Australian Embassy Updates

Daily Updates on COVID-19

Headlines summary as of 19 April 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,39043,7427728,787 (at 65.81%)26,632535,925
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)
1,384 [1,058 (get tested in hospital) + 326 (active case finding)] 6 (in SQ) 14,5813,615 (+293)104 (+3)20,59482,658
  • In a bid to curb the third surge of COVID-19 in the Kingdom, the CCSA has imposed a fresh set of restrictions dividing the country into two zones: highly controlled area (red zone)-18 provinces and controlled area (orange zone)-59 provinces. See the details of the restrictions at https://www.tatnews.org/2021/04/thailand-strengthens-measures-to-contain-new-wave-of-covid-19-infections/
  • The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration order on temporary closure of premises can be found at Public Relations Department of the BMA here
  • The Minister of Tourism and Sports affirmed the earlier timeline to reopen Phuket to tourism, despite the third wave of pandemic. The minister said the ministry’s next step will be to discuss city-to-city travel bubble with Singapore and Hong Kong and said that “if we succeed in negotiating with Singapore, it will automatically add in New Zealand and Australia into the travel bubble.”—Than Settakij

Politics

  • Former Pheu Thai Chief Strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan who is now leading freshly established Thai Sarng Thai Party gave an exclusive interview with a media. Sudarat said her new party will function as a bridge between the older and newer generations. She said the Thai political conflict is no longer that between red and yellow, but that of generational clashes.—Krungthep turakij
  • A Facebook Page ปราชญ์สามสี posted a claimed-to-be leaked Line conversation between a major leader of the student-led protestors and Agent H (Henry Rector). The former is reportedly informed and took orders from the American Senior Diplomatic Advisor regarding the capture of protest leaders.—Than Settakij
  • An American professor who has been teaching and working as academia in Thailand for almost four decades was no longer Khon Kaen University professor as the educational institution said David Streckfuss has violated the contract. David who is concurrently help run freshly established Isaan Record news outlet said his academic integrity is being mistreated by political motives. The academia who has been participating in pro-democratic activities has been revoked his visa.–Matichon
  • A royalist group called themselves ‘King Naresuan’s warrior’ was on an inquisitor mission to inspect a local man in the Eastern province of Rayong who was reportedly posted inflammatory message to the King. After the investigation, the group said the user is experiencing depression. The Group thanked village headman and local authority for their collaboration in liaising with the mission.– https://www.facebook.com/338406630845257/posts/401192317900021/

Analysis

  • Armed force reporter Wassana Nanuam analysed the political future of many actors. As for the PM, she said as a military, he will stay on as long as the mission is yet to be achieved. She cited the PM always saying “Don’t you know who I have to be in power for?”. And for the newly established party by the PM, she believed that former Police Chief Chakthip will take the lead in the party, despite much anticipation that he will join the local Bangkok governor election. Wassana said the PM will not resign until he is rest assured that there is a stable successor to take on his mission and that will be led by former Police Chief Chakthip, former Army Chief Abhirat and Ministry of Defence permanent-secretary Nut Intaracharoen, all of whom are from the same batch in cadet school.—Ringside การเมือง
  • A media veteran said Thailand prestigious diplomacy is being tested as the Thai international status is being off radar. He cited former American Ambassador to Thailand who is warning that Biden administration is overlooking Thailand significance in its Indo-Pacific outlook. The politically designated former ambassador claimed he read internal paper which mentioned Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam but not Thailand. The media veteran also raised the unclear information whether Thai leader will personally join the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. Even in the Biden’s initiated climate change summit, Thailand is not invited as one of the 40 countries to join, despite proclaiming to be the American oldest ally in Southeast Asia.–PPTV
  • After former Pheu Thai chief strategist Sudarat left the main opposition party, the party is witnessing a new direction steering towards having Pongsak Ruktapongpisal to lead Bangkok constituencies. The new Pheu Thai management, according to Krungthep turakij, is steering towards the revival of former Red Shirts factions in the party, particularly the faction which is friendly to the student-led protestors.—Krungthep Turakij

Australia

  • The Embassy’s Songkran video was featured with the US Embassy for getting the Songkran spirit by posting entertaining video with social distancing.—The Nation Thailand
  • Australian Prime Minister’s Songkran message which was posted on Facebook was reported on Matichon
  • Ambassador video on negative covid test result was picked up by a media as Ambassador name appeared in the COVID positive minister timeline.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Ambassador and Consul-General in Phuket was quoted by Phuket Hotels Association president Anthony Lark saying they discussed in Phuket about trying to find a place for connections to Phuket in the travel bubble being discussed between the Australian and Singapore governments.—The Sydney Morning Herald And was picked up by local Thai media—Isra News Agency, Siang Tai (The voice of the South)

Economic:

CPTPP

  • The 8 CPTPP sub-committees appointed by the cabinet had reported the progress of their studies to the International Economic Affairs Committee chaired by DPM & Foreign Affairs Minister Don.  Commerce Ministry, which serves as the Secretariat of the Economic Affairs Committee, has asked the CPTPP sub-committees to review their reports once again before submitting them to the cabinet.  Meanwhile, the private sector urges the government to accede to CPTPP quickly and pointed that the clauses of concerns, such as the CL and UPOV 1991 must addressed since they are being negotiated under Thailand-EU FTA as well.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij

Tourism

  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry (MoST) will convene a meeting this week to discuss about the need to reset the timeline for the Phuket sandbox model.   It might not be possible for Phuket to vaccinate 70 percent of its population by June to reopen by July because the vaccines are now diverted to combat the fresh outbreaks in other provinces.  MoST must also discuss with other countries that it is negotiating travel bubbles with about their confidence regarding the same timeline.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) estimates that unemployment in Q2 could reach between 2-2.5 million of the 4 million employed by the industry if the government cannot flatten the virus curve to double-digit within a month.  The Phuket sandbox plan, which is slated for July, can be postponed for 15 days or 1 month to ensure virus containment.  TCT called for the government to offer financial aids to operators, noting that the Bank of Thailand’s revised Soft Loan Act that included asset warehousing would be useful.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • DPM Supattanapong admitted that it is unlikely Thailand will achieve a 4-percent GDP growth in 2021 as the current COVID-19 outbreak has severely affected tourism.  Instead, the DPM is pinning hope on export to pick up and grow by 4 percent this year.  The government aims to launch packages to attract foreign investments, draw affluent retirees and stimulate domestic consumption by incentivising people to spend their savings.  The DPM remains keen to reopen Phuket in July, but noted that arrival figures in the initial stage will not meet target.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Finance (MoF) is confident it has sufficient budget worth some 380 billion Baht to combat the third wave of COVID-19.  Of the 1 trillion Baht loan, some 78 percent was disbursed, with the remaining 240 billion Baht available for the government to use in curbing the outbreak.  Additionally, there is 99 billion Baht available from the central budget that is reserved for emergency use, combined with 43 billion Baht budget which was appropriated specifically for COVID-19.  While the 1 trillion Baht loan must be used by 30 September 2021, the government could borrow more if needed.  MoF also noted that its Rao Chana and Social Security cash handout packages could also boost domestic spending and spur the economy until 31 May.  Sources:  Thansettakij  Prrachachat Turakij
  • Commerce Ministry expects a new 5-year strategic trade plan to be completed in September.  It will focus on aiding the government’s recovery in the post-pandemic period by promoting the BCG economic model, as well as domestic trade and exports of work-from-home, agricultural and healthcare products.  MoC plans to also introduce new economic indicators that give more insight on business activities across industries.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The government affirms that there will be no shortage of surgical face masks, given that the government is closely monitoring illicit trade activities and is also continuing to fix the price of domestically-produced masks at 2.50 Baht per piece.  Moreover, Thailand now has 63 factories that manufacture 4-5 million pieces of surgical face masks per day, according to statistics from January – March 2021.  Thailand has also imported 28.6 million surgical masks and 228 million non-surgical masks.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij  Thai Post
  • The pandemic has led to a 5-6 fold growth in the demand for e-document management from the government and corporate sectors.  Demand for the service, according to the service provider Ditto Thailand, increased by 500 percent from year 2019.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand had responded to the US’s decision on Friday to keep Thailand on a currency manipulation watchlist by asserting that it has stepped into the market only to curb volatility in the Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Australia and New Zealand have officially started their travel bubble scheme today, with travellers from both countries requiring no quarantine.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij Naew Na newspaper, 19 April 2021

