Australian Embassy Updates

Daily Updates on COVID-19

Headlines summary as of 2 June 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19: 
    • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed case, a total of  3,083 cases. Out of the total number, 2,966 have been discharged from the hospital; 59 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed case is a Thai student who travelled back from Saudi Arabia and has been in state quarantine. The new confirmed dead had an operation and were in contact with an earlier confirmed case when hospitalised. This is the 8th straight day which no reports of local transmission. 
    • Disease control department aims to re-open smaller schools (with less than 100 students) on the 4th phase 1st July. As for the larger schools, the department said that it may need to do a mixture of offline and online education. Nightclubs and bars will be allowed to re-opened in the 5th phase. The PM said in a briefing after the cabinet meeting that this has to be decided according to the transmission in the coming days and weeks. Further information will be announced by the Education Ministry.
    • This morning the Minister of Culture said that the CCSA will decide this Friday whether to announce 4-9 July public holidays, substituting the Songkran festival earlier deferred in April. The PM said in a news briefing after the cabinet meeting that it is not yet confirmed, the related agencies need to look into the result of 3rd phase easing first.
    • The cabinet has approved the reduction of land tax by 90 percent for this year and extend the time for tax payment to be by August to help curb with the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Applications to hold a commemoration event on the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre outside the Chinese Embassy was stopped by Thai police. One of the organisers told the media that the police had a discussion with the Chinese Embassy and then rejected the application. The organiser questions the influences mainland had over the Thai government, —Thai Enquirer, Matichon

Politics

  • Yesterday, 18 out of 34 main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) executives resigned, resulted in the dissolution of the board. The party is required to hold a general assembly to pick new board members within 45 days of the dissolution.
    • Finance Minister and the PPRP leader Uttama and his mentor – Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, are set to fight back because any major change in the PPRP could lead to a change in the Cabinet positions that are also controlled by this faction.
  •  A military journalist posted her analysis on Facebook viewing that the resignation of the executives is part of a larger plan of the ruling “3Ps” (PM Prayut, Deputy PM Prawit and Interior Minister “Pok” Anupong) to be in power for 8 years more years. Wassana Nanuam wrote that the strong ties in the 3Ps are solid to the point that it could replace the former politico-military anchor provided by late Privy chief General Prem.

Business:

Post-Pandemic Measures

  • Finance Ministry is preparing to introduce financial and non-financial measures to revive the post-Covid19 economy.  For financial measures, it prioritizes creating jobs in the local economy by having specialized financial institutions and commercial banks offer loans for SMEs and underground borrowers.  For non-financial measures, Finance Ministry aims to establish a 50-billion Baht fund to help SMEs access loans.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927960/recovery-stimulus-coming-together
  • Industry Ministry has approved for SME Development Bank of Thailand (SME D Bank) to disburse soft loans worth 40 billion Baht to help SMEs recover in the post Covid-19 period.  The loan scheme is expected to help 24,000 businesses, create 120,000 jobs and contribute 90 billion Baht to the economy.  Industry Ministry has also approved for the committee for SME development funds under the Pracha Rat scheme to offer loans for 10,000 businesses worth 1.7 billion Baht for drought and pandemic relief.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927876/sme-d-bank-hastens-giving-out-b40bn-to-small-firms  https://www.nationtv.tv/main/content/378779091
  • The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) urges the government to revise The 20-Year National Strategy and The 12th National Economic and Social Development plans.  In the post-Covid19 era, the focus should be on promoting food, tourism, healthcare, medical equipment and renewable energy.  TCCC will also submit its plans for the revised strategy to the government soon.  NESDC will propose its revised plan in September.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927948/national-strategic-plan-requires-revamp

Tourism

  • The Pattaya Business and Tourism Association (PBTA) said the hospitality sector in the province needs to target local tourists as there is likelihood that international tourists might not return until next year.  However, tourism in Pattaya might not be revived as only the beaches are opened, not the entertainment venues or nightlife attractions.  PBTA also urged the government to do more to boost local tourism market, saying that TAT’s 8 billion Baht assistance is a drop in the bucket.  The Association also asked the government to extend social Security compensation payments to workers.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1927820/pattaya-firms-unsure-partial-opening-will-reel-in-visitors
  • Japan mulls opening up to business visitors from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand as it plans to ease its entry ban.  The 4 countries also have strong business ties with Japan.  Moreover, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand are fellow CPTPP members, while Thailand, which wants to join the multilateral framework, hosts many Japanese companies.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927692/japan-may-soon-allow-business-visits-from-thailand 

