Australian Embassy Updates

Daily Updates on COVID-19

Headlines summary as of 26 October 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
7,706 (128 from prisons); (excluding ATK 2,304)1,866,863 (last seven days: 63,929)2,414/ 5441,749,848 (+9,532)1,838,00040,346,281 (+ 346,589) BKK: 8,299,860 (+9,065)2,177,335 (+ 43,756) BKK: 593,249 (+5,382)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb) 
7,568 [7,234 (get tested in hospital) + 334 (active case finding)]11 (in SQ)98,150 [56,254 in field hospital]395,518 (+901)18,865 (+66) (last seven days: 458)71,237,520 (+ 731,718) BKK:  14,708,522 (+ 45,465)28,713,904 (+ 341,373) BKK: 5,815,413 (+31,018) 
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has barred Thammasat University from importing the Hungary-donated Moderna vaccines, citing the University is not a state entity. In a clarification letter, the Ministry has asked the university to contact with the Department of Disease Control as the donation was not conducted by the state-to-state basis and that the Ministry has not received the notification through diplomatic channel.–ThaiPBS, Nation Thailand
    • Earlier, Thammasat University has issued a university order to allow itself to import ‘alternative’ vaccines (other than the state-sponsored vaccines) in the same way as the Royal Chulabhorn Institute has imported the Sinopharm vaccines.—Thai Post
  • The Department of Disease Control announced that the authority has detected a case of Delta Plus variant but has informed the public not to over-concern on the new variant. The man had been working in Ayutthaya province.—Khao Sod
  • A survey conducted by the Department of Health has indicated that some 94 percent of the Thai people are still concerned about the Covid-19 situation once the country reopens from November 1. The survey showed, however, that only 28% are confident with the current disease control measure.—Nation Thailand
  • The Defence Ministry spokesperson said that there has been a spike in numbers of Myanmar migrant workers into Thailand after the political situation has turned to be more violent.–Matichon

Politics

  • The main-ruling Palang Pracharat Party is in the other great wave of change as it is highly expected that the more than half of the party executives will resign rendering the fallen-from-grace secretary-general out of position.
    • The potential putsch is reportedly from the secretary-general idea of conducting a poll to determine who can be the MP candidate. But the party leader said that he did not order conducting the poll.
    • On 25 October, seven PPRP ministers reportedly convened with the PM at the Government House.–Matichon
    • The government whip and the PPRP MP said that the rearrangement of the party executive is the matter of the party leader and the secretary-general. He said that there will be a meeting within this week to sort out the disagreement.–Matichon
    • The party leader said that he is thinking about restructuring the party, but did not reply whether he will kick out the secretary-general.–Matichon
    • The party spokesperson announced that the party is set to restructure the party management, but the process is yet to be finalised.—Krungthep Turakij
    • It is expected that the Labour Minister and a party main figure is set to become the party next secretary-general when the current one is out.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The main opposition Pheu Thai Party is expected to hold its annual convention on 28 October 2021. It is expected that the party will indicate MPs recruitment committee and nominate vacant executive positions.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Sombut Boonngam-anong, the leader of the car mob protestor said that he is eyeing to call for the other car mob against the PM in November. He said that he will not join the student-led protest on 31 October as he will be in other provinces.–Matichon

ASEAN/ World

  • The Thai PM attended the 38th ASEAN Summit via teleconference. The government spokesperson said that the PM has said that Covid-19 has shown the fragility of the region against threats. PM Prayut said that there should be a lesson-learned from the pandemic to strengthen ASEAN community. The PM has expressed his support for the Bio-Circular-Green Economy Model as a key instrument to realise sustainable development.—Bangkok Post The full speech can be found at Thai PR Department