Headlines summary as of 12 April 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases
98533,6107328,248 (at 84.05%)4,747
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in Bangkok (from 1 April)Death tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
980 [634 (get tested in hospital) + 346 (active case finding)] 5 (in SQ) 5,2651,431 (+137)97 (+0)17,877
  • On Friday, the PM has tasked a newly formed team with procuring alternative Covid-19 vaccine. The team will cooperate with private hospitals in procuring alternative Covid-19 vaccine in order to reach the target to vaccinate 40 million people.—Nation Thailand
  • In a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 in other provinces, 38 provincial authorities are imposing 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors from Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Nakhon Pathom.—Krungthep Turakij [Please note that each province have different measures], Reuters
  • The Deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), outlined the Ministry of Public Health estimation of daily numbers by five scenarios using different level of measures as followed—all media outlet Prachachat, Bangkok Post
ScenariosLowest numbersAverage numbersHighest numbers
1st Without any measure1,3089,14028,678
2nd Shut down of entertainment complexes in 41 risky provinces8172,9967,244
3rd Shut down of entertainment complexes in 41 risky provinces and with strict personal preventive measures4769341,589
4th Shut down of entertainment complexes in 41 risky provinces with strict personal preventive measures and reduce large gathering378593857
5th Shut down of entertainment complexes in 41 risky provinces with strict personal preventive measures, reduce large gathering and implement organisational measures (e.g. WFH)303391483
  • Bangkok Criminal Court has sentenced the managers of 2 nightclubs, Krystal Club Thonglor 25 and Emerald Club Thonglor 13 for two months for violating the entertainment complexes bill and Emergency Decree. The Court will make recommendation to a Metropolitan Police Committee to shut down the two clubs for five years.–ThaiPBS
  • Please view the full list of locations where Songkran 2021 festivities are cancelled at Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website.—TAT News
  • Thai media started reporting on the low efficacy of Chinese COVID vaccine as announced by the Chinese Department of Disease Control. The mainland authority is planning to inoculate a mixture of Chinese vaccine with other vaccines to maximise the effectiveness of the vaccines.—Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • The Bangkok Remand Prison dismissed the online rumours that one of the student-led protest leaders Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak is beaten to death in prison by guards. The prison office issued the health condition of the detained who is on hunger strike for almost a month.—Krungthep Turakij
  • It is now the timing for many political parties to hold its annual plenary meeting as required by the law. Many parties have postponed the meeting as the pandemic has surged again.
    • Opposition Move Forward Party has issued a press release to postpone the meeting on 24 April until further notice.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Democrat Party spokesperson said the party will wait and see the guideline from the Election Commission whether the meeting on 19 April can be postponed.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The secretary-general of the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) said that despite the pandemic the party annual meeting will proceed on 18 April.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The newly established “Power Party” (Pak-Pa-Lang) has unveiled the party logo which look pretty much like Pheu Thai Party’s logo. The party is scheduled to hold a meeting on 9 May and will announce the party leader who has a very well-established profile.—Krungthep Turakij
  • New parliament is due to officially open next month. The new river-side parliament has been constructing for 8 years and claimed to be the largest legislative building on earth.–Matichon

Economic

  • Due to the new surge of COVID cases in the Kingdom and the potential lockdowns, various economic analysts estimated that Thai Q2 GDP will plunge.
    • Bank of Thailand downgraded the growth of Thai economy in 2021 from 3.2 to 3 percent and in 2022 from 4.8 to 4.7 percent. This estimation, however, has not placed the third wave of the pandemic into account.–Prachachat
    • Asia Plus Group Holdings estimated that the recovery in quarter 2 will slow down in the same pattern as the United Kingdom is facing. However, it is estimated that should the situation persists, the pandemic will downsize the economy by 2.5 to 3 percent.–Prachachat
    • Thonburi Healthcare Group said that if the government is unable to curb the pandemic soon, Thai 2021 GDP might see the growth of one percent from the earlier expectation at 3 to 4 percent.
    • Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce expected that the new surge will have an impact on the Songkran economic activity which was estimated to be at 2-3 billion THB in Bangkok and 10-15 billion THB nationwide. Private sector would like to be consulted first should the government is going to impose a lockdown on the capital as they are the sector affected the most.—Than Settakij
  • However, State-owned Government Savings Bank (GSB) forecasts the country’s economic expansion may fare better than expected or at 3-3.5 percent as the kingdom is set to open its doors to foreign tourists.—Bangkok Post
  • Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said he two decrees aiming at relieving the debt burden of entrepreneurs and the other to provide assistance worth 350 billion baht to business affected by Covid-19 will be effective on Monday.—Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 6 April 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
25029,5716827,948 (at 94.51%)25,334
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
245 [90 (get tested in hospital) + 155 (active case finding)] 5 (in SQ) 1,5282,471 (+156: 119 from active case finding)95 (+0)16,343
  • Yesterday, the head of Department of Disease Control (DDC) said that the Public Health Ministry is going to propose to CCSA for approval a fresh set of restrictions to curb new wave of COVID infection by rearranging the zoning of provinces for two weeks as followed: Thai Rath, CCSA
ZonesProvincesRestaurantEntertainment complexShopping mallsEducational institutionsGym/ fitness
Maximum Control (Red)Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nontaburi, Samut Prakarn, Nakhon PratomUntil 9.00 pm, no alcoholUntil 9.00pm, no alcoholBusiness as usualBusiness as usualBusiness as usual
Control (Orange)Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkram, Chumporn, Tak, Ratchaburi, Chonburim Suphanburi, Narathiwat, KanchanaburiUntil 11.00 pmUntil 11.00 pmBusiness as usualBusiness as usualBusiness as usual
High Surveillance (Yellow)(10) Ayuthhaya, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Chaseongsao, Petchburi, Ranong, Rayong, Songkla, Yala, Khon KaenUntil 00.00Until 00.00Business as usualBusiness as usualBusiness as usual
Surveillance (Green)53Business as usualBusiness as usualBusiness as usualBusiness as usualBusiness as usual
  • Last night, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) issued an order to close 196 entertainment complexes in three districts of Wattana, Bang Kae and Klong Toei for 14 days in a bid to curb the infection in the emerging cluster within the nightclubs.—Thai Rath, Krungthep Turakij, Reuters