Others

  • The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) will present its study on the economic cost of banning chlorpyrifos and paraquat to Prime Minister in a few weeks.  TCC is asking to have the ban suspended for a year, while proposing a compromise of limiting imports of the agricultural chemicals.  Meanwhile, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Mananya Thaiset vowed to push for a ban on glyphosate.  Sources:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388891?utm_source=category&utm_medium=internal_referral   https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1927916/farmers-to-hand-back-chemicals
  • Thailand Knitting Factory Ltd, the manufacturer of Harn Khu (Double Goose) t-shirts, is undergoing a restructuring after 64 years.  In the first quarter of 2020, the Covid19 outbreak has devastated it revenue with its retail outlets at department stores forced to close down.  The company will diversify into manufacturing new products in the health category, such as facial masks, to cater to the new normal lifestyle.  It also has plans to manufacture PPE gowns.  In the future, its envisages forging new collaborations to develop innovative apparel lines; a recipe to ensure its survival.  Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/436089
  • Luxury low-rise housing market showed signs of recovery in May, following a drop in March and April.  The segment has real demand and was just delaying their buying decisions in the early stage of the pandemic outbreak.  According to CBSE, sales have started to recover since last week, with the overall residential market poised to return in the second half if the pandemic outbreak is controlled.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927904/posh-low-rise-market-eyes-recovery
  • The Bank of Thailand (BOT) will impose measures to curb the swift Baht appreciation, which will ravage the already fragile business sector and economy.  The local currency appreciated to the highest level in two months, at 31.74 to USD and rose 1.8 percent in May, the biggest monthly gain in 2020.  The appreciation is attributable to the surge in gold price and the Covid-19 situation in Thailand and its Q1 economic figures surpassing expectations.  As a result, investors may have been buying the Baht and regional currencies to park their short-term funds, thus increasing the short-term inflow and pushing up the Baht.  BOT will also monitor transactions by gold traders to ensure they comply with regulations.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388861?utm_source=homepage_hilight&utm_medium=internal_referral   https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1928000/bot-warns-baht-uptick-could-increase-fragility

ASEAN/World

  • Cambodian leader said that China has not been given exclusive rights to use a naval base on the country’s southern coast and that warships from all nations, including the United States, are welcome to dock there. Hun Sen also said Cambodia was open to holding joint military exercises with all foreign countries, but they would have to be conducted after the threat from the coronavirus has passed. –AP, Thai Post

Headlines summary as of 1 June 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed case, a total of  3,082cases. Out of the total number, 2,965 have been discharged from the hospital; 60 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 57. The newly confirmed case is a Thai lady arriving from Russia and has been in state quarantine since. According to CCSA, today marks the seventh consecutive days when there is no single local transmission in Thailand. 
      • The CCSA spokesperson said we still cannot be at ease since it must be 14-21 days straight without any local transmission.
    • Today is the beginning of the 3rd phase COVID-related restriction with lesser curfew hours, longer operating hours for stores and more businesses to be re-opened.
      • Media picked up a part of the interview by the Dean of Faculty of Medicine, Mahidol University, pointing out the possibility of the 2nd wave transmission after the ease of lockdown is imminent. The faculty later pointed out that the media report is misinformation.
    • Thai media reported quoting Yomiuri (a Japanese news agency), reporting on the Japanese government’s plan to re-opening its border to welcome tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand which have low numbers of COVID-19 infections.

Politics

  • The Parliament voted to pass 3 executive decrees backing the borrowing of 1.97 trillion baht to finance economic support packages to ease the COVID-19 effects.
    • The Opposition was joined by the second and third largest coalition Bhumjaithai and Democrat party to set up a committee to scrutinise the spending of the bill.
    • Yesterday, media reports on factions in the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) where there were meetings held at the exact same time by each faction leaders to do head-count of MPs in the upcoming bid of the leadership change.
    • The 3 factions of Saam Mitr Group, Government chief whip Wirat Rattanaset’s group and Bangkok faction led by Education Minister Nataphol rallied to support Deputy PM Prawit to replace the current leadership.
    • Finance Minister and Party leader Uttama and Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, as the PPRP’s secretary-general, also called a meeting of MPs to secure the support of MPs at Room 417 in Parliament complex while Deputy Agriculture and Cooperative Minister Thammanat is reported to convene a meeting of
      nearly 30 MPs in the next room. 
    • Vocal MP Sira said the reports of Mr Uttama and Mr Thammanat factions being able to rally 60 MPs might be false. He heard that the group had only 26 MPs. The rest of the MPs might be ‘battered’ (enlarged) by flour from Australia (an attack against Mr Thammanat and his involvement with smuggling ‘flour’ into Australia). 
    • Breaking: Media reports that Mr Somsak, one of the main member of the Saam Mitr Group said, there is going to be a ‘big news’ this afternoon. Media expected that half of the PPRP executives will resign rendering the current leadership under Uttama and Sontirat to be out of position. The party assembly will be convened and the new leadership will be nominated, prior to the cabinet reshuffle later this month. 
  • Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong is reported to order a committee to be set up to look into alleged corruption in solders’ allowances at the army’s Ordnance Department after Sergeant Narongchai Intarakawee came out to blow the whistle on the issue. Earlier, the situation was turned upside down, when the supervisor of the Sergeant was filmed threatening him to behave according to the Army’s ‘code of conduct, unless he did not want to proceed in this career. Gen Apirat also has threatened to impose severe penalties on Sgt Narongchai as he said the latter had deserted the military for more than 16 days. Sgt Narongchai could be charged with absence without leave and face a jail term of up to 7 years if found guilty.