Economic

  • CPTPP
    • Academic Dr Somchai Pakapaswiwat prompts the Thai government to accede to CPTPP or risk losing out to other ASEAN countries that are CPTPP members such as Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.  If Thailand does not join the trade pact, he said it could be subjected to trade barriers as other member countries seek to establish high-level CPTPP trade standards.  Foreign investors will also choose to invest in Vietnam and Malaysia over Thailand.  If China, Taiwan and the UK successfully accede to CPTPP, Thailand will lose its trade advantages with Taiwan the most since it as does not have any trade agreement with Taiwan.  He noted that the pros of Thailand acceding to the CPTPP outweigh the cons, but at the same time the government must negotiate to ensure that Thailand has sufficient transition period and minimise the impacts on the people.  Source:  Matichon
  • RCEP
    • Ministry of Commerce revealed that it recently convened a meeting to finalise the RCEP Form-R in preparation for its enforcement on 1 January 2022.  RCEP Form-R allows importers to benefit from preferential tariffs under RCEP agreement and is expected to be enforced through an online system.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 25 October 2021
  • Tourism
    • PM Prayut has set aside funds for COVID-19 rehabilitation and schemes to spur the economy.  Of this budget, 100 million Baht will be spent hiring Thailand-born K-Pop singer Lisa Manobal of Blackpink and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli to perform in Thailand for New Year’s Eve celebration. The extravagant spending on such event came under fire after critics said the funds is better spent on supporting SMEs.  Source:  Bangkok Post
    • Tourism Authority of Thailand will replace the Certificate of Entry with Thailand Pass in order to boost tourism during the high season and to coincide with the 1 November reopening of Thailand to tourists without quarantine from 26 countries.  Thailand Pass is a web-based system developed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and DEPA, wherein documents must be submitted through the website www.tp.consular.go.th.  To this end, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will launch a guidebook on the application of Thailand Pass for tourists.
    • Tourists from other countries are permitted only to travel through the 17 ‘Blue Zone’ provinces.  For travels beyond the Blue Zone provinces, they will be to undertake a 7-day quarantine. 
    • As of 24 October, the Phuket Sandbox scheme has reported room bookings throughout July-September of 541925 nights and 55,772 tourists.  For October, its bookings totalled 233,866 nights and it expects forward booking for November and December totalling 134086 nights.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij
    • The newly-launched Tour Teaw Thai domestic tourism campaign, which sees the government subsidising 40 percent of tour packages of up to 5,000 Baht for 1 million people, received lukewarm participation from travellers and tourism operators.  From 8 -20 October, only 383 tour packages were sold from the total of 255.  This is in contrast with the popularity of another domestic tourism scheme, We Travelled Together, which saw over 170,000 room nights booked.  Travellers prefer the latter’s hotel subsidy scheme, which is more flexible than the tour packages offered by the former.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Others
    • PM Prayut has instructed DPM and Commerce Minister Jurin to investigate CNN’s report that tens of millions of counterfeit medical gloves are imported into the US from Thailand.   The CNN news touched on 2 cases of counterfeit medical gloves from Thailand.  The first involved unauthorised production and repackaging of medical gloves and unlawful usage of 2 trademarks into the US.  The second case revolved around the production of counterfeit nitrite medical gloves by Athip Chumphon.  Source:  Bangkok Post
    • Finance Ministry (MoF) aims to cut import tariffs on Electronic Vehicles in 2022 in a move to meet the government’s goal that 30 percent of all cars produced in Thailand will be EVs by 2025.  In addition to tax incentives, MoF will also introduce other non-tax incentives through a comprehensive package, to be implemented on 1 January 2022.  Currently all imported EVS are subject to an 80 percent tariff, with the exception of EVs from China that are exempted from tariff under the ASEAN-China FTA. 
    • NESDC was reported to have convened a meeting yesterday to consider Finance Ministry’s guidelines on the implementation of tariff cut on wine, alcoholic beverages and cigarette as part of the Long-Term resident visa package.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Krungthep Turakij

Headlines summary as of 25 October 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
8,675 (201 from prisons); (excluding ATK 3,525)1,859,157 (last seven days: 65,345)2,437/ 5361,740,316 (+9,589)1,830,29439,999,692  (+118,658) BKK: 8,274,305 (+5,213)2,133,579 (+11,154) BKK: 579,571 (+483)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb) 
8,463 [7,931 (get tested in hospital) + 532 (active case finding)]11 (in SQ)100,042 [57,789 in field hospital]389,932 (+1,020)18,799 (+44) (last seven days: 463)70,505,802 (+226,178) BKK:  14,620,573 (+ 12,180)28,372,531 (+96,366) BKK: 5,766,697 (+6,484) 

Politics

  • All eyes are on who will be the next main opposition Pheu Thai PM candidate. Despite the earlier reports that the name will be nominated at the Party annual convention on 28 October, but yesterday the Deputy head of the party said that the party will announce the name(s) when the House is dissolved or there have been confirmed election date.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Nida Poll has released its latest finding of the popularity of Pheu Thai Party in the Northeast–the party’s political stronghold.
    • The finding showed that 70.59% of the respondents said they voted for Pheu Thai Party; meanwhile, 29.41% showed that they have not voted for the party.
    • On whether the respondents will vote for Pheu Thai in the next election: 48.33 percent said they will definitely vote for the party, 37.12% said they remains unsure, and 12.35 percent said they will not vote for Pheu Thai.—Nida Poll
  • There has been a turbulence within the main-ruling Palang Pracharat Party as the party secretary-general has come up with an idea of conducting a popularity poll for its MP candidates:
    • Sources in the PPRP said that some of the MPs are concerned that this poll will legitimise the preferential treatment for MPs in the secretary-general clique. It is reported that Thammanat, the secretary-general, will focus on the Bangkok and Southern MPs as he believed that the MPs in the area won because of Prayut popularity. There will be a meeting for MPs recruitment committee on 26 October.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The aides to Captain Thammanat gave an interview confirming that the reports and said that the poll was done with the help of Dusit Poll and Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). The MP said that the poll is not conducted in particular areas, but nationwide.—Inside Thailand
    • The government whip and PPRP MP said that the poll did not cultivate preferential treatment, but just to make sure that the party MP candidate will win the election.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The Deputy PM and party leader said, however, that he did not order the secretary-general to make the popularity poll. He said that the former MP candidate must have the priority in being nominated before the new candidate.–Matichon
  • Prachachat Turakij has published the political thoughts on various issues, including his take on the student-led protestor demands on monarchical reforms. Srettha Thavisin is believed to be one of the Pheu Thai PM candidates.—Prachachat Turakij
  • After being off public attention for quite some times, the student-led protest is calling for a major gathering at CBD Ratchaprasong Intersection on 31 October from 4.00pm. The organisers announced that there will be a signatory for the abolishment of royal defamation laws.–Matichon

