Advance Blog

February 1, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 1 February 2021

News

·  Updates related to COVID-19:

Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases from clusters
83619,6186312,514 (at 63.79%)15,381
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
832 [ 39 (get tested in hospital) + 793 (active case finding)] 4 (in SQ) 7,027766 [756 reported by BMA yesterday +  10 by CCSA today]77 (+0)10,077
  • CCSA deputy spokesperson said that the tendency of the new round of infection is getting better. Should the trend is moving towards the better, there will be a new round of lockdown easing.
  • On the weekend, the Bangkok Governor signed a new order easing the pandemic restrictions.
    • The dining hours has been extended from until 9.00 pm to until 11.00 pm
    • Alcoholic beverages are not yet allowed when dining in.
    • For meetings and seminars, the maximum participant should be no more than 100 people. Alcoholic beverages and music performances with dancing are not allowed.
    • Educational Institutions should organise classes on alternate (on-site and on-air) basis.

Politics

  • Yesterday, the Criminal Court ruled that the FB live clip by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the former leader of the defunct Future Forward Party could breach national security and must be removed from the internet. The criminal court and the Ministry of Digital Economy for Society will prosecute Thanathorn for violating royal defamation law in due course. In the clip, the opposition leader accused the government for preferential treatment of King-owned Siam Bioscience to produce vaccine for local usage. The company received a 600 million baht ($20 million) subsidy to develop capacity to manufacture AstraZeneca vaccines domestically and across Southeast Asia.–Reuters
  • After the confirmed putsch in Myanmar and the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, Thai media are reporting on the relationship between the coup-maker General Min Aung Hlaing and late Privy Councillor General Prem. The former respects the latter as “step-father”.–Prachachat
    • WeVo group is calling for a gathering in front of Myanmar Embassy on Sathon Road from 3.30 pm.

Australia

  • Panitan Wattanayakorn, chairman of the PM’s Security Advisor Committee, gave an interview with ThaiPBS on the new Biden administration and its implication on Thai politics. The security pundit mentioned that the Australian prisoner transfer deal with Iran is overseen by the US. Dr Panitarn said the deal could not be done without the American-Thai close ties.(9.00 min onwards)–ThaiPBS

Economic:

CPTPP

  • The CPTPP Parliament Committee has officially submitted the results of its studies regarding Thailand’s accession to CPTPP to the cabinet on 26 January.  The cabinet had subsequently assigned the International Economic Policy Committee to consider the Parliament Committee’s recommendations and provide assessment on Thailand’s terms and readiness to negotiate for CPTPP accession within 90 days.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 1 February 2021

Ease of Doing Business

  • To improve Thailand’s ease of doing business, Commerce Ministry with the Board of Investment (BOI) and Digital Government Agency unveiled the e-Foreign Certificate system.  It enables foreign investors to submit BOI investment application and other business-related documents through an e-system, for which the certificate will be issued digitally within 5 days instead of 30 days.   The system also accommodates e-payment as well as digital signature.  Sources:  Siam Rath Thansettakij

Other

  • In December 2020, export resumed growth (+4.6 percent YoY) for the first time in 10 months, fuelled by higher demand from global electronics cycle, revealed the Bank of Thailand (BOT).  The December 2020 import dropped by 0.1 percent YoY, thus imparting a smaller current account deficit of USD 693 million and trade surplus of USD 2.8 billion.  Overall economic activities in Q4 of 2020 may have improved, but recovery remained uneven.  Despite the expansion of export, private investment and private consumption, tourism continued to contract.  Source:  Bank of Thailand press release Bangkok Post
  • Finance Ministry expects it will not need to borrow beyond 1 trillion Baht to combat the current COVID-19 outbreak, thereby Thailand’s debt to GDP ratio will be kept below 60 percent as articulated in its 4-year fiscal projection (Year 2022-2025).  The debt to GDP ratio would exceed 60 percent if there is a third wave of outbreak, but Finance Ministry affirms that the breach of 60 percent ceiling will not affect fiscal stability due to Thailand’s robust fundamentals.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Excise tax structure for Electric Vehicles (EV) will be finalised this year in a move to establish Thailand as a regional EV manufacturing base.  Excise Department must devise a tax policy to create  product champion that promtoes clean energy technology to support EV use, such as the body and batteries of EVs.  Widespread use of EV is not anticipated in Thailand for at least 10 years.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Thai Chamber of Commerce and Thai Hotels Association discussed with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports about a proposal for hotel quarantine, to be launched in March.  Tourism Ministry also expects Thailand to receive only 5 million international arrivals in 2021; half the original forecast of 10 million as the pandemic ravages the tourism industry worldwide.   Tourism Ministry also urged the government to allocate 5 million doses of vaccine for tourism workers in the early stage of the inoculation program.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand said COVID-19 vaccine will be a game-changer for the tourism industry.  Meanwhile, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) called for the government to draw up clear policies and entry rules for inoculated travelers by Q3 this year, as well as to establish the vaccine passport framework within Southeast Asian nation.  ATTA contended that the 14-day quarantine requirement is preventing the number of tourist arrivals from reaching its goal of 10 million, while also asking the government to establish the first stage of travel bubbles by mid-year.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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