Business:

  • According to the Bank of Thailand, Thailand’s key economic data contracted to record-low levels in April.  The only factor supporting the economy was public expenditure, evidenced by an expansion of 28.9 percent in April YoY.
  • There are no foreign arrivals in April and May due to the inbound travel ban.  From January to April, international arrivals declined 52.2 percent YoY, totalling 6.69 million.
  • From January to April, Thailand still reports a current account surplus of USD8.9 billion. April’s merchandise export value saw a contraction of 3.3 percent YoY, and by 15.9 percent if gold is excluded.  Exports of automotive and parts in April plunged by 49 percent to a record low. Import value dropped 17 percent in April YoY, resulting in a current account deficit of USD700,. 
  • Private consumption dipped 15.1 percent YoY to a record low, as did consumer confidence and business sentiment.  The number of firms registered for temporary business suspension under Section 75 soared to 2,406 in April from 445 in March, while that of employees under the section surged to 465,218 from 96,264.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1926560/quarterly-figures-hit-record-trough
  • The automotive sector and related supply chain demand urgent assistance from the government, otherwise it may collapse,.  Excise Department had earlier rejected the Federation of Thai Industries’s (FTI) proposal for the government to slash excise tax for cars by 50 percent.  Excise tax on cars contributes 100 billion Baht annually to state revenue.  FTI’s other proposals are: a car-trade-in scheme for 100,000 Baht paid by the state and a delay in Euro 5 emission standard enforcement.
  • In the worst-case scenario, FTI projects that the 2020 car production could plunge to 1 million with 50:50 percent ratio allocation for domestic and export.  Consequently, car sales in 2020 could amount to only 5 million, a 50-percent drop YoY.  This is in line with Nissan’s projection that car production will stand at 6 -6.1 million, the lowest in ten years.  The impacts will be more severe on eco-cars than pick-up cars.  Nissan has resumed its plant 1 in Samut Prakarn, but the second plant remains shut until further assessment based on the easing of the lockdown.
  • From January to April, FTI revealed that Thailand had a total auto capacity of 478,393 units, a 32.8 percent YoY decrease.  The number of car sold was 230,173, a 34.2 percent decline YoY.  In April, car production slid 83.6 percent YoY and 83.2% from March to 24,711 units.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927372/fti-sounds-alarm-on-auto-industry https://www.thansettakij.com/content/motor/436085
  • Thailand’s car part export is anticipated to contract by 10 percent in 2020 as the country is an original equipment manufacturer for many global brands.  In Q1 of this year, Thailand’s car part export saw a 1 percent increase YoY, totalling 5.4 billion USD.  In April and Q2, export figure is expected to see negative growth but will improve starting from Q3.  However, Thailand’s car part export still faces non-tariff barriers from the new NAFTA (USMCA), which requires cars to use 75 percent local content to be eligible for tax exemption.  Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/Macro_econ/436093

Others:          

  • CPTPP will be considered by the parliament at its next meeting.  New Palangdharma Party believes that the members of parliament will agree with the establishment of a committee to deliberate Thailand’s accession to CPTPP as it relates to the interest of the nation.  Source:  https://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/883071
  • Airbnb expects the market for longer-term stays to expand as people become accustomed to working remotely.  The pandemic will trigger tourists to travel by car within a few hours’ drive from home province, wherein domestic travel will lead Thailand’s recovery.  Short-term rentals will become an essential part of Thailand’s tourism mix and a valuable driver of economic growth.  Airbnb contributed to over 40 billion Baht to Thailand in 2019, a 17 percent increase YoY, with an average daily guest spend of 3,291 baht.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927384/outbreak-spurs-longer-stays
  • Finance Ministry said the government can borrow an additional 100 billion Baht to offset a budget deficit if state revenue collection for fiscal 2021 misses its target due to the pandemic and drought.  The fiscal 2021 budget deficit will widen to 730 billion Baht if the additional borrowing is sought.  The 2021 budget has set targets for expenditure at 3.3 trillion Baht and revenue at 2.67 billion baht, leaving a deficit of 630 billion Baht.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927404/budget-bureau-gives-nod-to-further-b100bn-in-borrowing
  • Incentives from the Finance Ministry may be added to the Board of Investment’s privileges for investment in bio-economic corridors, especially in the farm sector.   BOI in February approved in principle the promotion of Thailand as a bio-economy hub as part of the S-curve industries, which will also increase local income household and reduce income inequality Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1927376/finance-ministry-seeks-ways-to-boost-bio-economy

ASEAN/World

  • Thai media reports on the unrest in many states in the US after the deadly arrest of an African American Mr George Floyd. The protest under the message ‘I can’t breathe’ has been spilled over to other cities in Europe.–All media outlet
  • Last Friday, FCCT launched a talk on  ‘Milk Tea Alliance: Diplomacy in the Social Media Age’, discussing the phenomena when the Thai, Hong Kong and Taiwanese netizens, forming a ‘milk tea alliance’, were involved in the online spats with Chinese mainland netizens. The panel discussed the limitation of mainland ‘soft power’ in winning favour over Thai younger generations.—Matichon

Headline summary as of 29th May 2020

News

Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Thailand reports 11 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,076 cases. Out of the total number, 2,945 have been discharged from hospital; 74 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 57. All the newly confirmed cases are from Kuwait and in state quarantine.
  • The CCSA will make a decision to have the 3rd phase of restriction easing today. It is expected that the curfew hours will be from 11.00pm-03.00am and that massage parlour and cinema will be allowed to re-opened. The department store will be allowed to opened until 9pm. Plus, the numbers of people sharing the same table for dining in will be allowed to be up to 4-6 people. Event holding venue (smaller than 20,000 square metres) will be allowed to be re-operated.
  • Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital of Mahidol University, warned that a 2nd wave of Covid-19 is possible for Thailand.
  • Former Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai did a keynote speech on Thailand and its impacts on Thai Foreign Policy, pointing out the vague post COVID-19 world order, Thai-ASEAN engagements, Thai engagements with major powers, Thai response to food & health security and Thai long-term strategy.—The Standard Economic Forum

