Advance Blog

May 19, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 19th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 2 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,033 cases. Out of the total number, 2,857 have been discharged from hospital; 120 are being hospitalised. The death toll is still at 56. The two cases were visiting their relatives (confirmed) in a hospital in Southern Thailand.
    • Online and national televised education began yesterday with a lot of dramas, ranging from the server capacity to the problematic quality of education.—all media outlet
  • A twitter trending “#BanKrispyKreme” is on top trending in Thai twitter as the company fired its intern staff for questioning on Facebook whether the late King Rama IX actually composed all the song by himself or plagiarised other artists.

Politics

  • Today marks ten years of the bloody military crackdown of red-shirt protestors in 2010.
  • Wat Pathum Wanaram temple where there was six people shot dead, despite being declared “no fire zone”, announced that it will close down for disinfecting today. Protestors and a mother of volunteer nurse inside the temple who was shot dead by a sniper are scheduled to hold a commemorative service.
    • Progressive Movement, the political movement succeeding the now defunct Future Forward Party, will hold an online seminar to commemorate the crackdown.
  • Media reported that joining the CPTPP will be on the weekly cabinet agenda today, despite the Ministry of Commerce earlier withdrawal from the agenda after facing oppositions. 
    • ‘FTA Watch’ and ‘Bio Thai’, local NGOs which have been monitoring the Thai joining of CPTPP, said they are planning to do an online protest all day.
    • Deputy Economic PM Somkid handed a sick leave for the weekly cabinet meeting, saying that the CPTPP matters is under the Democrat Party Ministry of Commerce’s authority.—Krunghtep Turakij
    • Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Jurin said he denied the ministry involvement in all this. He said whether Thailand will join the trade pact; or not is for the PM to decide.
  • Media reported that big names in the main opposition and largest party in the House, Pheu Thai Party are planning to establish a new political party, since the internal fractures in the party is at a point of no-return.–Prachachart
  • Last night, there was an anonymous laser projection “#StopChanaIndustrialPark”, “#ReconsiderTheProject” on the headquarter building of Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre in the Southern province of Yala. SBPAC is looking into the case whether the projection is conducted during the curfew hours; or is the photos were just photoshopped. Some expect that this might be a resistance campaign against the SBPAC’s industrialization of Chana District.—The Reporter

Business:

 Tourism

  • Tourism Authority of Thailand estimates international tourists will return in October.   It revised this year’s arrivals to 14-16 million and domestic trips to 100 million.  Total revenue is projected at 1.23 trillion Baht.
  • TAT will target high spending tourists within the region to visit under a quota.  It will also launch the International Tourists Bridge project to attract high-end European tourists without subjecting them to the 14-day quarantine.
  • Tourism and Sports Minister expects it will submit to the cabinet its proposal for a tourism rehabilitation plan next week.  The plan will spend 10-20 billion Baht from the 400 billion Baht budget set aside for economic rehabilitation projects. 
  • In the post-Covid19 era, Thai tourism will be rebranded into ‘Amazing Trusted Thailand’, positioning itself as a country that can guarantee health and safety standards for tourists and locals alike.  Its target group is high spending tourists. 
  • When Thailand exits the lockdown at the end of this month, TAT plans to match tourists from countries that were removed from the government’s ‘Disease Infected Zones for Covid19’ list with provinces that are infection-free for 28 days or more.  Islands such as Phuket or Samui may be the first to be opened to international arrivals due to their geographical advantage that allows the disease to be easily controlled. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1920336/tat-trusted-rebranding-curates-market