Politics

  • The secretary-general of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party said that the party is going to hold a party plenary meeting on 20 April and the party is going to announce party stance on Constitutional Amendment.—Krungthep Turakij
  • A vocal Democrat MP Sathit Wongnongtoey said in a media interview that the Opposition reached out to coalition parties to discuss on constitutional amendment. He said he is wondering why the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party has to haste putting the agenda on the special Parliamentary session on 7 April.—Krungthep turakij
  • The issue of intra-PPRP struggle remains imminent as Justice Minister Somsak denied the rumour that the so-called ‘4 Ministers’ (Justice, Industry, PM Office and Labour) are teaming up to counter-balance the ‘4 Deputies’ (Agriculture, Labour, Finance and Transport) to fight for securing the clique power in the PPRP secretary-general position during the upcoming party annual meeting.—Thai Rath

Economic:

Tourism

  • The Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) said tourist organizations and embassies of many countries are keen to forge travel bubbles with Thailand, but are concerned about the country’s slow pace of vaccination.  With regards to the tourism sandbox scheme, there remains several obstacles for tourists to travel to Thailand.  And if inbound market does not recover, outbound travel will not start, which could delay Thailand’s reopening.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand estimates travellers will take 3.2 million domestic trips during the Songkran holiday period (April 10-15), which will generate 12 billion Baht in revenue.  University of Thai Chamber of Commerce countered noted that consumers will refrain from spending during Songkran.  It anticipates that consumer spending will be the lowest in 9 years, declining by 17 percent from 2019 to 113 billion Baht.  The government has injected some 300-350 billion Baht into the economy, which cannot compensate for the 200 billion Baht generated by foreign tourism every month. Source:  Bangkok Post

TAFTA and Beef Special Safeguard

  • The FTA Fund committee under the auspices of Agriculture and Cooperative Ministry had allocated 161.79 million Baht to a project designed to enhance the competitiveness of Thai beef.  The move was made to prepare local industries for the impacts of the lifting of SSG for Australian beef under TAFTA, effective since 1 January this year.  The Department of Livestock is working with the company Premium Beef to improve the production capabilities of Thai beef, from upstream to downstream processes.  The Agriculture Ministry also cited a similar capacity-building activity in Tak province as a successful case study.  Source:  Daily News newspaper, 5 April 2021  Thai Public Relations Department News
  • This year, Thai beef farmers will be hit hard by the liberalization of Australian beef under TAFTA.  As such, CP Meiji, Thailand’s largest buyer of raw milk, had signed an MoU with Chulalongkorn’s Veterinarian Faculty to improve the quality of local milk production.  The focus will be on training farmers and removing antibiotic throughout the production value chain.  The pilot project adopts the Dairy Veterinary Community Approach that combines academic work on research and innovations with the know-how of farmers.  Source:  Thai Rath

