Thailand Update: April 20, 2020

Thailand Update | April 20, 2020
Authors: Hai Pham, Natalie Tantisirirat, Ingyin
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

April 21 ET/April 22 ICT: Video Conference Call with U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael G. DeSombre.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Thailand’s 1.9 Trillion Baht COVID-19 Stimulus Package

On April 6, the Government of Thailand’s cabinet approved a third economic stimulus package worth 1.9 trillion baht (US$ 58 billion). The Ministry of Finance will provide 1 trillion baht while the Bank of Thailand will contribute 900 billion baht. 600 billion baht from the Ministry of Finance would aid temporary workers, contract workers and those self-employed who have been affected by the ramifications of the virus and consequences of social distancing. Monthly cash handouts of 5000 baht to nine million workers are also scheduled to run from April to June. The remaining 400 billion baht will be directed towards creating jobs and investing in community infrastructure.

The Bank of Thailand will disburse up to 500 million baht to SMEs with a 2% annual interest. Additionally, the central bank will allow a 6-month debt moratorium for loans less than 100 million baht. To aid investors refinance markets, 400 billion would be used to set up the Corporate Bond Liquidity Stabilization Fund.  Earlier last month, the Bank of Thailand predicted that the country’s economic contraction from the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be the biggest since the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis The latest initiative is believed to represent approximately 9% of the country's GDP, with the central bank standing ready to assist further as appropriate. 

Update on Food Production, Bans & Suspensions

Alcohol

To discourage social gatherings in a traditionally social period of Songkran- Thailand’s traditional new year holiday- a temporary ban on sales of alcoholic beverages have been in place in Bangkok. The restriction initially ran from April 10 to April 20, but that ban has now been extended to April 30. According to the Ministry of Interior, all seventy-seven provinces have already placed similar measures regarding sale of beer, wine and spirits until April 15 or until the end of the month.  Accordingly, Songkran celebrations have also been postponed to later in the year. A full list of the nationwide ban of alcohol sales can be accessed here.

Rice

The Trade Policy and Strategy Office under the Ministry of Commerce notes that it is unlikely for Thailand to experience food and rice shortages. It stresses that a mere 32% of local rice production is directed to exports, and that 50% is kept for local consumption. Panic buying has ensued despite assurance by both state and local authorities, prompting regulation for production of eggs and rice. Temporary ban of egg exports until the end of April along with the distribution of over 34,000 tons of seeds to rice farmers across the country have been enacted. The unparalleled demand for rice despite assured adequate supply has resulted in a seven-year high increase in rice prices as exporters curb outputs while importers stockpile. In Thailand, the price of the 5% broken white rice- benchmark for rice sales- rose to US$ 560 – US$ 570 per ton according to rice exporters. Under normal circumstances, prices usually vary under US$500 per ton. Regional demand is also expected to increase, providing a more positive outlook for the grain industry in Thailand. As neighboring India endures a month-long nationwide lockdown, and as Vietnam initially banned rice exports and later revised its export quota, Thailand looks to fill in the gaps. The Thai Rice Exporters Association has shared that it sees no signs of curbing rice exports in the immediate future, further citing that it is expecting to export 7-8 tonnes of rice this year.

Partial Opening of Mekong Ports

As of April 4, the governor of Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost province, has decided to reopen four ports along the Mekong River to resume trade with China. He claims that the decision has been weighed in accordance with improvement observed in China as it deals with the pandemic. Operation in the four ports will be limited to three days a week, and travelers are prohibited for the time being.  Closure of seaports in Thailand that serve as cargo terminals and border crossings has resulted in moderate disruption of supply chains. The brief shortage of essential goods is also thought to affect nearby border towns of Myanmar which rely on imports from Thailand.  Since mid-March, Thai authorities have closed all of the country's border checkpoints with neighboring Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. The Interior Ministry has ordered that border provinces only leave one international check-point to facilitate cross-border trade.   Thailand’s Ministry of Health is also reported to have said it is considering proposing that some measures imposed to curb the coronavirus’ spread could be eased, in up to 32 provinces in Thailand where no cases have been reported in the last two weeks. This would include re-opening markets and malls next month, but not entertainment venues.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Rule relaxed for legal migrant workers