Australia

Economic:

CPTPP

Foreign Ministry’s International Economic Policy Committee said it is preparing a letter of intent to be signed by its Chair, Foreign Minister Don, who supports Thailand to join the negotiation for CPTPP accession. The Committee met last Monday and instructed all related agencies to compile additional issues such as Thailand’s areas of concern, reservation list and transition period within 30-45 days.  Commerce Ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office, which serves as the Committee’s secretary, will compile these additional issues. These issues will be included in the negotiation framework for CPTPP, which upon completion will be filed for the cabinet’s approval. 

  • The Committee also urged related agencies to establish a remedial FTA fund to assist those affected by Thailand’s accession to the trade pact.  In the pipeline is also the plan to launch a public relations panel to tackle fake news and disseminate correct information on CPTPP.  Sources:  Bangkok Post   Krungthep Turakij

Others

  • The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has further eased the Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio for mortgage lending to allow homebuyers to borrow loans of up to 100 percent in a bid to boost the property sector past Covid-19.  The temporary relaxation is effective as of 20 October 2021 until the end of 2022.  Banks are allowed to approve housing loans for borrowers of up to 10 percent of the total home value for all types of mortgage loan contracts.  Additionally, BOT also allows an LTV ratio of up to 110 percent with a combined mortgage loan and top-up loan for home decoration for a first home priced below 10 million Baht.  The LTV relaxation is expected to attract capital worth 9.8 percent of GDP into the Thai economy and create employment for 2.8 million people. Source:  Bangkok Post Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 22 October 2021

Last week the cabinet had approved of increasing funding for 4 government stimulus measures, namely:

  • Raising monthly stipends for state welfare cardholders and vulnerable groups by 300 Baht for November and December, totalling 600 Baht.  These stimulus measures are now in their 3rd phase
  • Approved additional 1,500 Baht fund of subsidies for participants of the government’s 3rd phase of the Khon La Krueng co-payment scheme for November and December 
  • Ying Chai Ying Dai tax rebate scheme will grant the maximum e-voucher of 10,000 Baht to participants who meet the 60,000 Baht spending criteria, effective from 1-30 November.  This is a 3,000 Baht addition to the previous limit set on the e-voucher of 7,000 Baht.  Source:  National News Bureau of Thailand fb page
  • The Excise Department was given the authority to not approve cigarette importers from selling the product at an unusually low price following changes in the tax structure since 1 October, which is expected to drive up the retail price of cigarettes.  The Excise Dept insists the new tax structure will curb both the sales of illegal cigarettes as well as disincentivise Thais to smoke and improve their health.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Krungthep Turakij 
  • Federation of Thai Industries anticipates car production to grow beyond the target of 1.6 million units this year as COvID-19 infection declines and semi-conductor shortage eases.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • A consortium led by Charoen Pokphand Group is set will take over the operations of Airport Rail Link (ARL) services today, according to the Department of Rail Transport (DRT).  AERA1, formerly known as Eastern High-Speed Rail Linking Three Airports Co Ltd, is CP-led consortium that won the bid to build the high-speed rail linking 3 airports of Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao with a plan to completely take over the ARL’s operations this year.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 15 October 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
10,486 (167 from prisons); (excluding ATK 3,577)1,762,190 (last seven days: 72,753)2,897/ 6841,636,461 (+10,711)1,733,32736,721,779  (+ 481,973 ) BKK: 7,989,020 (+14,043)1,880,193 (+  42,723) BKK: 488,865 (+4,789)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)Active detection test rates (last seven days)
10,277 [9,410 (get tested in hospital) +867 (active case finding)]42 (in SQ)107,606 [66,452 in field hospital]384,687 (+1,054)18,123 (+94) (last seven days: 589)63,614,352 (+ 1,034,549) BKK:  13,502,883 (+ 109,904)25,012,380  (+ 509,853 ) BKK: 5,024,998 (+63,748)14.68%
  • The Japanese ambassador has met with the PM to discuss on easing the entry restriction for Japanese travelling to Thailand.—Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • There were a numbers of developments on 14 October as it marked the 48th anniversary of the 14 October 1973 student uprising:
    • Student-led activists ‘Ratsadorn’ group celebrated its one year anniversary of the most progressive and anti-establishment movement. Ratsadorn group managed to march to the Government House before being dispersed on the morning after. The group is calling for a major protest on 31 October.–Matichon
    • The police patrol car was hit with a small bomb when the police was securing the perimeter of the Democracy Monument when the anarchy-prone Talu Gas Group announced the gathering in the area.—Thai Rath
  • The PM reiterated once again yesterday that he does not have an intention to dissolve the Parliament.  In response to the reports that there are resistance against the PM advisor Piraphan taking a greater role in the main-ruling PPRP, the PM declined to comment.—Khao Sod
  • The Deputy PM and government legal pundit Wissanu said that it will take long for the electoral bylaws to be finalised as the King has not approved the amendment motion.
  • Former Red Shirt leader and anti-PM main figure Jatuporn Promphan has been released from detention from prison after being detained for 97 days. The former Red Shirt leader was in jail for his role in protest in-front of the house of late Privy Council president – Prem Tinsulanonda.—Prachachat Turakij
  • A Harvard Professor has sent a warning to current Harvard students studying abroad or looking to attend events in Thailand that they may face punitive action due to deteriorating academic freedoms. The warning suggested that students attending events at that university should be aware that they place themselves under the same threat of punitive action as local students.—Thai Enquirer