Others

  • The Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) maintains its forecast of 3-4 percent export growth this year despite the traffic slowdown at Suez Canal and political unrest in Myanmar.  In fact, Myanmar’s political clash has already caused the value of export to fall by 29.7 percent, which could be offset by improving global economy and the prospect of US having higher demands for imports.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Board of Investment (BOI) approved tax incentives for biotechnology projects worth 2.4 billion Baht in the first quarter this year, aiming to use advanced technology to drive the economy in line with the BCG economic model. Companies that have been granted access to the BOI tax scheme this year operate businesses in medical and bioplastic fields.  Sources:  Khao Sod Bangkok Post
  • Inflation in March 2021 contracted by -0.08 percent YoY; the smallest decline in 13 months due to the surge in global oil price and recovering economy.  March’s Core inflation rose by 0.09 percent YoY, while inflation in Q1 of 2021 averages at -0.53 percent.  Commerce Ministry expects inflation to start expanding from Q2 onward due to the improved Covid-19 situation, higher global oil price and the government’s stimulus packages taking effect.  On the contrary, University of Thai Chamber of Commerce contended that March’s negative inflation that the Thai economy is experneincing a continuous slowdown with no clear signs of picking up.  Food price remains low, thereby indicating that domestic consumption is subdued.  Sources:  Krungthep Turakij Bangkok Post
  • The Administrative Court has agreed to consider a petition lodged by a group of consumer watchdogs over the Trade Competition Commission’s (TCC) decision to approve the merger of CP Retail Development Co and Tesco Stores (Thailand) Ltd.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 5 April 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
19429,3216827,840 (at 94.95%)25,084
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
182 [ 87 (get tested in hospital) + 95 (active case finding)] 12 (in SQ) 1,3862,315 (+46)95 (+0)16,188
  • In what that could be considered as the third wave of COVID surge in Thailand, there have been reports of domestic infections densely from the following venues:
    • Krystal Club Lounge in Thonglor Soi 25
    • Ekamai Beer House
    • Bar Bar Bar Pub Thonglor and Dollar Bangkok
    • The Cassette Music Bar in Ekamai
    • The Emquatier Sukhumvit 39
    • Baan Phahon Cafe and Bar
    • The Emporium/Emquartier shopping complex
  • Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement confirming that Japanese Ambassador to Thailand is tested COVID positive and is being hospitalised.—Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
  • It is reported that the Japanese envoy went to the Lounge in Thonglor on 25 March and that he went with (an) economic Minister(s).—Inside Thailand
    • Deputy PM and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow showed his negative COVID test result as he said that he was never at the Club Lounge.—The Reporters  
    • A Michelin street food store ‘Jay Fai’ has closed her store temporarily after it is reported that the Japanese envoy went to her store with various other VIPs.
    • Partner to Singha conglomerate President, M.L. Piyapas Bhirombhakdi posted on her Instagram account apologise the store for causing troubles.–Matichon
  • The Secretary-general of the National Security Council denied the rumour that the government is about to impose curfew in a bid to curb the new wave of infection. He said the CCSA remains constant in its approach of bubble and seal COVID hotspot with the aim of not disrupting ordinary people’s life.—National News Bureau of Thailand
  • As of today, the new cluster linked to the night clubs has been spread to more than 70 persons.
  • The CCSA spokesperson said the centre is going to propose three additional tough measures equipping the Department of Disease Control with authority:
    • Should there is any COVID infection case from any entertainment complex, the DDC is authorised to close the venue for two weeks.
    • Should the infection is getting widespread, the governor will have authority to lock down businesses in any designated area, including the entire province.
    • Should there is any infection from any restaurant the club-goers went to, the CCSA is authorised to close the business.—Thai Rath
  • Minister of Tourism and Sports said that within this week he will discuss with Singaporean Embassy to consider the possibility of a ‘travel bubble’ scheme with Singapore. He also mentioned that as Singapore is launching travel bubble scheme with Australia and New Zealand, he is hoping that Thailand could be part of the initiative.—Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • Yesterday, a group of protestors led by former Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan gathered at Rachadamneon Avenue aiming to oust PM Prayut. Former red-shirt leader said that this protest is a united front of all political ideologies against the PM. It is reported that guards in the protest prevented anyone showing signs that might be inflammatory to the monarchy. Jatuporn will gather every day until the PM is ousted.—Thai Rath
    • The Metropolitan Police Commander pressed charges on violating the Emergency Decree.—Krungthep Turakij
  • A vocal MP from the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) said that the party is going to propose a motion to amend the constitution by section on 7 April.—Thai Post
  • A source in PPRP said that Deputy PM Prawit has assigned Deputy Agriculture Minister Thaammanat to be the campaign leader to support the former Police Chief Chakthip to run for the Bangkok Governor election.—Khao Sod

Economic:

Tourism

  • The Thai Tourism Ministry will within this week discuss with Singapore about forging the Travel Bubble Scheme for exchanges of fully-inoculated travellers.  This is a continuation of the partial opening up of Phuket since 1 April.  Tourism Minister Phipat noted that Singapore is in talks to set up a Travel Bubble with Australia and New Zealand, for which Thailand might ask to join the scheme to create a 1+3 route.  Thailand is also discussing the Travel Bubble concept with Hong Kong, which is in turn negotiating a Travel Bubble with Singapore.  Thailand is also considering forging Travel Bubble with the Middle East and China.  Tourism Ministry has set 1 October as the day to kick off the Travel Bubble scheme.  Sources:  Krungthep TurakijMatichon
  • The Thai government’s target to generate 348 billion Baht in tourism revenue from the foreign market in 2021 is a stretch, as is its goal of attaining a 4 percent GDP growth.  Phuket’s tourism income of 442 billion Baht in 2019 plummeted to 108 billion in 2020 because of the pandemic. The sandbox scheme is not without its obstacles.  For starters, Phuket eyes having 70 percent of its residents inoculated by June such that the island could waive quarantine requirement for fully-inoculated foreign visitors by July.  To date, Phuket has only booked 100,000 vaccine doses and the prospect of achieving the above timeframe seems dim. 
  • NESDC and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) do not expect the Thai tourism industry to see a revival until the Q4 2021, when 5 more destinations — Krabi, Phangnga, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai – are added to the sandbox. A TAT e-survey of 18 markets revealed that they prefer destinations that have lifted the quarantine days.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • On 1 April, representatives from Australia and Thailand participated in the Authorized Economic Operator – Mutual Recognition Arrangement (AEO-MRA) Virtual Singing Ceremony between Thai Customs Department and Australian Border Force at the Thai Customs Department.  Thai Customs, represented by Director-General Patchara, signed the MoU virtually with Michael Outram, ABF’s Commissioner.  Thai Customs had previously signed the AEO with Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore.  Source:  Pineapple News AgencyCustoms Dept’s Press Release
  • Academic Somchai Phakapawiwat voiced his concern on Thailand’s rising household debt, which is rooted the economy’s structural problems.  This is reflected in Thailand’s falling competitiveness in the last 20 years, with an average GDP growth of only 3 percent.  This lack of competitiveness, which will continue to depress people’s income as well as their debt serviceability.  He urges the government to upskill the population and boost their entrepreneurial skills to increase their channels of generating.  Source:  Matichon
  • Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai) said Thailand’s unemployment has passed the lowest point in October 2020.  Employment has started to improve since then (currently 1.5 percent) due to global economic recovery and the government’s stimulus package that bolstered domestic spending.  However, tourism sector’s slow rebound could continue to weigh down on employment.  Source:  Naew Na
  • Thailand is on course to become the world’s largest Durian producer over the next 5 years, with demands from China fuelling production.  However, Thailand is also at risk of losing to neighbouring countries, according to University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).  In the past decade, Thailand’s Durian production rose by 30 percent.  Production could rise further by 83 percent from 2021 – 2025, bringing the total annual Durian production to 2.02 million tonnes – the largest Durian production in the world.  Yet Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are stepping up their production by 42, 32, 40 and 20 percent, respectively.  As such, Thailand is projected ti lose its Durian export market share from 80 percent last year to 57 percent in 2025.  Source:  Bangkok PostKrungthep Turakij
  • Commerce Ministry plans to ask state-owned banks to consider granting soft loans with low-interest to help Thai SMEs in Myanmar that are forced to close for almost a month as the political instability escalates.  MoC’s Perm Sec Boonyarit was instructed to oversee discussions between the Thai-Myanmar Business Council and Thailand’s SME-D bank as well as Export-Import Bank of Thailand to ensure Thai SMEs have access to funding sources.  Border trade between Thailand and Myanmar remains unaffected despite the latter’s political turmoil.  Sources:  Bangkok PostKrungthep Turakij
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has scrapped its plan to impose a minimum income requirement of 1 million baht per year for cryptocurrency traders, following an overwhelmingly negative response to the proposal at several public hearings held last month online.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand says it will begin testing use of its retail digital currency for the general public in the second quarter of next year before fully implementing it over the next 3-5 five years.  The retail central bank digital currency (retail CBDC) is aimed at providing access to convenient and secure financial services.  Sources:  Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 30 March 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
4828,8216727,379 (at 95.00%)24,584
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
27 [22 (get tested in hospital) + 5 (active case finding)] 21 (in SQ) 1,3482,165 (+17: 5 from active case finding)94 (+0)16,057

Politics

  • An unofficial result of the local municipal results, the Progressive Movement could secure 12 seats out of 102 seats filed.—Inside Thailand
  • One of the core figures of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (Red Shirt) Nattawut Saikua held a press conference after he got free from jail term. He said he stand by the student-led protests and their causes. He affirmed that he will not come out to lead the protestors, but if the situation in the future is of necessity, that’s the issue of the future.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Earlier the other core figure of the Red Shirt Jatuporn Prompan called for a gathering on 4 April with the aims to oust the PM and amend the Constitution, without touching upon the issue of the monarchy.—Thai Post
  • The Criminal Court has made an order to the staffs at Bangkok Remand Prison to “work carefully and treat the detained according to the rights as guaranteed by the law”. The court made just order after seeing that the staff at the prison “did not make treat the detainees with enough care.”.—BBC Thai
  • Protest main figures Parit ‘Penguin’ is on his 14th day of hunger strike. Panusaya ‘Rung’ just declared that she will be on strike too as there is no justice given to her and her friends.–Prachatai
  • Deputy PM and the government legal pundit Wissanu said he is confident that the third reading of the Referendum bill will be passed.—Thai Rath

Myanmar

  • The PM said that the government is preparing for a potential flood of refugees from neighbouring Myanmar. It is reported that the PM said “We don’t want to have an exodus into our territory, but we will observe human rights, too,” Prayuth told reporters when asked about a weekend of violence in Myanmar during anti-coup demonstrations. “How many refugees are expected? We have prepared an area, but how many – we are not talking about that.”–Reuters

Economic:

Ease of Doing Business

  • DPM Supattanapong set his sights for Thailand to reach the top 10 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index by 2023, or in 2 years.  The announcement came after he chaired a meeting between various government agencies to follow up on the progress of Ease of Doing Business improvement.  He mandated for complete integration of information between public and private sectors through Customs’ National Single Window system by September 2021.  The meeting also laid out plans on 11 reforms needed to improve the country’s ease of doing business.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 29 March 2021  Naew Na
  • Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), under the stewardship of its newly-appointed chairman Sanan Angubolkul, launched the ‘Connect the Dots’ policy to revitalise the economy in 99 days.  TCC will connect individuals and state and private sectors to tackle short-term problems and jumpstart recovery.  Among its proposals included accelerating digital transformation to help SMEs access financial sources, as well as improving the Ease of Doing Business, specifically immigration procedures for skilled foreign labour, fee reduction for business permits and law reforms for tourism sector.  It also proposed the ‘Buy 1 Give 1’ vaccination plan, wherein a company will give a free dose of COVID-19 vaccine to the public for every dose it buys for its employee.  The private sector pledges to help the government in its effort to roll out the vaccine to the public.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij Naew Na Bangkok Post

CPTPP

  • Acting Digital Economy and Society Minister Ittiphol chaired a meeting of the CPTPP sub-committee on E-Commerce last week.  It is among the 8 sub-committees established by the cabinet, which will submit its studies on Thailand’s accession to CPTPP to the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s International Economic Policy committee and then on to the cabinet within 90 days, or by mid-April.  Source:  Thai Government website

RCEP

  • With the enforcement of RCEP, a total of 40,000 items from Thailand will benefit from preferential tariff.  Of this figure, more than 29,000 Thai export items will enjoy zero tariff from 1 January next year, with the remainder seeing tariff reduced to zero in 10-20 years.  Commerce Ministry also officially opened its RCEP Centre to educate local entrepreneurs on RCEP in 6 areas, from RCEP text and Rules of Origin to Thailand’s trade measures.  It is accessible via the website www.moc.go.th  Source:  Naew Na Bangkok Post

Tourism

  • Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) called for Bangkok to be included in the tourism sandbox scheme in October that would allow vaccinated visitors to enter without quarantine.  This could help Thailand achieve 6.5 million foreign tourists this year.  With Phuket slated to reopen in July and five destinations to follow in October, tourist arrival is expected to reach 3 million.  Thailand could welcome an additional 3 million visitors if Bangkok could reopen in October, but on the condition that the government pursues travel bubble with low-risk countries and roll out vaccine certificates by April.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) maintained policy rate at 0.5 percent for a seventh straight meeting to support economic recovery.  BOT also slashed its 2021 economic growth forecast to 3 percent from 3.2 percent due to the resurgence of COVID-19 in Dec 2020.  The drop in tourism is expected to take its toll on Q1 2021 GDP, with projection for foreign arrivals in 2021 trimmed to 3 million from 5.5 million.  For 2022, BOT forecasts that GDP will grow by 4.7 percent and will recover to pre-pandemic level in 2.5 years.  Source:  Bank of Thailand press release Bangkok Post
  • World Bank revised downward its forecast for Thai GDP this year to a 3.4 percent growth from 4 percent.  Uncertainty prevails due to COVID-19 and recovery is expected to be gradual.  It is essential for the government to continue injecting fiscal measures to aid the public and business operators, particularly the labour market in the tourism sector.  World Bank expects visitor number this year to tally 4-5 million.  Source: Bangkok Post   Pattaya Mail
  • Finance Minister Akhom insists that the Thai economy can grow by 4 percent, with the stimulus packages kicking in, and export and tourism starting to recover following the vaccine rollout.  However, MoF’s Fiscal Policy Office cautions against this ambitious projection.  To achieve such growth, FPO notes that exports must expand by 6.2 percent, private investment by 3.4 percent and foreign arrivals must exceed 5 million.  Yet February’s export figure saw a -2.59 percent contraction, while the violence in Myanmar was starting to hit Thai exports, with shipments to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in February down 4.2 percent YoY.  Sources:  Naew Na Bangkok Post    Manager Online 
  • Thai exports in February contracted by -2.59 percent YoY to USD20.2 billion after expanding by +0.35 percent in January, largely attributable to a -4 percent drop in industrial product and -93 percent decline in gold shipments.  Excluding gold, oil and weaponry, export in February expanded by +2.87 percent YoY.  Meanwhile, February’s import surged by 22 percent to USD 20.2 billion.  Commerce Ministry forecast a 4 percent export growth for 2021 and said the sector will start recovering in Q2.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Industry Ministry has set up a new committee on Bio, Circular and Green (BCG) economy to set Thailand on a path toward economic sustainability. Bio-economy is projected to be a new source of revenue for farmers because it promotes the use of renewable resources as raw materials to produce food as well as energy and other value-added products.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 29 March 2021