Politics

  • Exclusive interview from the former Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. The former top diplomat has criticised the current government for being as corrupt as previous administrations and undermining the country’s democratic system.—Thai Enquirer
  • A video clip of a conversation between an army sergeant and his superior went viral after the former lodged a complaint on May 20th with the House committee on law, justice and human rights committee about alleged irregularities in the army’s allowances for soldiers. The superior threatened the sergeant’s military career will be cut short, if he does not adjust himself to fit in the army tradition (not being a whistle-blower).—all media outlet
  • The Attorney-General announced decision to not appeal the acquittal by the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases of ousted and self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s son Panthongtae Shinawatra in connection with money laundering charges related to a Krungthai Bank Plc (KTB) loan scandal.—all media outlet

Business:

 Economic News Summary, 29 May 2020

  • National Economic and Social development Council (NESDC) estimates that 8.4 million workers are at risk of unemployment, of which 2.5 million are from the tourism, 1.5 million from industrial and 4.4 million from other service sectors.  Employment in the agricultural sector will also decline due to the drought, with the farm sector is seeing the highest seasonally unemployed workers in 7 years of 370,000 workers. Unemployment changes will be apparent in Q2 and the second half of the year. 
  • However, as the economy starts to re-open, NESDC forecasts the 2020 unemployment rate to be 3-4 percent with 2 million unemployed people. To create 200,000 jobs for new graduates, NESDC plans to ask for financial assistance from the government’s 400 billion Baht budget allocated for economic and social rehabilitation. 
  • In Q1 2020, Thailand’s unemployment rate was still low at 1.03% of the total workforce (395,000 people), but was an increase from 0.92% YoY.  There are 37.42 million workers employed in Q1, down 0.5 percent YoY, marking the fourth straight quarter of decrease. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1926036/nesdc-14-4m-workers-at-risk
  • The Industry Ministry, NESDC and Finance Ministry plan to establish a 5-billion-Baht venture capital fund to provide liquidity to entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic.  The funding will come from the 400 billion Baht allocated for economic and social rehabilitation and will be proposed to the cabinet by July 7. 
  • The Industry Ministry is not concerned that electronic companies will move production plants to neighbouring countries.  Global brands, ie: Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba, assured the ministry they will continue to increase investment in Thailand, particularly in high technology and innovation.  In the Q1 2020, three electronics factories closed in Thailand but 33 new factories opened, creating a net gain of 25,000 jobs.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1926088/ministry-led-b5bn-venture-capital-fund-moves-ahead
  • Nissan Motors (Japan) will be closing its manufacturing plants in Spain and Indonesia, while increasing the activities of its plant in Thailand.  The closure of Nissan’s Indonesian plant will make Thailand its only manufacturing base in ASEAN.  Nissan’s commitment to the country reflected through its previous 10 billion Baht investment in electric vehicles project in Thailand.  This is part of Nissan’s 4-year business plan to restructure its car manufacturing plants worldwide.  Source: https://www.thansettakij.com/content/motor/436348
  • Yesterday the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) met with foreign investors from Japan, Europe and the US, many of whom are interested to co-invest with Thai entrepreneurs because of the pandemic.  Most companies with operations in China are eyeing relocating to Southeast Asia.  Thailand is among the top choice due to its geographical location as well as availability of seaports and basic infrastructure for high-tech industries.  Foreigners have already switched to buying electronic components from Thailand when China was under lockdown. 
  • Japan is encouraging its manufacturers to move out of China, with mid-tech manufacturers aiming to move to Thailand due to the cheaper labour.  High-tech industries will re-shore its workers.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388713
  • Paraquat and chlorpyrifos manufacturers/importers have 270 days to destroy their stock, while a 90-day deadline was given to farmers to return the chemicals for destruction as their possession is considered illegal.  Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has set up a working group on the three hazardous agrochemicals to deal with the case.  Guidelines for how to destroy the chemicals will be publicised later. 
  • Department of Agriculture faces a challenging job creating a task force to create understanding with local farmers on how to deal with the two banned hazardous chemicals.  The Federation of Safe Agriculture commented that farmers are the ones most affected by the ban.  There is no compensation for farmers although they spent their own money to buy the chemicals.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1925892/farmers-given-90-days-to-hand-in-chemicals
  • Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) plans to propose three conditions for reviving tourism to the government: open up in July by first allowing coronavirus-free nations to visit without the 14-day quarantine; require a health certificate; and provide a free rapid test on arrival.  This could garner 4 million Chinese visitors and 16 million international tourists this year as targeted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
  • During the first two months of reopening, at least 100,000 international tourists will visit Thailand each month (down from 3 million before the outbreak), which will generate 5 billion baht in monthly income. The few months leading to China’s Golden Week in October are crucial for operators to start up their marketing to Chinese tourists.  Chinese tourists during Q1 plunged 60 percent YoY to 1.25 million, with revenue falling by 64 percent to 57.2 billion baht.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925980/travel-agents-want-tourists-in-july