National Affairs
THAI Smile to halt domestic flights from Tuesday
Nationwide night curfew starts Friday

ASEAN
Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region

COVID-19
MDES joins hands with HUAWEI, provides 5G solution and AI Technology
Thailand News: Free treatment for all virus patients
New virus app a powerful tool
NBTC begins funding of 41 hospitals
'Ninja' robots to help treat infected
AIA Thailand partners with True Digital Group and Samitivej to launch Virtual COVID-19 Clinic

Customs
Thailand Reopens Mekong Ports to Allow Essential Goods From China
Customs seizes large haul of medical and protective gear
FDA clears path for more facemask makers, importers

Defense & Security
Pacific Pathways in Thailand ongoing amid pandemic

Economics
Thailand Plans $30.5 Billion Borrowing for Latest Stimulus
Govt plans more stimulus, monetary policy flexibility

Energy
Thailand Issues Regulations for Procurement of Electricity from Very Small Power Plants
Canal service gets new lease on life
Thai Super Energy to invest $457 million in four solar power plants in Vietnam

Financial Services
Digital payments nearly double in March amid virus outbreak

Food & Agriculture
Thailand extends alcohol ban, health ministry says some measures could be eased
Thailand bans sale of alcoholic drinks in war on COVID-19
Thailand rice, corn production bounces back
Thailand's curfew unlikely to disrupt sugar exports on 'essential service' rating
There will be 'no food shortages'
Thai rice export prices soar to seven years high
Thailand’s COVID-19 ‘war’: Local food production centre of focus as government guarantees supplies
Asia Rice-Thai rates bounce to 7-yr high as virus limits exports from other hubs
Rice exports seen rising as virus outbreak troubles competitors

Health & Life Sciences
BoI ramps up privileges for local medical equipment
Covid-19 hastening end to unwanted pregnancies
Rajavithi offers telemedicine service through app
Dengue fever an added threat to lives
CP ready to start producing masks now that materials have arrived
Academic hails health charter as key to stemming virus outbreak
Covid-19 now covered by Bt30 health scheme

ICT
10GB data handout launches Friday
Thailand Delta Electronics PCL to establish subsidiary in Viet Nam this year

Infrastructure
Thailand plans $33 billion public-private investment projects
Deferral sought on signing rail contract
New SRT chief vows to cut debt
NESDC ordered to rejig strategies
Labour Ministry readying more help
Property outlook negative
Mixed-use projects drive Lat Phrao

Manufacturing
Final stages before CP start punching out face masks in Thailand

Travel & Tourism
Eight airlines to meet Minister Uttama on loans
CAAT extends flight ban
Foreigners' visas automatically extended
Incoming flight ban extended to April 18

Vietnam
Extra efforts made to sign RCEP in Vietnam in late 2020

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Rule relaxed for legal migrant workers Bangkok Post 1st Apr 2020
The Labour Ministry is to allow Cambodian, Lao and Myanmar workers stranded due to border closure to continue working beyond the expiration of their work permits. The decision would benefit 108,586 migrant workers. The migrant workers are allowed to continue with their work until the border reopens, the minister said.

National Affairs

THAI Smile to halt domestic flights from Tuesday Bangkok Post 3rd Apr 2020
THAI Smile Airways will temporarily suspend all domestic flights from Tuesday until the end of the month, the airline said on Friday. The airline said it decided to cease operating on all domestic routes until April 30 in line with government restrictions on travel in the campaign against the spread of the coronavirus.  Thai AirAsia has suspended all international services until April 25 and domestic flights until April 30. Bangkok Airways halted international services from March 22 until further notice. It also reduced domestic flights and temporarily closed its lounges at Suvarnabhumi and other airports. Nok Air has suspended services from Bangkok to Nanning, Chengdu, Hiroshima and Yangon until April 30. Direct flights from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City will be halted until May 31. Thai Lion Air has suspended all domestic and international flights until April 30.

