Advance Blog

May 18, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 18th May 2020


Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Today, Thailand reports 3 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,031 cases. Out of the overall number, 2,857 have been discharged from the hospital; 118 are being hospitalised. The death toll is still at 56.
  • Yesterday was the first day that the CCSA eased its nation-wide restrictions to reopen department stores. A massive number of shoppers overcrowded with ‘new normal’ shopping restrictions.
    • The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) on May 16 extended a ban on inbound international flights until June 30.
    • CAAT also reversed its decision to reopen of Phuket International Airport. In an abrupt u-turn on May 16, the CAAT ordered the extension of the closure of Phuket International Airport until further notice.
    • Breaking: Massage business operators are at the Government House to submit a letter to the government, asking to ease the restrictions on their business. There was news earlier that foot massage will be allowed in the second set of restriction, but was not there in the announcement on Friday.
  • China asks Thai Ministry of Transport to close the high-speed train deal on 25 May. 80 percent of the construction cost for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route will be in USD. Minister of Transport expects to propose this deal to the cabinet for approval in October.—Prachachart Turakij, Manger
  • An African horse sickness (AHS) outbreak that emerged in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima recently, killing at least 433 horses, has now spread to neighbouring Saraburi province.—Bangkok Post


  • A source in the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) told media that the Energy Minister and the Secretary-General of the party Mr. Sondhirat is planning to use 10 million THB each to buy support from MPs in the party in the highly expected party’s executives reshuffle. The money is from Energy Conservation and Promotion Fund. The MPs under Deputy PM Prawit faction told the media that they have audio evidence.—PostToday
    • The Ministry spokesperson denied the allegation.
  • Government Spokesperson said PM Prayut does not have the intention of prolonging a nationwide state of emergency following fierce criticism that he intends to extend the emergency law for his own political gain.—all media outlet


Q1 Economic Results

  • NESDC revealed that Thailand’s GDP in Q1 of 2020 contracted by -1.8 percent compared to an increase of 1.5 in Q4 of 2019, marking a 2.2 percent quarter-on-quarter decline.  Agricultural sector saw a contraction of -5.7 percent due to the drought; export a drop of -6.7 percent and import a fall of- 2.5 percent.  Accommodation & food service activities dropped by -24 percent, with tourist arrivals declining by -38 percent to 6.69 million people.  The number of Chinese tourists declined by 60 percent.  Consequently, international tourism receipts contracted by 39 percent.
  • Thai economy in 2020 is expected to contract within the range of -5 or -6 percent.  Export value will see an -8 percent decline, private consumption -1.7 percent and investment -2.1 percent.  Current account is expected to see a surplus of 4.9 percent of GDP. Source:


  • Finance Ministry estimates it will spend 350 billion Baht for cash handout to 15 million self-employed informal workers and 10 farming households.  It is too early to assess whether the cash-handout will end in June or be extended for another three months.
  • Overall, the government has provided assistance to 35-36 million people, comprising 10-11 million who are covered by Social Security Fund, 15 million informal workers and 10 million farming households.
    • Of the total 1 trillion Baht to be borrowed:400 billion Baht is for economic and social rehabilitation projects
    • 45 billion Baht is for healthcare related projects
    • 550 billion Baht is for financial aid for workers and farmers.  Some 350 billion Baht is allocated for cash giveaway to informal workers and farmers.  The remaining 200 billion Baht will be used to finance a fund to help small entrepreneurs access loans as well as to care for vulnerable group.
  • Source:


  • Aviation business in Thailand this year is forecast to see a sharp fall in passenger demand by 52 percent YoY, with 2.1 million jobs in aviation and tourism industry at risk.    The International Air Transport Association said that in the worst-case-scenario, Thailand will face a 31 percent drop in arrivals from the original forecast of 41.9 million, and will recover late in the second quarter of 2022.  Chinese arrivals will recover only in 2021.  Overall, the aviation industry will face downsizing of 20-30 percent and recovery in international tourism will be slow. Source:
  • The outcome for Thai Airways will be unveiled at the end of May.  The State Enterprise Policy Committee has submitted the restructuring proposal, which would be forwarded to Transport Ministry for approval first before it goes to the cabinet. 
  • In its first phase, Thai Airways plans to seek 54 billion baht in short-term loan as working capital.  In its second phase, it will seek capital increase of 80 billion Baht, downsize its employees, discharge 22 airplanes by 2024 and possibly reduce Finance Ministry’s shareholding portion from 51 percent to 49 percent.  It will also undergo an organizational overhaul by being converted into a holding company and separating different business segments into subsidiaries under the holding company’s umbrella.  Critics are saying if taxpayers’ money worth 100 billion Baht should be used to fund a state-owned enterprise saddled with long history of corruption and nepotism.
  • Other suggestions include Thai Airways entering into a rehabilitation plan by filing for bankruptcy, or nationalizing or privatizing the airline.  Source:

Supply Chain

  • A shift in the supply chain of the automotive industry will be evident following the Covid19 outbreak, with companies eyeing relocating their production plants to Vietnam and Thailand due to their capabilities in containing the outbreak.  Carmakers will move away from investing in China due to the fallout from the US-China trade war combined with Covid19 outbreak.   Companies are likely to either re-shore or increase their capacities in existing manufacturing bases, such as in ASEAN, particularly Thailand and Vietnam that have excelled in containing the pandemic outbreak.
  • In the future, Thailand is expected to welcome foreign investments in manufacturing plants that supply EV vehicles parts.  Carmakers are also likely to open more manufacturing plants in Thailand to shorten the supply chain and reduce reliance on import.  Thailand should also market its capability in containing the pandemic to lure foreign investments, in addition to providing attractive investment incentives and infrastructure.  Source:


  • Investment applications for 10 special economic zones (SEZs) remain low compared with those made into the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).  Investments in SEZ totaled 11 billion in value through 75 projects from year 2015 to 2020.  Investment applications in the EEC in Q1 of 2020 came from 117 projects (an increase of 116 projects from the same period last year) worth 47.6 billion Baht (declining from 75.1 billion YoY).  Source:
  • GSP benefit cuts by the United States for six categories of rice products would only slightly affect Thailand’s export , following on from the report that the USTR is reviewing petitions involving the removal of six rice products. Source:


  • Chinese HOM to Israel was found dead at his residence in Tel Aviv. Israeli police spokesperson said it is natural cause of death.—all media outlet


  • Media reported on the US and Australian Ambassadors to Thailand who praised Thai government’s performance in dealing with COVID-19.—Than Settakij
The Australian Embassy Bangkok

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