Economic Analysis

  • Standard Chartered Bank forecasts that Thailand’s GDP will shrink by 13 percent in Q2 YoY and may not be the lowest point, depending on the recurrence of the pandemic outbreak and vaccine development.  Recovery will take two years to return to pre-pandemic level, starting in the second half of 2020.   Domestic demand will gradually recover with Thailand’s reopening in May.  The government is advised to adopt new instruments that are not soft loans to help SMEs.
  • The bank projects that year 2020 will witness a 5 percent GDP contraction if a vaccine is commercially available next year; 3 percent contraction if a vaccine is ready this year and a 10 percent contraction if the pandemic recurs.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1926000/two-year-path-to-prior-growth-seen
  • Fitch Ratings speculates that Thailand will face its longest period of contraction since the 1997 Asian Financial crisis. Thailand’s exposure to external demand (exports account for 50 percent of GDP) – and tourism and travel which indirectly account for 22% of economic activity – leaves it vulnerable to the global slump. The full effect of the global tourism slump will become more apparent in the second quarter of this year.  The pace at which domestic activity can recover in the second half of 2020 and 2021 will depend on the effectiveness of policymakers’ stimulus measures, and when the government kick-starts its infrastructure investment.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1926216/hard-road-to-recovery

ASEAN/World

  • Chinese Embassy Bangkok Facebook Page earlier yesterday published a post legitimising the passing of Hong Kong security bills before it was deleted and replaced with a scoop on protests violence by CGTN.

Australia

  • Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, the UK and the US jointly issued a joint statement condemning the mainland Chinese decision to pass the security law threatening stability and the prosperity of Hong Kong.—VOA Thai

Headline summary as of 28th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 11 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,065 cases. Out of the total number, 2,945 have been discharged from hospital; 63 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 57. All newly confirmed cases are returning from overseas and in state quarantine.
    • This morning, the PM is chairing the inner circle of CCSA (security, interior and public health apparatus) to discuss the 3rd phase of easing restrictions and the reduction of curfew hours. Earlier yesterday, the Security Council and other security apparatus could not reach a consensus on the 3rd phase restrictions. Tomorrow, the proposal will be for the whole CCSA board to elaborate. The Secretary-general of the Public Health Ministry said some businesses which have been considered to be at high-risk (cinema and boxing stadiums) will be eased in the upcoming 3rd phase easing.—all media outlet
    • Yesterday in the House debate, the PM defended the executive decree on one trillion loans to cushion the economy from the effects of COVID-19.
      • The loan will be divided into 2 sets (600 and 400 billion):
        • As for the 600 billion THB, just over half of this amount will be set aside as cash relief for millions of people and businesses adversely affected by Covid-19, while 45 billion baht will be used to support public health works.
        •  
        • As for the 400 billion, it will be used to create jobs and revitalise the economy, including plans to revive local and community economy.
    • The Transport Minister said the PM has ordered the Ministry to curb with COVID-19 in case Thailand is re-opening its airspace to welcome international travellers. The Minister said the ministry eyes to sign an MoU with countries which could successfully control COVID-19.—all media outlet
    • After facing criticisms on the complex procedures of “Thai Chana” platforms to trace COVID-19 transmission, the Digital Economy Ministry is aiming to launch an application to simplify the usage.
    • The Songkhla governor on Wednesday ordered the closure of the Padang Besar border checkpoint in Sadao district after the government reported six of nine new coronavirus patients had returned home via this checkpoint.

Politics

  • In a rare exclusive interview with Deputy PM and the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party chief strategist General Prawit, he said that cabinet reshuffle is possible after the Parliament is in its session and the COVID situation eased. He assured that there is no rift within the main ruling party, despite reports on the internal conflicts between the current leadership under DPM Somkid faction and DPM Prawit wing.—Daily News
  • Deputy PM Wissanu defended the government’s extension of security decree to US Ambassador to Thailand, citing the decree would provide nationwide single standard of COVID-19 handles and would allow the government prompt response to lockdown on some businesses.—all media outlet
  • Move Forward Party held a press conference yesterday aiming to impeach main figure in the PPRP and Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat for his wife is the owner of a market which operates on government agencies land and that he was jailed in Australia by NSW Court. The Party has submitted a letter to the House Speaker to seek Constitutional Court advice on the status.—all media outlet
    • Captain Thammanat responded by saying that some actions against him is done by childish and reckless party. He also threatened to file a legal case on defamation against the party in the Southern province of Narathiwat where he also has his residency.
  • King’s Prajadhipok’s Institute published its research on the “The beginning of the establishment of democracy with monarchy as the head of state” (in Thai) is open for download via its website. The researcher traced King Rama 9’s speeches as a speech act to construct the nationhood, citizen, and the monarchical relations with political institutions.