Nationwide night curfew starts Friday Bangkok Post 2nd Apr 2020
All people in Thailand are banned from leaving home from 10pm to 4am starting April 3 in the government’s latest move to contain the spread of coronavirus. Medical and banking personnel, as well as logistic workers handling consumer products, farm goods, pharmaceutical products, medical supplies and equipment, newspapers, petrol, postal parcels, or products to be imported or exported are exempted. Other exemptions are people working normal night shifts or those heading to or from airports with necessary documents stating the purposes, or officials working by the announcements or orders and those allowed by officials to leave the house on emergencies. Violation will result in a jail term of not more than two years and/or a fine not more than 40,000 baht.

ASEAN

Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region Khmer Times 10th Apr 2020
In the 25th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting via video conference Thursday, ASEAN foreign ministers agreed on the establishment of a response to help all member states alleviate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives behind the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, according to a press release from Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, is to mobilise financial resources to address the shortage in medical supplies and to support the research and development of COVID-19. The fund also aims to prepare the member state for responding to future emergencies.

COVID-19

MDES joins hands with HUAWEI, provides 5G solution and AI Technology Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
The Digital Economy and Society Ministry, together with Huawei Technologies (Thailand) Co., Ltd., are providing AI-assisted solutions with 5G technology to Siriraj Hospital with the aim of enabling output diagnosis results automatically, quickly, and correctly through a high-speed network. This world-class technology will strengthen Thai medical staff capabilities to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic effectively.

Thailand News: Free treatment for all virus patients The Phuket News Com 11th Apr 2020
Under a Public Health Ministry announcement, all hospitals, public and private, must do their best to treat COVID-19 patients without delay until they are out of immediate danger or transferred to other hospitals based on their coverage. They may not charge the patients but can bill the National Health Security Office (NHSO) later. A patient will have to pay medical bills only when he chooses not to be treated at the hospital he is entitled to use.

New virus app a powerful tool Bangkok Post 10th Apr 2020
A new mobile app, Mor Chana, has been launched as a powerful tool to help people assess their coronavirus infection risk, assist health authorities in tracking users in close contact with infected people and prevent transmission among healthcare workers. The app is the result of collaboration between state organisations and private developers. Data drawn from the app will be analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI) systems to assist with continuing epidemiological studies by the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

NBTC begins funding of 41 hospitals Bangkok Post 9th Apr 2020
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) plans to start providing 345 million baht to 41 qualified state hospitals today in an assistance scheme to combat the pandemic. The 41 hospitals are the first segment to be qualified to receive assistance from the NBTC. A total of 273 hospitals have sought financial assistance from the telecom regulator, which earlier approved using 1 billion baht from its fiscal 2020 budget and the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research Fund to support hospitals fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

'Ninja' robots to help treat infected Bangkok Post 8th Apr 2020
Chulalongkorn University has launched a line of robots to assist medical staff in providing telehealthcare to Covid-19 patients as the number of local infections continues to rise. "The country is now at war with a virus which can infect anybody. We will send an army of robots to help hospitals nationwide," Bundhit Eua-arporn, the president of Chulalongkorn University, told a press conference yesterday at Chulalongkorn University Alumni Association (CUAA).

AIA Thailand partners with True Digital Group and Samitivej to launch Virtual COVID-19 Clinic MobiHealthNews 8th Apr 2020
AIA Thailand, which is part of AIA, the largest public listed pan-Asian life insurance group, announced that it has launched a free-of-charge ‘Virtual COVID-19 Clinic’, in collaboration with True Digital Group, a subsidiary of True Corporation, a leading communications conglomerate in Thailand and Samitivej, a private hospital brand in Thailand with a network of eight hospitals and owned by Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS). The special consultation service was created for those with may display symptoms of COVID-19 or at high risk of contracting of the coronavirus. These include those travelling back from high risk countries or having contact with high risk people.