 News

  • Updates related to COVID-19 (as of 28 March):
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
7728,7346627,239 (at 94.80%)24,497
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
58 [32 (get tested in hospital) + 26 (active case finding)] 19 (in SQ) 1,4012,133 (+32: 12 from active case finding)94 (+1)16,040
  • On Friday, the CCSA has approved the Phuket province plan to open its resorts to international tourists without quarantine from 1 July onwards. As, the Southern beach resort has not witnessed any local transmission for more than 90 days. The proposed scheme is to allow vaccinated tourists with negative covid test results to enter the island, providing that population on the province have sufficient rate of inoculation. The President of Thai Chamber of Commerce believe that during the reopening, there will be 100,000 tourists travelling to the province.–Prachachat, Reuters
  • The Ministry of Public Health has put private hospital advertisement of covid vaccine on hold as it is against the law to have medical facilities to open for vaccine reservation.—Thai Rath

Politics

  • Yesterday, the police cracked down a minor protest site next to the Government House for two times. At dawn, the police cleared the protest site. After that protestors called for support to take the site back before being cracked down again by the Riot Control Police.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Wassana Nanuam, Army reporter, posted on her FB that the reason why the crackdown occurred yesterday was that the new cabinet is scheduled to take a group photo in the Government House lawn this Tuesday. Security forces concern that the protestors which has been camping there for quite some times will yell at the cabinet. And it is also reported that the PM has ordered the police to clear the protest site as the yelling disturb his work concentration.—Wassana Nanuam
    • A group of protestor is going to gather in front of the Government House on Tuesday when the cabinet is going to take a group photo.—Krungthep turakij
  • Nida poll released it latest political popularity poll where PM Prayut remains on the second most popular candidate for the country leader, followed by former Pheu Thai Chief Strategist Sudarat. Meanwhile, main Opposition Pheu Thai party remains on the second most favourable party Thai people support, followed by main ruling Palang Pracharat Party, Move Forward and Democrat. The popularity of the PM dropped by two percent from the latest poll late last year. On both the candidates and political parties, ‘do not support any of the choice’ secured the top of the chart.—Nida Poll
  • The Royal Gazette published a Royal Decree to hold special Parliamentary session on 7 April.—Royal Gazette

Myanmar

  • On Sunday, around 3,000 ethnic Karen villagers fled to Mae Hong Son province in Thailand following air attacks by the Myanmar army on an area held by KNU. It is reported that the villagers fled as there were rumours that the Myanmar army would strike again on 28 March.–Matichon And it is reported that there have been at least 2,000 people sought asylum in UNHCR on the Thai side.–PPTV, Bangkok Post
  • On the Myanmar Army Establishment Day, there were delegates from eight countries attended the military parade, including Thai Army representative. On the same day, there was a report that the Army killed 114 protestors.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Former Deputy PM and FM Surakiart Sathirathai came out to comment that the situation in Myanmar is too violent to claim ASEAN’s non-interference principle. The former Thai top diplomat said he concerns that Bangkok inaction in such a mass violation of human rights will tarnish Thailand image in the international community. He proposed Bangkok to conduct ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ having Myanmar Army to hold talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.–Matichon

Economic

  • Here’s the updated timeline of welcoming international tourist back to the Kingdom—Krungthep Turakij, Than Settakij
    • Phase 1 from 1 April-30 June:
      • Minister of Tourism and Sports had outlined the Area Quarantine scheme which will ease up the quarantine timing. For tourists with vaccination, the quarantine will be down to 7 days; 10 days for unvaccinated tourists and 14 days for tourists from high-risk countries.
      • The scheme will be tested in 5 provinces spearheading by Phuket and followed by Krabi, Phang-Nga, Chiangmai, Koh Samui and Pattaya.
    • Phase 2 from 1 July-30 September:
      • Sandbox model with a potential ‘travel bubble’ between city-to-city or island-to-island.
      • The scheme will be held in Phuket, Koh Samui and Chiang Karn in Loei.
      • For Phuket, any vaccinated tourist can enter the island wihtput the need to quarantine from 1 July onwards.
      • This phase will attract tourists from China, UK, Singapore, UAE, Israel and Russia. And from 1 October, the scheme will includes tourists from India, Australia, China, Russia and UK.
    • Phase 3 from 1 October onwards:
      • No Quarantine but with vaccine certificate and tracking systems.
      • On conditions that more than 70 percent of medical staffs got vaccinated.
  • Deputy Government spokesperson said that the government will sign three contracts relating to the Thai-Sino high-speed train project between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima today. The contracts will be signed by the State Railway of Thailand’s governor and the contracting parties.—Bangkok Post
  • Yesterday, the government spokesperson conveyed the usual PM weekend message that The government stands ready to help businesses affected by a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal in Egypt as the supply chain in many countries is beginning to feel the pinch from the blockage.—Bangkok Post

Become an AustCham member

Representing the Chamber on Your Website

Proud Member of

preview logo

Adding AustCham Logo to Your Website​

Proudly present yourselves as a part of Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce by adding AustCham logo to your website.

MEMBER LOG IN