Business:

Government’s Stimulus Measures

  • The Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives expects to complete the payment of Covid-19 aid money to 8 million farmers by the end of May (this Sunday).  BAAC estimated that 10 million farmers are eligible, but many were disqualified because they are civil servants or still earn income from other jobs or are deceased.
  • Some 10.3 billion Baht will be made available as loans to an estimated 2,800 commercial and artisanal fishermen in accordance with the cabinet’s decision on 26 May.  The loans will improve the fishermen’s liquidity since many of them could not go to the sea after the migrant workers returned home.  The loans will have 7-year repayment period with 7 percent interest rate, to be offered by Government Savings Bank and BAAC.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925312/cash-aid-for-8m-farmers-winding-up

CPTPP

Pesticide Banning

Export

  • The Egg Board agreed to allocate 50 million Baht from farmers’ assistance fund to support farmers, traders and exporters with management costs, ie: packing, transporting and egg grading, at a rate of 50 satang per egg from 1 June – 30 Nov.  The move is poised to help farmers amidst the slump in egg price resulting from an oversupply of 100 million eggs in the domestic market.  Ex-farm prices of eggs are currently quoted at 2.40 baht apiece, lower than farmers’ production cost of 2.70 Baht apiece. 
  • Commerce Ministry also plans to export about 200 million eggs through a 6-month campaign.  The first 100 million eggs will be exported from June to September, and the rest from October to November.  The department will also sell up to 15 million eggs in the next two months at the Ministry of Commerce’s Blue Flag shops nationwide.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925352/board-allots-b50m-to-egg-farmers  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388641

Aviation

  • The Central Bankruptcy Court accepted a Thai Airways International (THAI) debt rehabilitation petition yesterday (27 May).  Tris Rating subsequently downgraded Thai Airways’ rating and its ratings on senior unsecured debentures to default.  The court was informed that Thai Airways had registered capital of 26.9 billion Baht, debts of 354.4 billion and assets of 349.6 billion Baht. The petition also nominated rehabilitation planners, comprising its four board members and two other board members (Thai Airways Acting President and the airline’s chairman).  The first hearing is set for August.
  • Thai Airways’s newly-appointed board member, Pailin Chuchottaworn has resigned, citing a violation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission regulation.  Pailin was the Deputy Transport Minister from December 2017 until last year.  According to the regulation, he is prohibited from assuming a position in any organisation in which the government holds a stake within two years of leaving a cabinet minister post.  Sources: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1925428/board-shakeup-as-thai-debt-rehab-commences   https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925376/downgrade-wont-affect-thai-liabilities

Others

  • April’s Manufacturing production index (MPI) was 79.04, the lowest since November 2011 and a 17.2 percent YoY decline, attributable to the contractions in industrial and manufacturing sectors.  April’s capacity utilisation rate was 51.9 percent.  Capacity utilisation rate for Q1 is 66.7 percent, falling from 71.3 percent from the same period last year.
  • The Ministry of Industry downgraded the MPI for 2020 to a record low of negative 6-7%, with industrial GDP contracting 5.5-6.5%.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925456/mpi-dips-to-lowest-since-2011
  • New business registrations in April totalled 3,996, decreasing by 33 percent YoY.  Compared to March, business registrations fell 34% from 6,066.  This is due to potential investors’ delaying making new investments.  For the first four months this year, the number of business registrations totalled 23,411, down 12 percent YoY.  Registered capital was 80.1 billion baht, up 19 percent YoY.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1925416/registrations-see-further-fall-in-april

Headline summary as of 27th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 9 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,054 cases. Out of the total number, 2,931 have been discharged from hospital; 66 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 57. All the new cases are in state quarantine, returning from aboard.
    • Cabinet approved the extension of the emergency decree to be enforced until the end of June, despite calls from oppositions and businesses to scrap the decree as the numbers of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases is in single digit for days.
    • Yesterday, the PM held a national address elaborating on the significance of extending emergency decree and thank Thai billionaires who the government reached out earlier on to assist in dealing with COVID-19.—all media outlet
    • CNN article on “Why Thailand isn’t reopening to international tourists yet”–CNN
    • An opinion piece on sharing pantry as an economic response to COVID-19 in Thailand.–TCIJ

Politics

  • The House is set to begin their debate on the loan bills today, with ruling and opposition MPs are getting ready for the debates.—all media outlet
  • Spokesperson of the Move Forward Party said they are seeking the impeachment of MP and Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompaw over his criminal record in Australia. The MPs aims to file to the motion to the House Speaker and the Constitutional Court.—all media outlet.
  • House largest and the main opposition Pheu Thai Party said its candidate has pulled out of a by-election in Constituency 4 of Lampang province scheduled for June 20, despite having a greater chance of beating the main ruling Phalang Pracharath Party (PPRP).—all media outlet
  • The CARE Group led by Phumtham, an adviser to the leader of Pheu Thai Party is reportedly going to hold talks with more than 30 party members. Next week, the group will launch an online forum via Twitter and Facebook to publicise its ideas on various aspects.
    • Pro-government Nation Group media reported that this might be a “come-back plot” of the ousted and self-exiled former PM Thaksin to return to power.—Kurngthep turakij, Nation Weekend

Business:

PM Prayut’s televised broadcast, 26 May

  • PM Prayut instituted a 30-percent quota on all state procurement budgets to purchase local products from SMEs and MSMEs, which must also comply with WTO regulations.  Relevant agencies must send him reports that they have fulfilled this requirement by year-end.
  • Government agencies are to spend their meeting budgets on local hotels and other venues to give additional income to the hard-hit tourism and travel sectors.
  • He noted that employees in some business sectors have not been receiving social security benefits if they close voluntarily.  He noted that the problem has been fixed.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1924652/pm-looks-to-bolster-smes