Economic

CPTPP

  • Following PM Prayut’s announcement that Thailand should accede to the CPTPP, an anonymous source from the government house disclosed that the government is planning to establish a CPTPP fund worth around 10 billion Baht to provide remedy to those affected by CPTPP.  Currently the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce, Agriculture & Cooperative Ministry and NESDC are working to fine tune the details of the fund’s mechanism.  The CPTPP fund is being established as per the earlier recommendation of the report compiled by the parliament-appointed CPTPP committee.  The impetus behind the government’s support for Thailand to join the trade pact include 1) China’s potential accession to CPTPP which would significantly increase market access; 2) relocation potential of companies affected by conflicts between China-Taiwan, US – China and 3) Thailand’s APEC Chairmanship in 2022.  Ministry of Commerce also added that it is designing an FTA fund worth some 5 billion Baht to assist those afflicted by free trade agreements in general.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 15 October 2021

Others

  • Tourism and Sports Ministry (MoST) plans on allocating 500 – 600 million Baht to host concerts in Bangkok and Phuket to mark Thailand’s reopening.  The concerts will feature performances by Thai-born K-pop singer Lisa Manoban in Phuket and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in Bangkok.  The performance date is not yet confirmed, but MoST aims for it to coincide with the New Year.  The event is to be co-hosted by the government and private sector, with the former contributing 200 million Baht and the latter 300 – 400 million Baht via private sponsorship.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • PM Prayut hails Fitch Ratings’ most recent assessment of the Thai economy, which indicated that Thailand’s economic recovery in 2022 will be supported by improved COVID-19 vaccination rollout, the reopening of businesses and positive global growth environment.  Recovery of the tourism sector is expected to be gradual, with the Thai GDP forecasted to rebound to pre-pandemic level in early 2023.  The ratings of most major corporations in Thailand have stabilised, but sectors such as hospitality, retail, and banking remained under earnings pressure.  Source:  Thai Government Public Relations Department  Post Today  Bangkok Post
  • Thailand’s economy has bottomed out in Q3 of this year and will continue to recover, although uncertainty remains high, according to the minutes of the Bank of Thailand’s last policy meeting released on Wednesday.  It expects the Thai economy to grow by 0.7 percent in 2021 and 3.9 percent in 2022.   Export will be hampered by supply chain disruption while the tourism sector will see slow recovery. Source:  Bangkok Post The Nation TV
  • The BOT’s Puey Ungphakorn Institution for Economic Research also revealed that Thailand’s differences of opinions could affect Thailand’s economic growth, given that people’s social trust ad reconciliation scores had decline over a 10-year period.  Source:  Bangkok Post 
  • Board of Investment had helped companies secure 248 business pairings worth some 952 million Baht in trade value at the 2021 Subcon Thailand, ASEAN’s largest international industrial subcontracting event which ended on 27 September.  However, this is a slight decline from the BOI’s estimate.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • ASEAN members are accelerating efforts to upgrade the digital economy within the bloc to brave the digital challenge that is accelerated by the pandemic.  Ministry of Commerce’s Trade Negotiations Department is to attend the upcoming 20th ASEAN Economic Community Council meeting on 18 October, which will be the first time the AEC Council meets with ASEAN’s digital ministers.  They aim to exchange views on forging greater synergies between relevant sectors to prepare the region for digital era.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Complaints about unfair trade competition have risen the last 4 years since the Office of the Trade Competition Commission was established as an independent agency on Oct 5, 2017.  As of September this year, the OTCC had received 99 complaints about unfair trade competition. Of the total, 2 were filed in 2017; 11 in 2018; 20 in 2019; 30 in 2020; and 36 in 2021.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 12 October 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
9,445 (201 from prisons); (excluding ATK 1,368)1,730,364 (last seven days: 73,133)2,954/ 6601,604,355 (+11,452)1,701,50135,462,170 (+ 368,278) BKK: 7,923,954 (+17,428)1,774,584 (+41,363) BKK: 469,126 (+6,685)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)Active detection test rates (last seven days)
9,231 [8,987 (get tested in hospital) +244 (active case finding)]13 (in SQ)108,174 [67,762 in field hospital]381,396 (+1,170)17,835 (+84) (last seven days: 632)61,033,251 (+ 805,146 ) BKK:  13,223,839 (+ 109,904)23,796,497 (+ 395,505) BKK: 4,830,759 (+85,791)14.68%
  • The PM held a national televised speech on reopening the Kingdom to international tourists. The full speech can be accessed via—TAT News. Important announcement includes:
    • Thailand will allow fully vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries to enter the kingdom without quarantine from 1 November.
      • There will be at least ten low-risk countries, including Singapore, Germany, China and the US. More countries on the list will be added.
      • Tourists from countries not on the list will be required to undergo quarantine.
    • International visitors will need to show that they are COVID-free at their time of travel with an RT-PCR test undertaken before they leave their home country, and then have a test when arriving in Thailand.
    • These travellers would be allowed to visit any part of the country after meeting these requirements.
    • The government also expects to consider allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in restaurants as well as the operation of entertainment venues by 1 December.–Reuters

