Advance Blog

May 12, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 12th May 2020

News

  • Today, Thailand reports 2 newly confirmed cases, making a total number at 3,017. Out of the total cases, 2798 are discharged from hospital, 163 are being hospitalized. The death toll is still at 56.
  • Thailand began the year with a ban on single-use plastic bags, but with COVID-related restrictions, Bangkok’s plastic waste has soared 62% in volume in April, as more people opt for food and goods to be delivered to homes. Thailand is among the world’s top five choking the oceans with plastic.—Reuters
  • Villages and urban communities in Thailand have turned to helping neighbours left jobless due to the coronavirus lockdown by creating dozens of local food banks “Pantry of sharing” comprising instant noodles, canned food, rice grains and soap bars.
    • A politician from pro-government and conservative party said this pantry of sharing is a quintessential symbol of Thai. It is a sign of generosity in Thai society. He criticised those evil who adopt Western way of thinking and undermining Thainess.–Matichon

Politics

  • Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s move to order the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) to conduct a questionnaire to gauge public opinions on whether the state of emergency should be maintained or revoke has drawn criticisms from opposition Pheu Thai party and even from the coalition Democrat Party.—all media outlet
  • The mysterious laser projection at venues, including the Ministry of Defense and CBD where there was crackdown on red-shirt protestors in 2010 has gotten media attention:
    • The spokesperson of the Defense Ministry said the laser projection is not appropriate and the Ministry is seeking a legal action against the people who did it. The spokesperson said the projection ‘finding the truth’ might create misinformation and could stir political conflict. Meanwhile, the police has ordered its unit to ‘hunt down’ the people who did the projection.—all media outlet
    • The Move Forward Movement, the political movement of the now defunct Future Forward Party claimed responsibility of the projection by posting ‘behind the scene’ clip on their FB Page and invite people to join them in a new political campaign 12-23 May.

Business:

Announcement from Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA),  11 May

Speaker: Boonyarit Kalayanamit, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce

Border Trade

Significant progress was made in the opening of the borders of several countries to facilitate the trade of fruits, particularly to China where demand is high.

  • Laos – starting from 3 May, Thai drivers can drive truckload of fruits to the Laos border, after which Laotian drivers will take over and drive the trucks through Laos to Yunnan, China.  This shortens the delivery time as the Thai drivers will not need to self-quarantine upon arriving in Laos.
  • China – it has opened two border entry points located in Vietnam; Dongxing and Pingxiang Railway Station since the end of April.  Pinxiang entry point is particularly unique in that Thai trucks can unload their fruits onto the train at the Pinxiang railway, which will transport the fruits via rail into China.
  • Malaysia – following the pandemic outbreak, Malaysia only allowed rubber to be traded through the border entry point of Pedang Besar for manufacturing into gloves.  Prior to the outbreak, fruits and rubber trees were the main commodities traded through this border.  Since 7 May, Malaysia has allowed for Thailand to resume the trading of fruits, rubber tree and essential goods through Padang Besar. 

Fruit oversupply

  • To alleviate the current oversupply, airports and gas stations have allocated spaces to sell local fruits.  Commerce Ministry is also collaborating with Thai Post and major e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada to sell fruits through online channels.
  • Commerce Ministry is facilitating the bartering of agricultural products from fruits and processed food to seafood across various provinces, generating trade value worth 900 million Baht.  This is a unique practice achieved with the cooperation between Provincial Commerce Office and a network of entrepreneurs from the private sector.

Others

  • Cash-handout to farmers is confirmed from May – July. 
  • Income pledging scheme to help farmers for key agricultural products, such as palm oil and rice, is ongoing
  • Debt moratorium for farmers who borrowed from Farmers’ Reconstruction and Development Fund, worth 900 million Baht, starting from May 7
  • There is no shortage of domestic goods.  The current situation is different from the 2011 flooding, when factories had to shut down
  • The overpricing of powdered milk is dismissed as a rumour

Tourism

  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry is considering charging a levy of 300 baht or less per foreign tourist arrival once travels resume by air, land and sea. The ministry aims for it to be enforced in Q4, but has yet to submit it for cabinet’s approval.
  • The scheme is part of the 20-year national strategic plan that requires government agencies to have recurring income.  This idea was initiated last year, with the amendment of the National Tourism Policy Act at the end of 2019 allowing the ministry to tax foreign tourists. However, it was delayed because of the pandemic.
  • The tax will be added to the tourism fund managed by the ministry to rebuild and develop tourism supply chains, as well as offer safety and security protection for tourists.
  • Foreign tourist arrival number is expected to drop by almost two-thirds to 14 million this year, the lowest level in 14 years.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand hopes foreign tourists would return in October, with domestic tourism picking up in June or July. TAT is preparing a rehabilitation plan for the tourism sector, to be completed in June. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1916332/tourism-levy-mulled

Aviation

  • The Ministry of Transport is not ready to submit Thai Airway’s business rehabilitation plan for the cabinet’s consideration today.  However, it is not known if the Ministry of Finance will submit their plan to the cabinet.

Source:  http://www.thansettakij.com/content/business/433863

Thai Capital Market

  • Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations (Fetco) projects that the Thai economy will contract by 6-7 percent this year, with the government expected to continue stimulus policies into next year.  Nonetheless, capital markets investors have a more positive view of the economy from May to July, believing tourism would recover and government policies would be effective. This is reflected through the rise in April’s Investor Confidence Index.

Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1916376/fetco-uncertain-of-impact-from-pandemic

ASEAN/World

  • Thai Deputy Commerce Minister said the trade ministers in APEC released a joint statement in response to COVID-19 crisis—Neaw Na, Siam Rath, Manager
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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