Customs

Thailand Reopens Mekong Ports to Allow Essential Goods From China Khaosod English 3rd Apr 2020
Thailand has lifted its ban to close four ports at the Mekong River to allow essential goods to be shipped to and from China as Thailand is currently facing the COVID-19 outbreak. The four ports, including cargo terminals and border crossing, were closed since March 21 to curb the virus outbreak, leaving only two bridges over the Mekong River in Chiang Kong and Mae Sai districts to remain open. However Chiang Rai Governor Prajon Pratyakul said on Thursday that he had decided to lift the ban as essential goods shipped from China, were necessary to assist those impacted by the pandemic. The governor also said that the temporary closures of the ports have resulted in cargo pile-up at port terminals and shortages of daily necessities, not only in Thailand but also in Myanmar’s border towns that rely on imports from Thailand. The operations of the ports are however limited to only three days a week, the governor said. Travelers are still not allowed port entry.

Customs seizes large haul of medical and protective gear Bangkok Post 20th Apr 2020
Customs officials have seized millions of baht worth of smuggled face masks, thermometers and other protective gear from a transport firm in Muang district of this northeastern province. Officials were sent to the company's premises on the Mukdahan-Nakhon Phanom bypass road in Muang district on Friday following a tip-off that many untaxed face masks and other products were stored there, said Sirichai Khunabut, director of the Customs Office Region 2.

FDA clears path for more facemask makers, importers The Nation Thailand 2nd Apr 2020
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced fast-track registration to allow entrepreneurs to manufacture or import protective facemasks and help meet continually rising demand. FDA deputy secretary-general Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat said several entrepreneurs are interested in importing masks while the Covid-19 situation persists. “The FDA requires entrepreneurs who wish to import or produce facemasks to obtain its permission first,” he said. “Prospective importers can complete this fast-track registration within one day if the proper documents about the manufacturer and the product are submitted, such as labelling, design details and intended purpose.”

Defense & Security

Pacific Pathways in Thailand ongoing amid pandemic Army Times 2nd Apr 2020
US soldiers in Thailand for the Army’s Pacific Pathways program have continued training, though in smaller groups, as the coronavirus pandemic curtails military exercises elsewhere. While training is ongoing, the U.S. soldiers and their Royal Thai Army counterparts have relegated it to the squad-level. However, the Americans still plan to train until their return to Hawaii in May, which is also still on track. The task force is comprised of soldiers from multiple units, including engineer companies, an artillery battery, support companies and an aviation element. Pacific Pathways is one program the Army secretary and chief of staff have recently talked about expanding to increase the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific region and court more partners as part of a larger Pentagon strategy aimed at China.

Economics

Thailand Plans $30.5 Billion Borrowing for Latest Stimulus Bloomberg 7th Apr 2020
Thailand plans new borrowing of 1 trillion baht ($30.6 billion) for its latest stimulus package to tackle the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.The package is worth about 1.9 trillion baht overall as it also includes 900 billion baht of steps by the Bank of Thailand, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said in a briefing Tuesday in Bangkok. Implementation of the revised borrowing plan is due from May and will take place in several rounds by September 2021, the administration said, adding that 80 billion baht to 100 billion baht of existing budget funds will be reallocated to tackle the fallout of Covid-19.

Govt plans more stimulus, monetary policy flexibility Bangkok Post 3rd Apr 2020
The overall planned stimulus package, including steps like loans, amounts to 10% of gross domestic product. It would be funded by new borrowing and reallocation of the existing budget. The third package would be equivalent to about $50 billion based on the size of the Thai economy last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The amount banks pay to a financial bailout fund will be cut to 0.23% of deposits annually. The change in the amount commercial banks pay into the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) will last for two years once approved. The Bank of Thailand has cut interest rates to a record low of 0.75% this year and injected liquidity to stabilize financial markets.

Energy

Thailand Issues Regulations for Procurement of Electricity from Very Small Power Plants Tilleke & Gibbins 15th Apr 2020
Thailand has issued a new regulation setting out criteria and conditions for power purchase agreements (PPAs) for very small power producers (VSPPs) under the Community Power Plants for the Local Economy project—part of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand’s (EGAT) Energy Policy for the Local Economy. The Regulation Re: Procurement of Electricity from Very Small Power Producers was issued on April 2, 2020, by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and published in the Government Gazette on April 10, 2020.