Politics

  • In regard to the clash between the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) MPs and the advisor to the PPRP leader Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, there have been some comments to quell the speculation:
    • The Digital Economy Minister and PPRP MP denied the reports that there have been conflicts between the advisor and its MPs. The Minister said that the PM advisor might be new to the party and will need time to get to know with its MPs.—Thai Rath
    • Meanwhile, the Deputy PM and PPRP leader General Prawit said that he has everything under control and that there is no need for the media to concern.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The Labour Minister and PPRP main figure Suchart said that the clash is not a big issue and that everything must be up to the party leader. Suchart said the PM advisor must not get the priority in taking positions on behalf of the PPRP as he is a newcomer.–Matichon
  • Former Energy Minister and PPRP secretary-general Sonthirat Sonthijirawong gave an interview in response to the earlier reports that he will join with other minor parties, namely the New Economy Party and Pheu Chart Party to set up a new political party. The main figure of the fallen-from-grace technocrat team said that he is not part of the political deal, but he said he is interested in politics.–Matichon
  • The main opposition Pheu Thai Party is set to hold a meeting to make a decision on the political destiny of the 2 MPs, Saranwut Sarunket, Uttaradit MP and Pornpimol Thammasarn, MP. Pathum Thani MPs who broke the party’s resolution.–Matichon
  • The Nang Lerng Police Station has filed former Future Forward Party leader case to the attorney general on royal defamation when the opposition leader held a Facebook live questioning the royal involvement of the AstraZeneca producing company.–Matichon

Analysis/ opinion

  • Krungthep Turakij explores the factors why the PM might dissolve the Parliament in early 2023 which will be most beneficial to the ruling coalition:
    • The economic recovery from the pandemic will start picking up during the period after reopening the country by the end of this year.
    • 2022 will be a good chance for the government to introduce stimulus packages and the economic growth might bounce back.
    • The dissolution in 2023 will be best as it offers the government to finalise budget bill and the relocation of civil servants in October 2022.
    • Being the host of APEC meetings will require stability of the government.
    • The media point out to the constitutional condition for 90 days party membership minimum in case of an MP shifting party. If there is a dissolution, the minimum requirement will be that of 30 days.—Krungthep Turakij

Economic:

CBAM

CPTPP

  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) has revised its GDP forecast for the Thai economy in 2021 to a growth of 0 – 1 percent following its meeting yesterday, with export expected to expand by 12 – 14 percent.  The JSCCIB will also submit a letter to PM Prayut to urge that the government make a decision on whether or not it will join the CPTPP negotiation, given that China, the UK and Taiwan are all keen to join the trade pact.  Should Thailand delay its decision further, it will have to negotiate under the conditions set by 11 rather than 9 member countries and lose trade advantages to Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.  JSCCIB will continue to press the MFA’s International Economic Policy Committee to organise a seminar to explain the impacts of CPTPP on the Thai economy to the public, private and NGO sectors.  The JSCCIB also wants PM Prayut to consider revising its co-payment stimulus scheme by raising the limit for government subsidy to 6,000 Baht from 3,000 Baht per person.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Prachachart Turakij

APEC

  • DPM Supattanapong represented Thailand at the 27th APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting, where he discussed Thailand’s plan to develop a digital ecosystem to help Thai MSMEs recover from COVID-19 and promote good well-being.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij  Poojadkarn Online

