing destination that has successfully turned the Chao Phraya River and the Thonburi side of the city into one of Bangkok's business and tourism hubs, spreading prosperity to surrounding communities and businesses while becoming a key factor behind the rapid rise of Thonburi as a metropolis."