Canal service gets new lease on life Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
Covid-19 may have brought most social activities and businesses to a halt, but the government's march to develop Thailand's transport infrastructure pushes on. For example, the Ministry of Transport decided to take advantage of the absence of passengers to upgrade Bangkok's Don Mueang airport, so it could better serve travellers once the outbreak subsides. But most recently, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on March 30 approved a plan to purchase electric boats to serve commuters along Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem in Bangkok's Old Town.

Thai Super Energy to invest $457 million in four solar power plants in Vietnam Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th Apr 2020
Thai-listed energy firm Super Energy Corporation has recently announced that it would invest in four solar power plants in Binh Phuoc province, Vietnam with the total capacity of 750MW. Accordingly, Super Energy Corporation would pay approximately $73 million to purchase controlling stakes of 70-100 per cent of the four Loc Ninh 1-4 solar plants through a subsidiary in Vietnam. The total transaction value would be no more than $457 million, cited from its regulatory filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand. After the investment in the solar plants, the $384 million is set to be poured into the construction which is already underway and will be finished by the end of this year.

Financial Services

Digital payments nearly double in March amid virus outbreak Bangkok Post 1st Apr 2020
Thailand's digital payments jumped 93% in March from a year earlier, the central bank said on Wednesday, as the coronavirus outbreak pushes up demand for online services. The number of transactions made via the PromptPay platform averaged about 11 million per day in March, up from 5.7 million per day in the same period last year, the central bank said. The highest daily transactions were 15 million on March 31, it said. Thailand has recorded 1,771 cases of the coronavirus and 12 deaths. A state of emergency was enforced on March 26, and people have been asked to stay home to limit the spread of the virus.

Food & Agriculture

Thailand extends alcohol ban, health ministry says some measures could be eased Reuters 20th Apr 2020
Thailand extended a nationwide ban on alcohol sales until April 30 as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 2,792 on Monday, but the health ministry suggested some measures could soon be eased. The extension of the alcohol ban will help control the spread of the coronavirus by discouraging social gatherings, said Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, spokesman for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. All other provinces have also extended the ban to the end of the month, an Interior Ministry official said.

Thailand bans sale of alcoholic drinks in war on COVID-19 ABC News 10th Apr 2020
Thailand is trying a new tactic in its battle against the new coronavirus: banning the sale of alcoholic beverages to try to curb irresponsible socializing. Bangkok’s ban, which started Friday and runs until April 20, had the unintended effect of creating crowds and long lines at stores as people stocked up in the few hours between the ban's announcement and its going into effect.

Thailand rice, corn production bounces back World Grain 8th Apr 2020
Thailand’s rice and corn production is expected to recover from weather and pest problems, according to a March 13 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thailand’s 2020-21 market year rice production is expected to jump 17% to 21 million tonnes, compared to 2019-20, when the crop struggled with unfavorable weather conditions, the USDA said.

Thailand's curfew unlikely to disrupt sugar exports on 'essential service' rating S&P Global Platts 8th Apr 2020
Thai sugar exports are unlikely to be impacted by the country's nationwide night curfew as the transportation of sugar from mills to ports has been classified as an essential service, Thai trade sources said Wednesday. "Workers moving agricultural goods like rice or sugar from one place to another are still able to do so, but they will require official documentation from their companies to justify," a source close to a Thai mill said. The Thai government imposed a nationwide 10 pm-4 am curfew last Friday as part of a ramp-up in restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

There will be 'no food shortages' Bangkok Post 8th Apr 2020
The Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) has assured there will be no shortage of food supplies in the country even though the Covid-19 pandemic may force the government to adopt stricter methods to curb transmissions. OAE secretary-general Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs said the agency has discussed the situation with the Commerce Ministry, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand. They would ensure there are no shortages in food supplies and essential goods if a lockdown is imposed. He added that production currently stands at 60% of total capacity.