Cabinet’s Decisions, 26 May 2020

  • A 39.42 billion Baht budget is set aside as cash-handout to the 13.14 million ‘vulnerable’ people, comprising children up to 6 years old; and the elderly and disabled people.  They will be paid 1,000 Baht monthly for three months, until July.  This will supplement their existing aid payments.
  • Civil servants who also work as farmers are deemed ineligible for Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative’s cash-handout, which is intended for full-time farmers.
  • A panel was appointed to follow-up on Thai Airway’s rehabilitation plan, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
  • A committee will be established to consider whether Thailand should join the CPTPP and report back to PM Prayut with a conclusion in 30 days.  Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek reiterated that the lower house panel will open for public opinions, and that the objective is to decide if Thailand should negotiate the accession process.  Thailand will not be signing any documents, reflecting that no commitments have been made.
  • Ministry of Finance is delegated to concoct additional financial aids for SMEs, as well as to ensure they can access the 500 billion Baht soft-loan.  MoF will present at the next cabinet meeting the budget, interest rate and loan limit.
  • A 10-billion Baht loan will be extended to those operating in the fishery sector
  • The 2021 budget worth 3.3 trillion Baht is approved in principle.  On 16 June, it will be presented for the cabinet’s consideration and submitted to the parliament.  Sources:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1924668/b39bn-for-handouts-gets-nod https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1924644/court-to-rule-whether-to-accept-thai-rehab-petition   https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388577 https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924584/govt-to-consider-joining-asia-pacific-trade-pact-in-a-month

Others

  • The committee for SME development funds, chaired by Ministry of Industry, under the Pracha Rat scheme has approved loans worth 1.7 billion Baht for 10,000 businesses to combat the drought and pandemic.  The SME Development Bank will provide the loans, for which applications close on July 31.  Since 2017, the government has approved soft loans under the Pracha Rat fund of 20 billion Baht for SMEs following the Thailand 4.0 initiative. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924796/panel-okays-b1-7bn-for-10-000-smes
  • Thailand’s rubber glove export surged by 16 percent to USD 449.2 million from January – April YoY.  In particular, shipments to markets with which the gloves can be exported free of tariff under FTAs reported healthy growth, ie: exports to Australia increased by 79 percent at USD 9.60 million and China by 129.5 percent to USD31 million.  Commerce Ministry’s Department of Trade Negotiations attributes the rise in rubber glove exports to Thailand having developed a complete supply chain for the industry.  In 2019, Thailand was the third-largest rubber glove exporter.  Sources:  https://www.thaigov.go.th/news/contents/details/31519 https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924800/rubber-glove-exports-get-pandemic-boost
  • Thailand plans to adapt its production of medical equipment in response to WTO’s call seeking for collaboration in the production and liberalisation of medical devices.  WTO’s report urges members to relax trade barriers and liberalise access to medical products such as medicines, hand sanitisers and medical masks to combat Covid-19.  Last year, Thailand exported medical products worth USD3.656 billion to key markets such as the US, Vietnam and Japan.
  • To this end, the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association (TGMA) asked the government to set up labs for testing medical masks, PPE and other textile products.  It also urged the government to improve the manufacturing standards for these products in an effort that is expected to cost 100 million Baht.  TGMA also asked the government for a soft loan of 3 billion Baht to help the industry branch into medical products as a way to survive.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388486
  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative has been publicizing that anyone in possession of paraquat and chlorpyrifos from June 1 onwards will be fined 1 million Baht and jailed for 10 years.  This was disseminated to farmers in all 4 regions of Thailand through mobile billboard and communicated through community leaders.  Source: https://www.thansettakij.com/content/Macro_econ/435675

Australia

  • Local media reported that  the Investigation Division 2 has been coordinated by a lawyer of Australian citizen who was tricked by a group of Thais and foreigners (a French and a German) in Pattaya.—Pattaya News

Headline summary as of 26th May 2020

News

Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Today, Thailand reports 3 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,045 cases. Out of the total number, 2,929 have been discharged from hospital; 59 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 57.
  • Today, in the cabinet weekly meeting, one of the agenda is whether the cabinet will approve the extension of emergency decree to until the end of June.
  • With the 3rd phase of COVID restriction easing is set to be elaborated by CCSA tomorrow, some boxing stadiums have already posted on their social media since 22 May that their fans should be ready, they are set to re-open. Earlier in February, two boxing stadiums with deep Army connection were the largest cluster and super-spreaders of COVID-19 in Thailand.–all media outlet
  • Advance Info Service (AIS), Thailand’s largest mobile operator, said that a database leak which released 8.3 billion internet records of millions of customers did not contain any sensitive information and that it had shut down the database. The operator was pointed out by tech companies and internet users that AIS’s database was accessible to anyone without a password and the leaked information could be used to track and construct pictures of what households were doing on their internet connection.–Thai Enquirer, BBC Thai