Others

  • The Board of Investment (BOI) has approved incentives to promote entrepreneurs to upgrade their production and machinery to Industry 4.0 standards.  The incentives include a 3-year corporate income tax exemption covering 100 percent of investment for industry 4.0 upgrade in sectors such as Automoation & Network Technology; Smart Operation; Digital Technology in Production & Enterprise Process.  The goal is to upgrade 10,000 factories in the EEC to become smart factories in 5 years. 
  • BOI’s total investment application value in the first 9 months of 2021 was 521 billion Baht; doubling the value generated in 2020 and also exceeding the total value for the whole year of 2020.  The first 9 months saw 1,273 project applications, compared to 1,623 project applications for the entire year of 2020.  Meanwhile, the Eastern Economic Corridor accounted for 33 percent of the combined investment value applications, with 348 projects worth 174 billion Baht; or a 60.6 percent YoY increase.  Sources:  Bangkok Post  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 12 October 2021
  • Koh Samui’s sandbox program received positive feedback after it lifted the mandatory quarantine, with forward bookings in the first 10 days of October made by 955 tourists, which already exceeded its total forward booking number since its opening on July 15 (booking was from 907 tourists from July 15-Sept 30).  Source:  Bangkok Post  
  • Cha-am’s reopening plan on 1 November, known as Cha-am Sunshine, is anticipated to attract 1,000 international arrivals per month and generate 15-20 million Baht monthly by the end of 2021.  On 13 October, state agencies and operators in Cha-am and Hua Hin will discuss the details on connecting the routes between the 2 areas.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • A Digital Innovation Centre spanning 40,000 square metres of space is planned for Thailand Digital Valley, located in Chon Buri’s Si Racha district, in the next 24 months to allow technology testing and development, according to the Digital Economy and Society Ministry.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 11 October 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
10,035 (72 from prisons); (excluding ATK 2,263)1,720,919 (last seven days: 73,557)2,969/ 6801,592,903 (+10,590)1,692,05635,093,892 (+311,265) BKK: 7,894,512 (+10,352)1,733,221 (+31,779) BKK: 455,084 (+1,563)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)Active detection test rates (last seven days)
9,916 [9,160 (get tested in hospital) +756 (active case finding)]39 (in SQ)110,625 [68,335 in field hospital]380,226 (+1,227)17,751 (+60) (last seven days: 640)60,228,105 (+  688,481) BKK:  13,074,057 (+ 56,491)23,400,992 (+345,437) BKK: 4,724,461 (+44,576)14.68%
  • The MFA spokesperson said that the cordial international relations between the Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Don Paramutwinai and European countries have resulted in the successful procurement of 400,000 doses of Astra Zeneca from Hungary at the cost price. The spokesperson said that apart from Budapest, Bangkok has got 346,100 doses of Astra Zeneca donated from Berlin and 100,620 of Pfizer vaccines from Reykjavík.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The deputy government spokesperson said that there is a concern over the young Tik Tok users who are distributing misinformation over the side effects of the Pfizer vaccines. The spokesperson said that the administering vaccines have got the WHO and American FDA approvals. The PM, according to the spokesperson, has instructed related agencies easing the students concerns.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The vocal Rural Doctor Society has come out to warn that the pandemic is on the rise again and calls for the people to be cautious. The RDS pointed out to the record high of 10,817 ATK cases on 10 October and that the patients with severe condition remain as high as 3,000 patients.—Naew Na

Politics

  • After the PM is reported to ascend the Constitutional amendment motion for the Royal approval on Friday, Deputy PPRP leader and the head of the amendment committee MP Paiboon outlined four issues related to the electoral systems that will be amended:
    • 1. The amendment of constituency vis-à-vis party-listed MPs ratio from 350-150 to that of 400-100.
    • 2. The amendment to two-ballot system: one for constituency; the other for party-listed MP.
    • 3.  The amendment of party-listed MP formula from MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) to Mixed-member majoritarian (MMM) which mean there will be no more party-listed MP which got less than 1 percent votes.
    • 4. The amendment to use one number for both constituency and party-listed MP election (currently different number for each constituency to prevent vote-buying).—Siam Rath
  • It’s a mixed reaction for the PM advisor Pirapan Salirathavibhaga getting into the main-ruling Palang Pracharat Party:
    • Anucha Nakasai, the Minister to the PM Office and main figure in the PPRP welcomed the PM advisor as the PPRP leader advisor and said he did not see any political implication from the appointment.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Meanwhile, PPRP vocal MP Sira Jenjaka said that it is impossible for the PM advisor to get into the party to change the PPRP structure and he hoped the senior figure not to do anything that might undermine the party reputation.—Thai Rath The MP said in response to the reports that Mr Pirapan will be one of the PPRP PM candidates in the next election that if Mr Pirapan is qualified, the Democrat Party where he built his political career for the entire life must have named him its PM candidate.–Matichon
  • Nida Poll released its latest survey on three significant political issues:
    • On the ambiguity of the eight year tenure of PM Prayut, what should General Prayut do? 40.73% of the people said that the PM should declare that his term will end in August next year and step down; 38.37% said that the PM should submit the issue for the Constitutional Court clarity; and 15.03% said that the PM should not do anything.
    • On the House Dissolution: 40.35% of the people think that the PM should announce the dissolution as soon as possible; 30.05% thinks that the government should dissolve the House after the organic laws on the new electoral system are finished; 22.12% thinks that there is no need for the dissolution and that the government should stay on to power until the House term ends; and 5.72%  thinks that the PM should dissolve the House before the next censure debate.
    • On the cabinet reshuffle: 50.43% thinks that there should be a major reshuffle, 18.92% thinks thatthere should not be any reshuffle; 12.36% thinks that the PM should fill in the two vacant portfolios with non-politicians; and 11.82% thinks that there should be a reshuffle for only the two vacant portfolios.
  • Former Democrat figure and now far-right Thai Bakdhi Party leader Warong Dechgitvigrom hosted its party reception event on Saturday underlining the new ‘royalist’ party policy to protect the revered institution from the ‘reformist’ and has pledged to file MP candidate in every constituency. The party leader said he is ready to be the next Prime Minister and has coined in a cutting-edge policy in transforming Thailand to be the new spaceship-launching base.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The Thai Lawyer for Human Rights Group tweeted that they got informed by a 14-year-old juvenile that the police came to apprehend and force the kid to confess as the shooter of the Riot Control Police on 6th October.–Matichon
  • Former Red-shirt leader and recent ‘Thai Mai Thon’ protest leader against PM Prayut Jatuporn Promphan is set to be freed after getting the royal pardon on 13 October. The protest leader was jailed on defamation laws against former PM Abhisit. He was released by royal pardon and returned to jailed again for breaking its conditions.–Matichon
  • In the first day of nomination for the Sub-District Administrative Organization (SAO), an executive from the Progressive Movement announced that the successive movement of the Future Forward Party will file more than 200 teams for the upcoming SAO election (28 November) in every region.–Matichon