Thai rice export prices soar to seven years high Business Recorder 7th Apr 2020
Thai rice export prices soared to their highest in seven years this week on expectations of a sales boost after top exporter India went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus and main rival Vietnam temporarily banned new export contracts. Thailand's benchmark 5% broken white rice was quoted around $560-$570 per tonne on Thursday, its highest level since April 2013.

Thailand’s COVID-19 ‘war’: Local food production centre of focus as government guarantees supplies foodnavigator-asia.com 6th Apr 2020
Although Thailand has not yet formally ordered for a lockdown throughout the country, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared a nationwide State of Emergency on March 25 after the country saw 934 COVID-19 cases and four deaths, and also imposed a nationwide curfew from 10pm to 4am starting on April 3... “Please don’t panic and hoard goods because you can come out to buy them in the daytime as usual.”​

Asia Rice-Thai rates bounce to 7-yr high as virus limits exports from other hubs Successful Farming 2nd Apr 2020
Thai rice export prices soared to their highest in seven years this week on expectations of a sales boost after top exporter India went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus and main rival Vietnam temporarily banned new export contracts. Thailand's benchmark 5% broken white rice was quoted around $560-$570 per tonne on Thursday, its highest level since April 2013.

Rice exports seen rising as virus outbreak troubles competitors Bangkok Post 1st Apr 2020
Thai rice exporters expect to increase sales as the spread of coronavirus sparks global food security concerns and major competitors face export bans or go into lockdown to battle the outbreak. The kingdom now sees a better outlook after the virus outbreak sent India into a three-week lockdown and Vietnam, the world's third-largest exporter, banned new rice export contracts last week to ensure domestic supply. The Thai Rice Exporters Association told Reuters that there is currently no sign Thailand will limit rice exports, as no measure was discussed with the Ministry of Commerce earlier last week. Thailand, which usually produces just over 20 million tonnes of rice each year, consumes about 10 million tonnes domestically and exports the rest.

Health & Life Sciences

BoI ramps up privileges for local medical equipment Bangkok Post 14th Apr 2020
The Board of Investment (BoI) approved additional privileges on Monday for medical devices and related industries, with a reduction in corporate income tax by 50% for three years. Additional privileges aim to induce investors to rev up producing medical equipment for the domestic market, as demand surges because of the pandemic. Duangjai Asawachintachit, secretary-general of BoI, said additional privileges are for eligible projects submitting investment applications to the BoI from Jan 1 to June 20, 2020.

Covid-19 hastening end to unwanted pregnancies Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
Koi, a 39- year-old vendor, decided to terminate her pregnancy after her family's earnings plummeted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Somchai Kaemthong, director of PPAT's information and public relations department, said PPAT works under the medical guidelines and practices of the Medical Council, saying women can have an abortion if they are no more than 12 weeks pregnant and they must give their consent before. The PPAT is a pioneer in family planning in Thailand. First registered in 1970, it will mark its 50th anniversary tomorrow. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unintended pregnancies remain an important public health issue. Globally, 74 million women in low and middle-income countries have unintended pregnancies annually. This leads to 25 million unsafe abortions and 47,000 maternal deaths every year.

Rajavithi offers telemedicine service through app The Nation Thailand 10th Apr 2020
Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok has launched a telemedicine service through an application Me-More, for the convenience of people who have passed the hospital’s risk test, to be screened online by doctors. Interested people must fill an online questionnaire at http://covid19.rajavithi.go.th on Covid-19 risk. The at-risk persons will receive a code for seeing doctors.

Dengue fever an added threat to lives The Nation Thailand 10th Apr 2020
The Department of Disease Control (DDC) is warning people to beware of dengue fever, after rains in several regions of Thailand has resulted in an abundance of mosquitos. Dr Asadang Ruayajin, DDC’s deputy director general, said that since January 1 to April 7, 8,147 people in the provinces of Ang Thong, Rayong and Phichit have been infected with dengue fever and four have died from the disease so far.

CP ready to start producing masks now that materials have arrived The Nation Thailand 10th Apr 2020
Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) said on Thursday (April 9) that the chartered flight from China carrying a mask-manufacturing machine and meltblown non-woven fibre has arrived in Thailand. Recently CP’s senior chairman Dhanin Chearavanont said he has invested about Bt100 million to build a factory to produce surgical face masks for medical personnel and the general public. These masks will be distributed for free.CP officials said the import of the machine and material has been tough because countries are now competing for mask-manufacturing equipment because they need to fight their own Covid-19 battles.

