Advance Blog

April 21, 2020
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Headline summary as of 20th April 2020

News

  • Last evening, a military police volunteer raided into the house of his father-in-law with guns in Samut Prakarn province. Soon after, the police can take control of the situation. 
  • Updates related to COVID-19:
  • Thailand on Sunday reported 32 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 2,765. No new fatalities were reported yesterday. Thailand has had 47 deaths from the coronavirus.
  • On a national televised on Friday, PM Prayut says he will appeal directly to the country’s 20 wealthiest people for assistance in overcoming the coronavirus crisis. The PM has asked the economic tycoons to join “Team Thailand” in tackling the effects of COVID-19. 
  • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will decide later this month whether to ease any of the economic restrictions in light of the decline in new coronavirus cases.
  • On Sunday morning, media started to report on Central Department Stores, one of the biggest retail store conglomerates in Thailand, sent a letter informing its trading partner to prepare of the ‘expected’ reopening of stores on 1 May. Later in the day, it got a lot of backlashes by pro-government media online outlets. In the afternoon, Central sent another letter to media clarifying that the expected re-opening date was just its speculation, the resume of business could only be done by the government’s order. 

Politics

  • After the national televised on Friday, asking for assistance from the top 20 billionaires in Thailand, the government was criticised with a top trending on Twitter #รัฐบาลขอทาน or “Beggar Government” over the weekend. Some made an observation that this might solidify the patronising alliance between the government and big conglomerates, similar to Korean chaebol. Deputy PM Wissanu responded by saying that he looked into the open letter the PM will send and could affirm that the government does not ask for money.–All media outlet
  • The main opposition Pheu Thai Party has asked the PM to televise the conversation he is going to have with the billionaires, for fear that it would mean preferential treatments by the government.–Kom Chad Leuk

Business

Fiscal Stimulus Package

  • The measure allowing the government to borrow 1 trillion Baht to mitigate the impact of Covid19 was published in The Royal Gazette on 19 April with immediate effect.  Source: National News Bureau of Thailand’s FB page
  • People whose applications for the 5,000 Baht cash-handout are rejected can launch their appeals online from 6:00 am today.
  • The government will disburse 50 billion Baht from the Finance Ministry’s “reserve money” to cover the second month of the 5,000-Baht cash-handout.  The third payment is likely to be funded from a central pool drawn from budget cuts from various ministries – to be tabled for cabinet’s approval tomorrow.
  •  PM Prayut’s invitation to the 20 wealthiest people in Thailand to join his ‘Team Thailand’ initiative is to brainstorm for ideas to address economic fallout, not to seek monetary donations. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1903025/govt-calls-on-reserve-cash-to-cover-aid-payouts?fbclid=IwAR3jOF5yyYwFRG7wtD5AvaBuQdBWVTTdIl1utFzeApAbL69kMp_rhWt_51Q
  •  Tourism Authority of Thailand forecasts that Thailand will receive 16 million international tourists and 60 million domestic trips this year, falling short of TAT’s targets of 40 million and 172 million, respectively.  Total revenue from domestic and international receipts is set to drop by 62.8% to 1.12 trillion Baht from 3.01 trillion Baht last year.  TAT has established eight task forces with the private sector to provide immediate solutions to help operators. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1902275#cxrecs_s
  •  Board of Investment expects investment applications this year to fall below last year’s 756 billion Baht and has not set its annual investment application target for 2020 yet.  BOI’s investment applications in 2019 stood at 756 billion Baht from 1,624 projects.  This value was 7% lower than for 2018 applications. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1903180/slowdown-dents-investment


Supply Chain

  • Although Thailand will not experience food shortage, logistics restrictions in other countries will dent its agricultural export growth to only 5 percent.  The export of Thai rice could benefit from a surge in global demand, while the government is urged to come up with active fruit management policy as fruits are facing supply chain disruption. Source: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1903175/kitchen-of-the-world-takes-stock
  • The drought is expected to lower the harvests of many crops, among them rice, tapioca and fruits.  Tapioca is expected to see the lowest harvest in 15 years of 19.50 million tonnes from last year’s 28 million tonnes.  Pineapple will see a 30-40 percent fall in output from May – September, which will affect its export supply.  Corn will also see a 30-50 percent decline.  Some 24 provinces have been declared emergency zones due to the drought. Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/430133
  • Siam City Cement is closing its factory in Saraburi province from 1 May onwards as demand for cement dwindles during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30386124
  • The air conditioner manufacturer, Mitsubishi Electric Consumer Product (Thailand), has laid off 1,000 contract workers from the total of 2,600 in Chonburi province.  Its 2,500 full-time workers are unaffected.  The job redundancy results from the pandemic affecting Mitsubishi’s customer base in 142 countries, particularly in Europe, which caused its export to drop from 80 percent to 30 percent.  With China’s lockdown limiting its raw material import, Mitsibushi’s production ability is restricted by 50 percent and the effect is expected to last until September. Source:  https://www.thansettakij.com/content/Macro_econ/430345

ASEAN/World

  • The Diplomat published the article “‘In Milk Tea We Trust’: How a Thai-Chinese Meme War Led to a New (Online) Pan-Asia AllianceFrom #MilkTeaAlliance to #StopMekongDam, can an internet meme war translate into real-world action?”, another article related to the online spat between Thai and Chinese netizens over the status of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Australia

  • Australia and the US share critical views on China and COVID-19. The report quoted Foreign Minister Payne’s media interview with ABC on 19 April expressing her concern on Chinese transparency. She said Australia insists that there should be an independent probe into COVID-19. The Health Minister also shares a similar view, questioning the Chinese-prone WHO.–Krungthep Turakij, Post Today
  • More than 150 Australian economists warned the government against easing social distancing rules even as the rate of infections slowed to a multi-week low.–ThaiPBS World.
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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