Advance Blog

May 15, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 15th May 2020

News:

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 7 newly confirmed cases (all in state quarantine after travelling back from Pakistan), a total of 3,025 cases. Out of the total number, 2,854 have been discharged from the hospital, 115 are being hospitalized. The death toll is still at 56.
    • Today, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) will decide whether to ease COVID related restrictions later today. It is expected that the curfew hours will be pushed back for one more hours, from 11pm to 4am.—all media outlet
    • CCSA said the “Thai Chana” (Thai Victory) tracing application to track people infected with COVID-19 will be introduced to all business operators that will resume business on May 17 in the 2nd Phase easing of the lockdown restrictions. With the online tracing system, customers can be tracked and text messages will be sent to them in case they need to be tested, if a customer visiting the same venue has tested positive for COVID-19. The Digital Economy will hold a launching ceremony today.

Politics:

  • The rift in the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) is still unsettling. The Finance Minister and the Party leader Uttama said he has not resigned from the party position as some media has reported earlier. He still clings to the PM advice to put administration above all politics. Other executives who reportedly resigned earlier declined the rumours.—all media outlet
    • Siam Rath ponders that this latest series of news is from the Somkid’s clique, considering they have no real MPs to support the next cabinet reshuffle. (see attached)
  • Metropolitan Police has prepared to secure politically significant sites in Bangkok by setting up checkpoints and asked for coordination from people in the area to prevent light projection on the buildings. The Progressive Movement, the political movement successor of the now defunct Future Forward Party, is mobilising its political campaign by projecting “#FindingtheTruth” laser on venues where there were deadly crackdowns of the red-shirt protestors 10 years ago.—Krungthep Turakij

Business:

Tourism

  • The massive blow to the tourism industry caused by the pandemic may offer an opportunity for hotel investors to buy properties, but currently Chiang Mai and Phuket have yet to witness that phenomenon.  Tourism is expected to resume at only 30-40 percent of normal capacity in October.  This may trigger some hotels to sell their properties. The tourism rebound may also prompt hotel investors to acquire existing hotels.
  • Hotel trading in Thailand peaked from 2017-2018 and exceeded 20 billion Baht, but last year only four hotels worth 5 billion baht were sold.  Colliers International Thailand cited that a shortage of properties attractive for investment as the reason.
  • Earlier this year, the pandemic caused hotel occupancy rate to dip to 51.5 percent in Q1, falling to 20.8 percent in March.  The impact from the pandemic on hospitality will worsen until June, with hotel operators to lose more than 50 percent of bookings and revenue in the first half of 2020. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1918440/tourism-hotspots-await-hotel-investors
  • Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) said it is hard to predict when the tourism will recover due to Thailand’s reliance on arrivals from China.  The EEC zone will be hard hit because it fully relies on foreign tourists.  The pandemic is expected to end by the start of 2021 and travel should resume fully once the vaccine is found.  The tourism sector in Chonburi should return to normal by Q2 of next year.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/business/30387799

Stimulus Package

  • Finance Ministry will offer assistance to business operators that retain their workers on the payroll.  Aid measures are expected to be submitted to the cabinet for approval next Tuesday. 
  • DPM Somkid announced that a fund, worth no more than 100 billion Baht, will be established to help small entrepreneurs that cannot access financial institution loans.
  • Each state agency is asked to propose projects to a screening committee using the 400-billion-Baht budget to pursue economic rehabilitation projects.  The focus will be on sufficiency economy and job creation upcountry.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1918436/somkid-aid-for-keeping-employees-on-payroll-coming
  • The government’s special savings bonds, valued at 50 billion Baht, was made available to those aged over 60 years old for the first day yesterday.  Already some 25 billion Baht worth of bonds were sold, with 60 percent of the buyers purchasing the 5-year bond for an average value of 1 million Baht per bond.  Source:  https://wwww.thansettakij.com/content/money_market/434337
  • Finance Ministry reported that 14.5 million applicants are approved to receive the 5,000 Baht cash-handout, of which Finance Ministry will pay 14.2 million recipients within this week.  The remaining 300,000 recipients will be paid next week. 
  • The appeal at the Department of Public Relations closes today, but appeals could still be made at various branches of Government Savings Bank and Krungthai Bank from 18 – 29 May.    Source:  http://www.mof.go.th

Agriculture

  • Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) expects its best performance this year, driven by high demand for pork as there is supply shortage due to the African swine fever outbreak in several countries.  It hardly feels any impact from the pandemic, thanks to diversified overseas investments. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1918324/cpf-cashes-in-on-swine-fever-chickens
  • The first shipment by train of Thai Durians (18 tonnes) and mangosteens (64 tonnes) worth 6 million Baht is due to arrive in China today.  The produce was transported from Thailand to Vietnam, which was then sent on via train to the newly-opened Dongxing border in Guangxi, southern China.  Up to 70 container loads of Thai fruit were being transported to China by train four times a day from Vietnam.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1918416/durians-call-on-china

Others

  • Thailand is ranked as the number 1 best country to start a business by US News & World Report from 73 countries worldwide.  This will boost the confidence of foreign investors into Thailand in the post-Covid19 era.  Source:  Thai Government fb page, 14 May  https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/best-start-a-business
  • Thai Airways may not be able to pay its staff this month due to liquidity issue.  It has two options: to pursue a rehabilitation plan where the Finance Ministry guarantees a 50-billion Baht bailout loan or enter a bankruptcy court-dictated rehabilitation.  The Ministry of Finance is mulling over the rehabilitation plans for both options.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1918240/bankruptcy-an-option-for-debt-stricken-thai-says-uttama
  • Thailand’s GDP will improve from Q3 onwards, boosted by the 1-trillion Baht relief plan and also relying on the effectiveness of the 400-billion Baht economic rehabilitation plan, said Kobsak Pootrakool, Deputy Secretary-General to the PM.  Economic management for the rest of the year is challenging, given that tourism is unlikely to recover and global trade remaining tepid.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1918420/q3-rebound-eyed-from-relief-boost
  • The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) reported that Ford and Mazda are planning to lay off workers.  Mitsubishi had already launched a voluntary redundancy campaign, while Nissan will not extend the contracts of 300 workers out of 1,900.  The automotive and auto parts industries employ about 750,000 workers. 
  • Car Sales in April is likely to be the lowest level in 10 years, totalling 33,000 units.  Car sales volume this year is expected to fall by 50 percent YoY.
  • The FTI will propose to the government a car trade-in scheme to boost domestic car demand. Under proposed scheme, the government will encourage motorists to purchase new, eco-friendly vehicles and turn in cars over 20 years old.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1918332/fti-floats-trade-in-scheme-for-cars

ASEAN/World:

  • South Korean Ambassador discussed with Deputy PM Somkid yesterday. South Korean Ambassador has asked Thailand to remove the country from communicable disease country category. The removal would ease travel restriction measures for Korean businesses to come operate and invest in Thailand.—Thai Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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