Advance Blog

May 25, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headline summary as of 25th May 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 2 newly confirmed cases, a total of 3,042 cases. Out of the total number, 2,928 have been discharged from the hospital; 57 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 57.
    • Media reports that in the 3rd phase of the COVID-19 restriction easing, CCSA eyes to allow boxing stadium, spas, cinemas, theme parks, zoos, cram schools, fitness centres, convention centres and holding hotel events. By 28th May, the CCSA will make the decision.–all media outlet
    • The National Security Council and the CCSA are examining the possibility of reducing the curfew hours from, currently, 23.00-04.00 to be either 23.00-05.00 or 24.00-04.00.–all media outlet
    • The Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC) has proposed to the Education Minister the re-opening of 216 international schools in Thailand. OPEC cited the continuity of studies for international students who could not wait until July (like other Thai schools) to resume their studies.–all media outlet
    • The chief of National Vaccine Institute said that the Thai-made vaccine will be ready by the end of 2021, providing there is no mistake in the testing process.–all media outlet

Politics

  • One of the key members of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party, Chaturon Chaisang, came out to admit that he is planning to set up a new party, with help from former party members.  Earlier, media reports that this movement is due to the intra-party conflict of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party.–all media outlet
  • The opposition has prepared 50 MPs to grill the government over three executive decrees backing loans of 1.97 trillion baht to pay for Covid-19 relief. It is set that the debate will be on for 5 days, starting from May 27th.–all media outlet

Business:

CPTPP & RCEP

  • Dr Rawee Machamadon, head of New Palangdharma Party said he will on 27 May submit an urgent motion for the parliament to establish a special committee to study the impacts of Thailand joining the CPTPP.  The CPTPP could put Thailand at a disadvantage, especially with the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism whereby foreign investors could sue the Thai government.  Another concern is that Thailand would have to join the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) that would allow foreigners to register a patent after genetically-modifying the seeds from Thailand.  He urged the cabinet to postpone making a decision on CPTPP until the parliament has launched a special committee to comprehensively study this matter in the best interest of the nation.  Source:  https://www.thaipost.net/main/detail/66749
  • Ronnarong Phoolpipat, Commerce Ministry Chief Inspector-General and chief negotiator of RCEP for Thailand, said recent RCEP trade negotiations and meetings via video conference were “surprisingly efficient and helpful.  We [trade negotiators] have completed many negotiation issues during the past two months. It is faster and saves on time and costs. Covid-19 brings a new normal to trade negotiations.”  India has been reluctant to ratify RCEP but members will continue to find solutions with the hope the nation will return to the negotiation table.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1923516/virus-poses-no-barrier-to-rcep-negotiations

Supply Chain

  • Ministry of Commerce’s Department of International Trade Promotion disclosed that Japan is looking to move its supply chain from China to ASEAN.  The Japanese government’s 23.5-billion-Yen ‘China Plus One’ policy was conceived to reduce Japan’s reliance on China and diversify its supply chain in the wake of the pandemic outbreak.
  • Since then some ASEAN nations, for example, Myanmar has witnessed a notable rise in foreign direct investment.  However, the real shift in company relocation will take time, especially because Japanese firms are cautious and plan for the long term.
  • As such, Rojana Industrial Park expects to benefit from an influx of Japanese FDI in the second half of the year.  Japanese clients occupy 70 per cent of its estates and it also developed several industrial estates in the EEC in preparation for investors.
  • Thailand’s WHA Corporation urges the government to launch special investment packages in digital health technology, ie: tela-medicine.  If successful, Thailand could enjoy a first-mover advantage over its ASEAN peers. 
  • Pinthong Industrial Park said Japanese investors confirmed they have set sight on relocating to Vietnam and Thailand when the pandemic eases.  It advised the Thai government to incentivise Japanese investments by offering investors ‘green cards’.  It also noted that drought could be an impediment to garnering FDI into the EEC, which remains Thailand’s investment epicentre.  Source:  https://www.prachachat.net/economy/news-467500   https://www.prachachat.net/economy/news-467723
  • Ministry of Industry said Thailand will be a prime location for new investment in healthcare and tourism sectors.  In fact, the South Korean government have expressed interest for their businesses to expand into Thailand.
  • Federation of Thai Industries noted that global supply chains were already on shaky ground due to the US-China Trade War.  Thailand must now compete with Vietnam to seize investment opportunities from company relocation and promote the EEC and S-Curve industries. 
  • An emerging trend is that electronics parts buyer from the US and Europe are seeking to diversify their purchases from companies in ASEAN to serve their businesses for automotive, home components and digital segments.  They are willing to bear the higher costs since their supply chains of electronics parts and downstream businesses were disrupted when China went into lockdown.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1923796/global-supply-chain-renovation

Others

  • Ministry of Finance has made preparations for securing 150 billion Baht if additional funds for economic and social restoration are needed.  Of the 150 billion Baht, 40 billion Baht will be allocated from the 2021 annual budget (to go before the cabinet on May 26), 60 billion Baht will be from the central budget and 50 billion Baht from reallocating unused 2020 budget. Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1923668/b150bn-from-future-budgets-may-be-used
  • DPM Somkid foresees that agriculture, tourism and state spending will be instrumental to rebooting the economy and Q3 and Q4.  Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives is helping Village Fund conduct a master plan on community development.   DPM Somkid also expects domestic tourism to resume in provinces with no infection cases by Q3.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1923652/somkid-readies-h1-restart

ASEAN/World

  • Hong Kong protestors hit the street again after the mainland government is set to introduce a new security law. Protestors concern that the law will be enforced in Hong Kong, undermining the one country two systems principle. Hong Kong authority said that they concern about the rising terrorist activities in Hong Kong in the near future.–all media outlet.
  • Myanmar’s government submitted, this weekend, an official report to the International Court of Justice detailing how the country will prevent future acts of genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority–Thai Enquirer
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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