Economic:

Long Term Resident Visa Package

  • The Revenue Department is considering lowering personal income tax for foreign experts to 17 percent following the cabinet’s approval of the Long Term Resident (LTR) visa package on 14 September.  The 17 percent tax rate is the same as that offered by the EEC, with the exception being that the foreign experts eligible for LTR visa can work anywhere in Thailand.  Eligible LTR visa foreign experts must also work in fields in which Thailand is facing a shortage.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Customs Department has completed its analysis on the reduction of import duties for wine, alcoholic beverages and cigars by 50 percent for 5 years and is set to propose it to Finance Ministry for consideration soon.  However, Customs does not believe the tariff cuts will be instrumental in luring more foreign talents to Thailand since the items subjected to the tariff cuts are inexpensive, with low existing tariff rate of 30-60 percent.  Nevertheless, Customs is prepared to lower the tariffs if Finance Ministry believes it works. 
  • Board of Investment (BOI) is deliberating on adapting the principles of the Smart Visa to the LTR visa.  BOI is currently in talks with the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Labour as well as Immigration Department to draft the LTR visa guideline.
  • The Thai Chamber of Commerce asked the government to establish an ad-hoc committee to consult with the private sector on important regulation changes necessary for the enforcement of LTR visa package, such as foreign land ownership quota and the abolishment of 4:1 (Thai: foreign worker) ratio.
  • TDRI suggests the government remain open to comments from the private sector and revise a range of regulations in order to attract foreign direct investments into Thailand.  The Stock Exchange Commission noted that in addition to investment incentives, foreign investors and businessmen also make investment decisions based on the country’s digital infrastructure and ease of doing business.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij
  • The real estate sector has responded to the government’s LTR visa package by proposing that foreign ownership quota be raised from 49 percent to 75 percent, and to expand leasehold property rental period from 30 to 90 years.  It suggested that the LTR visa be issued to medical or wellness visitors to help Thailand’s become a medical hub.  It also cautioned the government that the regulation changes should not attract foreign holding companies or nominees, particularly the Chinese, to buy properties in Thailand.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 11 October 2021

APEC

  • On 8 October, PM Prayut presided over the third meeting of the committee that oversees the preparation for the 2022 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and related meetings.  This will be the last meeting before New Zealand is to officially hand over APEC chairmanship to Thailand in November.  At this meeting, PM Prayut instructed related parties to promote the Bio-Circular-Green economic model, climate change, human rights, women’s roles and inclusivity.  Source:  Manager Online  National News Bureau of Thailand fb page 

Others

  • Standard Chartered forecasted that Thailand’s tourism sector will take at least 3 years to rebound to pre-pandemic level even as it starts to reopen to foreign tourists in November, with the Thai economy expected to remain weak throughout 2022-2023.  For the first 8 months of 2021, Thailand’s foreign tourist arrivals dropped to 73,932 visitors from almost 40 million in 2019.  Standard Chartered expected that 6 million tourist arrivals are needed to offset the current account shortfall of USD 8.5 billion from January – August this year.  Next year, the 4 million arrivals could generate revenue equivalent to 1 percent of GDP, based on the assumption that they spend USD1,500 per person.  Sources:  Bloomberg  Post Today
  • Phuket tourism operators have asked the government to salvage its tourism sector by establishing a 5-billion Baht tourism fund.  They suggested that some 3.5 billion Baht is to be allocated to the first sub-fund to help MSMEs, such as by upgrading unlicensed hotels to join the Phuket Sandbox scheme; 1 billion Baht for the second sub-fund to develop the OTOP products and commodities; and 500 million Baht for the third sub-fund to improve tourism destinations and environment.  The capital for the fund could come from the Bank of Thailand’s 250 billion Baht loan, the Phuket sandbox bond or the government’s budget.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has asked the government to carefully deal with two key economic issues — the global oil price surge and baht depreciation to avoid a greater burden on the pandemic-plagued economy.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Headlines summary as of 5 October 2021