Academic hails health charter as key to stemming virus outbreak Bangkok Post 5th Apr 2020
Systematic cooperation is needed to underpin the "public health charter" which spells out the bottom-up community efforts necessary for stemming the spread of Covid-19, according to a health expert. Niran Pitakwatchara, head of the College of Medicine and Public Health, Ubon Ratchathani University, said the pandemic cannot be contained by applying laws alone. Social measures involving the cooperation of all stakeholders are crucial in battling the disease. Instrumental will be the public health charter adopted in tandem with the 2007 National Health Act that dictates decision-making strategies to promote public health, he said.

Covid-19 now covered by Bt30 health scheme The Nation Thailand 3rd Apr 2020
The Royal Gazette announced on its website on Friday (April 3) that the National Health Security Office (NHSO) will be adding the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) to the list of diseases that will be covered by the fund from March 31 onwards. The announcement, signed by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, states that Covid-19 is now included in the scope of public health services available to those covered under the National Health Security Act BE 2545 (2002).

ICT

10GB data handout launches Friday Bangkok Post 10th Apr 2020
About 30 million mobile subscribers will be able to apply for 10 free gigabytes of data from 8am on Friday as part of public assistance measures during the coronavirus crisis. The application period runs until April 30. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) drew out 3 billion baht from the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research Fund (BTRF) to support the scheme.

Thailand Delta Electronics PCL to establish subsidiary in Viet Nam this year vietnamnews.vn 17th Apr 2020
Thailand’s Delta Electronics PCL has recently announced that it will establish a new subsidiary in Viet Nam within the second or third quarter of this year. The 100 per cent-owned subsidiary of Delta Thailand will be incorporated in Viet Nam with registered capital of US$500,000, the company said. The nature of the new company’s business will be trade and solutions using Delta’s electronics products that will benefit stakeholders and support local customers.

Infrastructure

Thailand plans $33 billion public-private investment projects Reuters 15th Apr 2020
Thailand plans public-private partnership (PPP) projects worth 1.09 trillion baht ($33.39 billion) during 2020-2027, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, as the government tries to revive the struggling economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 92-project plan includes 18 high-priority infrastructure projects worth 472 billion baht, Prapas Kong-Ied, head of the State Enterprise Policy Office, said in a statement.

Deferral sought on signing rail contract Bangkok Post 14th Apr 2020
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will this week ask its board to defer the signing of "Contract 2.3" for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway to October this year. SRT deputy governor Worawut Mala said the signing of the 50.6-billion-baht contract is currently unable to proceed due to a lack of agreement on the cost of tracks, the signalling system and procurement of train carriages. Moreover, the 28th Thai-Chinese Joint Committee (JC) meeting in which the contract was due to be signed cannot take place because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

New SRT chief vows to cut debt Bangkok Post 14th Apr 2020
The newly appointed governor of the State Railway of Thailand, Nirut Maneephan, has vowed to tackle the agency's mammoth debt of over 100 billion baht. Speaking after meeting Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Monday, Mr Nirut said he was not intimidated by the ailing company's financial status, before saying that he has his sights set on reversing the losses.

NESDC ordered to rejig strategies Bangkok Post 13th Apr 2020
The state planning unit, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC), has been ordered to revise the 20-year national strategy (2018-37) and the 12th national economic and social development plan (2017-21) to keep abreast of changing social and economic trends caused by the global economic slowdown and the pandemic. The 15 projects are split into several groups: social and economic restructuring in an effort to increase competitiveness; upgrading Thais' skills; projects that can create a balance between social and economic growth; infrastructure projects that can drive long-term economic growth; and projects that can generate income to create sustainable growth.

