Advance Blog

June 11, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 11 June 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports no newly confirmed cases, a total of cases is at 3,121. Out of the total number,  2,987 have been discharged from the hospital; 80 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. This is the 17th day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
    • The Secretary-general of the Internal Security Council said in the inner circle meeting of the CCSA, the committee agreed that it will have 95% of businesses re-opened and he hinted the possibility of ending curfew hours. The decision will be made tomorrow and the fourth phase of restriction easing will be from 15 June.—all media outlet
    • Public Health Official said the government is drawing up guidelines to reopen its borders for business travellers and then, tourists from low-risk countries, though no timeline has been set.

Politics

  • Main ruling Palang Pracharat is not the only party with its intra-party rift, third largest ruling Democrat Party also shows signs of conflict. The party is now enlisting support of MPs to force more than half of the party executives (39 in total) to resign to pave the way for the election of new party leader and executive board. The Democrat Party has been facing internal conflicts since the last election with new executives nomination and some MPs left to join other parties.
  • There is also a report of Move Forward Party Bangkok MPs’ meeting with Pheu Thai Party chief strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan. The motive for the meeting is yet to be known.—all media outlet
  • A political scientist views the PPRP rifts, not as a prelude for the cabinet reshuffle, rather the change of party executive is to prepare the party for a snap election. The professor said that Finance Minister Uttama as the PPRP leader is not a feasible political choice for the next election as he could not fulfilled all the commitments he promised in the last election. As with the loan bills passed, the government could have resources to be spent in the election.–ThaiPBS
  • Foreign Minister Don  said Wanchalearm Satsaksit, the activist who disappeared from the streets of Phnom Penh last week, didn’t have political refugee status, so Thailand can only wait for Cambodia to finish its investigation. The top diplomat said the activist bears little significance in terms of international and security affairs, so he should not be considered a threat to security.—all media outlet

Business:

CPTPP

  • Members of parliament are planning to form a committee to study the impact of Thailand joining the CPTPP as they debated the issue at the parliamentary session yesterday.  The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) has officially come out to support the Thai government to take part in the CPTPP talks in August before deciding whether or not to join the trade pact.  JSCCIB reasons that the process of seeking membership will take at least four years and Thailand can withdraw at any stage if found unbeneficial.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932552/thailand-should-join-asia-pacific-trade-pact-talks-business-group

Others

  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) is preparing to propose to PM Prayut measures to screen business travellers in compliance with the government’s health guidelines.  Among the screening criteria to be discussed is the traveller’s origin country, which must report a low risk of new infections and may include China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932720/foreign-investors-eager-to-return
  • JSCCIB has maintained its forecast of a 3-5 percent contraction in Thailand’s GDP, while projecting that export will drop 5-10 percent.  The JSCCIB maintained that it will take a few years for the Thai economy to return to its normal growth trajectory.  The Thai Bankers’ Association (TBA) is therefore considering extending debt restructuring measures, which is already put in place by the Bank of Thailand since 1 April. 
  • TBA urges the government to support additional debt guarantees to support SMEs to gain easier access to BOT’s 500 billion Baht soft loan.  Banks have withdrawn 75 billion Baht of the BOT soft loan.  As of 1 June, 66.5 billion Baht worth of soft loan was given to 41,000 recipients.    Majority of the recipients are small-scale SMEs, totalling 30,693 MSMEs which accounts for 74.8 percent of approved soft loan recipients.  Source:  https://www.prachachat.net/finance/news-474358 https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932740/tba-mulls-debt-restructuring  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30389398
  • Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) is pressuring the government to ease international travel restrictions and to allow foreign business travellers to visit in July.  However, Tourism Minister said even if travel bubbles are created, Thailand is unlikely to welcome international tourists in July and the country cannot hope for an influx of visitors this year. In the first phase of bringing in international tourists, tourists will not require two weeks self-isolation, but have to stay in a restricted destination and allow state agencies to track their whereabouts through an application.
  • The number of international tourists from January to May dropped by 60 percent YoY year to 6.69 million and international tourism revenue figures plunged 59.6 percent to 332 billion baht.  During the first five months, domestic trips totalled 40.2 million, down 58.2 percent and revenue fell 57.9 percent to 191 billion baht.  Domestic tourism in May alone saw a slight increase as the second phase of the lockdown relaxation on May 17 prompted local travellers to make 570,000 trips, an improvement from 130,000 trips in April.  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932864/tct-wants-restrictions-massaged
  • The Finance Ministry plans giving an additional soft loan programme for land transport operators to keep the logistics workforce at 6 million. The plan was initiated after a representative from the Land Transport Federation of Thailand (LTFT) met with Finance Ministry authorities yesterday to submit a request for financial assistance.  The funding would come from the Government Savings Bank and the Bank of Thailand’s 500-billion-baht soft loan scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  In the next phase, the government will support enhancing competitiveness and digitising the logistics sector to increase access information and improve transport efficiency.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1932708/soft-loans-for-land-transport
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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