News

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesPatients under severe conditions and those using ventilatorsDischarged from hospitalFrom 1 April, totally confirmed cases (third wave)1st dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)3rd dose vaccine recipients (from 16 July)
9,869 (273 from prisons); (excluding ATK 3,495)1,657,231 (last seven days: 75,816)3,013/ 7011,531,655 (+11,152)1,628,36833,243,525  (+255,607) BKK: 8,094,566 (+10,933)1,515,667 (+49,880) BKK: 351,548 (+4,658)
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollTotal vaccination (doses)2nd dose vaccine recipients (from 28 Feb)Active detection test rates (last seven days)
9,579 [8,715 (get tested in hospital) + 864 (active case finding)]17 (in SQ)108,373 [71,724 in field hospital]372,859 (+1,224)14,203 (+92) (last seven days: 705)55,921,443 (+770,947) BKK: 12,650,674 (+63,393)21,162,251 (+465,460) BKK: 4,204,560 (+47,802)13.16%
  • In yet the other round of global shocking ‘Pandora Papers’ by ICIJ, top six richest families in Thailand are on the list. They are
    • Jutinan Bhirombhakdi—Singha
    • Chalerm Yoovidhya—Red Bull
    • Supachai Chearavanont—CP
    • Tos Chirathivat—Central
    • Sarath Ratanavadi—Gulf Energy
    • Petch Osathanugrah—Osotspa—Isra News
  • Thailand began to roll out COVID-19 vaccines to high school students on Monday, in a bid to boost its immunisation rate ahead of a planned school reopening next month. The authority has given Pfizer vaccines to the young. The Bangkok Governor has expected that the two doses vaccination can be completed by October.–Reuters
  • The National Water Command Centre has issued flood warnings in Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and riverside areas of Bangkok. The warning stated that the water level will rise to that of 30 to 50 centimetres.—Khao Sod
  • The German ambassador met the PM to hand over 2,000 units of Covid treatment medicines (Casirivimab/Imdevimab) to the Kingdom and announced that the 346,100 AZ doses pledge will arrive in mid-October.—Thai Rath
  • The PM has ordered Crime Suppression Police to tackle the arms-dealers who have connections to many sectors, including the bureaucrats in Greater Bangkok.—Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • For fear that the Democrat will leave the coalition, the PM just issued an order to revoke his earlier order which had authorised Deputy PM Prawit to look after four departments under fired Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The Deputy PM and Democrat leader Jurin said that he had talked the issue with the PM and he believed the PM will resolve this by placing the coalition unity as the priority.–Matichon
    • The PM order to strip Deputy Minister Thammanat out of portfolio should leave the four departments under the Democrat control as its secretary-general Chalermchai is the Agriculture Minister. The order to give the departments to be in Deputy PM control was seen as a over-stepping for the Democrats.—Nation TV
  • The head of reconciliation committee in the House has suggested two means to end the protracted political conflicts and will submit the full report to the House Speaker in November. The two suggestions are first, to hold a meeting between the government and conflicting parties and second, to hold an arbitrary process before prosecution.—Krungthep Turakij
  • A senior PPRP adviser told Thai Enquirer on anonymity that “many inside the party are now confident that a dissolution will happen, maybe as early as November” and the PM continual denial of house dissolution is just for show. The source said as the House will reconvene in November and learn the inconvenient truth that he cannot pass a bill, let alone govern, the PM will strike first by dissolve the House to save himself from embarrassment.—Thai Enquirer

Economic

  • Tourism operators are concerned about the 500 Baht fee collection from tourists next year as it might impede the sector’s recovery.  This is because the cost is considerably high compared with the average expenditure of travelling in Thailand, while the mechanism of this policy still requires elaborate planning to ensure its feasibility.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The government has revised investment plans under the Eastern Economic Corridor, which is expected to drive the economy to grow by 4.5-5 percent annually between 2022 and 2016.  Much hope is pinned on the EEC to attract investments worth 1.1 trillion Baht from infrastructure projects and investment in targeted industries.  The plans are approved by the EEC Policy Committee chaired by PM Prayut.  For this year, investment in the EEC is anticipated at 1.7 trillion Baht.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand expects to open Smart Park in Rayong province to serve S-Curve industries in the EEC in 2024  The IEAT has hired a Thai firm to supervise the construction of the 12-billion Baht industrial estate, which is expected to drive development of robotics, medical equipment, aviation and aerospace industries.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Become an AustCham member

MEMBER LOG IN