Labour Ministry readying more help Bangkok Post 11th Apr 2020
The Labour Ministry will next week ask the cabinet to approve a fresh proposal on financial aid for another group of 800,000 workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul. He said these workers are not covered by the relief measures so far approved by the cabinet which are applicable only to those who lost their jobs or were suspended due to the government's order to shut down businesses to contain the outbreak. He said the ministry is working on a long-term plan to help those affected in response to an estimate that by June the number of jobless who are subscribers of the Social Security Fund will increase to 7.13 million. Of them, 4.2 million are in the department store and retail sector, one million in construction, 978,000 in the hotel industry, 250,000 in restaurant businesses, 239,600 in spa and massage shops and 200,000 in textiles.

Property outlook negative Bangkok Post 9th Apr 2020
Tris Rating holds a negative view on the residential property industry in Thailand. Although the Covid-19 pandemic may not directly affect the industry, it is causing severe damage to the overall economy. As the domestic economy is already fragile and heavily reliant on tourism and exports, the virus pandemic could cause a contraction. The more prolonged the outbreak, the greater the impact on the property industry. Assuming the Covid-19 outbreak is contained in the first half of this year, residential property sales could still decline by as much as 20-30% from last year.

Mixed-use projects drive Lat Phrao Bangkok Post 3rd Apr 2020
Completion of the skytrain's Sukhumvit Line extension from Kasetsart University to Khu Kot this year should mean increased traffic near Lat Phrao intersection, with developers planning mixed-use projects worth a combined 50 billion baht over the next few years. Phattarachai Taweewong, associate director of research at property consultant Colliers International Thailand, said areas from Lat Phrao intersection to Chatuchak have Bang Sue Grand Station driving new traffic. The new railway hub is expected to carry more than 100,000 passengers a day.

Manufacturing

Final stages before CP start punching out face masks in Thailand The Thaiger 10th Apr 2020
The Charoen Pokphand Group also known as CP has announced that the plane that they chartered from China has arrived in Thailand carrying the new mask manufacturing machine and materials to complete the face mask assembling. CP has invested around 100 million baht to build the factory to produce surgical face masks for medical personnel and the general public with the goal to beat the face masks shortages in Thailand and to distribute them for free. The factory will be able to produce 100,000 masks per day or 3 million pieces per month.

Travel & Tourism

Eight airlines to meet Minister Uttama on loans The Nation Thailand 20th Apr 2020
Eight domestic airlines prepared for discussions with the Finance Ministry on April 20 on seeking soft loans to keep their businesses afloat after complying with the government’s request not to lay off 30,000-50,000 employees in the airline industry amid the Covid-19 crisis. Official measures regarding future business operations will be announced Wednesday.

CAAT extends flight ban Bangkok Post 15th Apr 2020
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has extended its inbound flight ban to April 30 except repatriation flights and some others for Covid-19 control. The ban spares state and military aircraft, aircraft making emergency landing and aircraft making technical landing without disembarkation. Humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights as well as repatriation and cargo flights are also exempted from the ban.

Foreigners' visas automatically extended Bangkok Post 9th Apr 2020
The government approved a plan on Wednesday to allow all foreigners who entered legally to receive automatic visa extensions, to prevent long queues at immigration centres and slow the spread of the coronavirus. The automatic visa extension has been granted until April 30, according to an interior ministry document.

Incoming flight ban extended to April 18 Bangkok Post 6th Apr 2020
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has extended a ban on all commercial flights to Thailand until April 18 to support the country's campaign to contain the coronavirus. Until that date, only state and military aircraft, emergency landings, technical landings and flights for humanitarian and medical purposes will be allowed, it said.

Vietnam

Extra efforts made to sign RCEP in Vietnam in late 2020 VietnamPlus 18th Apr 2020
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) dialogue partners are advancing the review of legal texts, with an expectation of the process finishing in July so the pact can be signed at the ASEAN Summit in Vietnam later this year as scheduled. Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General of the Trade Negotiations Department under Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, said the working panel handling the legal text-scrubbing for the pact has already finished six chapters and is working on the remaining 14 chapters. The first video conference was applied to the RCEP Trade Negotiation Committee meeting on April 7. The next video conference of the committee is scheduled for April 20-24.