Others

  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) reported on the progress of its soft loan scheme (budget of 500 billion Baht) with 2 percent interest for 2 years, available from 23 April – 22 October 2020: 
  • BOT reiterated to financial institutions that they should not charge additional fees when making the soft loans to SMEs.  To date (18 May), some 49,308 million Baht worth of soft loan was made to 28,601 SMEs.  Of these SMEs, 72 percent are small businesses that make loans of 20 billion Baht or less.  BOT promoted for financial institutions to continue offering these loans as there is still plenty of budget left.
  • BOT also has other measures to assist small-scale debtors and SMEs with loan payment holiday for credit card, mortgage, leasing, personal loans, microfinance and nano-finance.  The assistance offered is valued at 4.6 million million Baht and have helped 13.08 million small-scale debtors and SMEs. 
  • BOT will proactively negotiate debt restructuring plans with financial institutions to fit with small scale debtor’s income.  Source:  BOT press conference, 18 May 2020
  • Thai exports of computers and components in the first quarter of 2020 rose to nearly USD$4 billion (Bt128 billion), placing it at the top among ASEAN nations, according to Department of Trade Negotiations.  Thailand is the second-biggest hard-disk drive exporter after China, where computer and component exports from January to April expanded by 14 per cent YoY, with hard-disk drives seeing the greatest expansion of 23 percent.   The increase is partly attributable to the free trade agreements Thailand has in place with 18 countries and it joining the Information Technology Agreement under the WTO that allows tariff-free exports of IT-related products to more than 50 member nations.  The investment value in computer and electronic manufacturing industries in Thailand is currently USD18.17 billion, with these industries having generated more than 300,000 jobs.  Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30388093?fbclid=IwAR1flg-sODUoiCcmCXVODngmDC8NraprfLBGUjYRP8yFKvpBxt60IxFZVaU
  • Bank of Thailand is expected to cut interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.5 percent when it meets tomorrow.  This follows on from NESDC’s report that Thailand’s GDP 2020 is expected to contract by 5 percent, with its Q1 GDP shrinking by 1.8 percent YoY – Thailand’s first contraction since early 2014.  Krungthai Bank said this is an indication that Thailand’s economy is entering a recession and forecasts a -8 percent GDP contraction for 2020.  On the contrary, Standard Chartered predicts a -5 percent contraction on the basis that the economy will start recovering in June. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1920432/nesdc-predicts-5-6-contraction
  • The non-performing loans (NPS) of commercial banks hit a 9-year high (497 billion Baht) at 3.05 percent of loans outstanding at the end of March, compared to 2.98 percent at the end of 2019.  Consumer bad loans (3.23 percent increase) have outpaced commercial NPLs (declined to 2.97 percent) for the first time in four years.  Stage 2 loan (loans with credit risk that increased significantly) increased to 7.7 percent from 2.79 percent at the end of 2019. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1920428/commercial-banks-npls-hit-9-year-high-at-end-of-march
  • New corporate bond issuance plunged by 41.9 percent (valued at 180 billion Baht) from January to April compared to the same period last year (valued at 310 billion Baht), according to KBank.  The size of new corporate bond issuance is expected to decline by 20 percent to 900 billion Baht this year from 1.08 trillion Baht last year.  There have been no negative signs for expected rollover bonds and no companies have requested use of the central bank’s Corporate Bond Stablization Fund.  Corporate bonds are also shifting to fundraising via private placement with institutional and high net worth investors.  Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1920348/corporate-bond-issuance-plunges
  • Gold prices reached a near 8-year high yesterday (US$1,760 per ounce) due to the US Federal Reserve chairman’s comment on the US’s slow economic recovery.  Prices of local gold bar and gold ornaments were 26,600 and 27,100 Baht respectively per one-Baht weight gold.  Long queues of began to form on the streets of Yaowarat as people began selling gold holdings om Friday and over the weekend.  An Oanda Corporation analyst noted that this might be the beginning of the inflation-hedge as opposed to safe haven trade. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1920344/gold-leaps-to-eight-year-high
  • PM Prayut and the State Enterprise Policy Committee agreed with the idea that Thai Airways should be rehabilitated under the bankruptcy law and for it to be considered by the cabinet today.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1920264/thai-edges-to-bankruptcy-court
  • Ministry of Labour has paid unemployment compensation from Social Security Fund to 984,005 people worth 5.3 billion Baht as of 18 May.  Applicants can make appeals and employers’ as well as employees can submit additional documents at Social Security Offices nationwide.  Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/normal_news/434931?fbclid=IwAR36ciPf1NohMNExQ0SJqTfrkCPfzV5q3-q0G6WDxLAlq64ui_KwHftsacI

ASEAN/World

  • In the WHO general assembly via video conference yesterday, Xi Jinping broke his silence by addressing how Chinese authority has been dealing with COVID-19 crisis and that China supports a comprehensive review of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. – all media outlet
  • PR News ‘Thailand and other ASEAN countries join China in the fight against the COVID-19’— Bangkok Post

Australia

  • Chiang Mai Police apprehended a 60-years-old Australian national for possessing more than 10 thousands pedophilia photos and video clips looking to distribute it via Twitter account and paid membership. The police found that he has done the similar thing in other country 2013. After relieved from jail term, he came to reside in Thailand, since then.—Daily News
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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