Politics

  • iLaw, a local NGO on rule of law, released voting records of the security force chiefs who also seat as senate, according to the junta-drafted but referendum-approved 2017 Consitution. Out of 145 voting agendas, Navy Chief ditched 144 times and Army Chief Apirat skipped 143 times. The only agenda which all security chief voted on was the agenda to transfer part of the budget and personnel of the Thai army to be under the direct control of His Majesty the King. Under the current constitution, six security force chiefs also seat as senates in the interim period, holding an extra power of nominating the Prime Minister.–all media outlet
  • The spokesperson of the Army cited security chiefs might have their own businesses to attend to. The spokesperson believed that the chiefs could explain themselves.–all media outlet
  • With the ongoing reports on the internal rift within the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party, the PPRP is set to hold an MPs meeting today to prep the MPs on the upcoming House debate on loans bill. 
  • Deputy PM Prawit, as the PPRP chief strategist and the, reportedly, contender for the party leader said he would not be present at the meeting. He merely said, “I am not going, nothing to do with me.
  • Yesterday, the Finance Minister and party leader Uttama called a meeting for 40MPs at the Finance Ministry to brief the MP on the upcoming debate. The Energy Minister and MPs under ‘Sam Mitr’ faction were not present at yesterday’s meeting.
  • The leader and MP of the Move Forward Party (the successor of now-defunct Future Forward Party) Pita said he could not join the Parliamentary debates on the COVID-related loans as he is going through neck operation.
  • With the news reporting on close aides to ousted and self-exile former PM Thaksin eyeing to set up a new political party after the internal conflict in the House largest and main opposition, Pheu Thai party reportedly reaches the point of no return, it is unclear what the political consequences it will have on the ‘deal’ Thaksin reportedly had with the ‘powerful figure’ not to get involved in politics.–Daily News
  • Breaking: Pheu Thai Party decided not to run for the re-election in the Northern province of Lampang, leaving the candidate from the opposition Seri Ruam Thai party to run on behalf of the opposition against the main ruling PPRP. 

Business:

Economic Recovery Plans

  • National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) approved for the 400 billion Baht allocated for economic and social rehabilitation projects to be spent on four sectors:
    1. Future sustainable growth (smart agriculture, large-scale farming, food processing, bio-economy, tourism)
    2. Local economic development – 200 billion Baht would go to supporting community businesses and community tourism.  Tourism and Sports Ministry also plans to provide subsidy for boosting domestic tourism
    3. Household and private consumption stimulus; and
    4. Small scale infrastructure development (water & irrigation, R&D for digital platform, transport & logistics)
  • Relevant ministries must propose development projects under these guidelines by June 15.  NESDC will screen the projects before proposing them to the cabinet, to be approved by 7 July.  The projects are to be implemented from July and completed within fiscal year 2021. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924128/nesdc-okays-guideline-for-b400bn-rehabilitation
  • Ministry of Finance had established a team to conduct site-visits nationwide in order to assess the conditions and needs of the general population affected by the pandemic outbreak.  Ministry of Finance is also offering training for upskilling unemployed workers and promote e-marketplace.  It is concurrently working with special financial institutions to launch financial and loan packages targeting a broader group of end-users.  Source:  http://www.mof.go.th

Tourism

  • Tourism and Sports Ministry will ask Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) this Friday about easing domestic tourism restrictions, starting from June.  Domestic tourism would start within the same region for the first two weeks, followed by inter-regional travel.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand also hopes that 70 percent of the tourism supply chain will join the Safety and Health Administration (SHA) certification standard within the first two years.  SHA project officially started on May 25, with online application opened since 18 May.  As of May 24, some 1,442 operators in 10 tourism-related businesses applied for SHA certification. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924176/tourism-and-sports-ministry-seeks-to-lift-domestic-lockdown
  • The National Shippers’ Council identified the recovery of 20 export items based on the scenario that there is no further Covid19 outbreaks and countries have lifted their lockdowns:
  • V-Shape recovery (fast recovery expected in Q2/Q3 of 2020 ): Consumer market food, electronics (mobile phone, computer, tablet); automotive parts; plastic products; and rubber products for medical equipment 
  • U-Shape recovery (moderate recovery expected after a vaccine is developed in Q4/2020 – Q1/2021): Frozen seafood supplied to hotels, restaurants and catering businesses; rice; sugar; electrical appliance; construction equipment; garment & apparel (for sports gears as sports tournaments resume); generic rubber products; and chemicals
  • L-Shape recovery (slow recovery starting from Q2/2020 as they are considered luxury items): automotive; rubber (for manufacturing tyres); jewelleries (excluding gold); plastic beads; petroleum and tapioca.  Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/434110
  • Federation of Thai Industries is conducting a feasibility study on shifting domestic auto-parts plants to manufacturing for the new S-curve industries, such as medical devices and aviation parts.  The move is in response to a drop in demand for automotive since the pandemic outbreak and will also help businesses and auto parts Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) survive.  The new S-Curve industries will most likely see a boost in attention under the government’s economic recovery plan.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924156/fti-mulls-repurposing-auto-parts-plants
  • Thai Airways had selected four new board members after entering rehabilitation program, including former Thai Airways President Piyasvasti Amranand, former Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, former CEO of TMB Bank Boontuck Wungcharoen and former CEO and President of PTT Pailin Chuchottaworn.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924052/thai-picks-new-board-members-piyasvasti-returns
  • Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhop will not apply for a second term after his five-year tenure expires on 30 September.  Application period for the next governor starts from 26 May until June 16.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1924216/veerathai-rules-out-central-bank-encore

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