Advance Blog

March 22, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 22 March 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
7327,8766626,663 (at 95.65%)23,639
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
64 [22 (get tested in hospital) + 44 (active case finding)] 7 (in SQ) 7681,497 (+21: 13 from active case finding)91 (+1 a 60-year-old Thai male with final stage lung cancer)15,492
  • As of Saturday 20 March, CCSA announced that Thai Health Authority has inoculated 69,927 people, almost half of which are health officials.
  • Thai Health Authority has notified the public of the new cluster in construction site in Bangkok’s suburb Samut Prakarn province. As of yesterday, there have been 17 confirmed cases. The authority has detected this new infection group as they went to have a COVID test as required to extend work permit.–Prachachat, Bangkok Post
  • Pattaya Mayor gave a media interview that the sea-side resort is going to open the city to international tourists from 1 April 2021. The mayor said the city will open for tourists who got the complete doses of quarantine. The vaccinated tourists will need to go on area quarantine for three days then can leave the city after 14 days.—Inside Thailand

Politics

  • Yesterday was the birthday anniversary of the PM. The King gave the PM a flower vase on his birthday occasion.—Thai Rath
  • The protest led by ReDem group turned violent as 13 police officers and 20 protestors got injured. The police announced they have apprehended 28 people, including two minors (14 and 15 years old).— Reuters
    • As reporters were shot with rubber bullet when the police cracked down protestors, media organisation issued a statement regarding the violence on 20 March calling for tolerance from all parties.—Thai Rath
    • Police said they have warned the media to leave the area as they are going to use rubber bullet, but the media did not leave. The Police also said that there is a report that the King’s portrait was being burn during the crack-down.—Thai Rath
    • Sudarat Keyuraphan, Sarng Thai Group President, said she did not agree with the violence used by the police. She said she could not think of a way to amend the constitution, after the third reading did not pass the Parliamentary vote.—Thai Rath
  • It was reported repeatedly that current permanent secretary of the Interior Ministry who is going to retire this October will set up a new political party for the PM to take part in the next election. The permanent secretary is reported to set up “Ruam Thai Jai Sarng Chat” party as the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party is too conflictual to handle. The ‘rumour’ came high on bulletin as the perm-sec attended a Pheu Thai MP’s mother birthday ceremony.–Prachachat, Matichon, Than Settakij

ASEAN/World

  • After a local media posted photos of Thai merchants with Thai security forces delivering 700 bags of rice and other food supply to Myanmar military as after the coup KNU had cut off the supply chain, the 4th Infantry Commander denied the allegation saying the army does not involve in such delivery.—Thai Rath, Reuters

Economic:

CPTPP

  • Commerce Ministry is chairing a meeting between the cabinet-appointed CPTPP subcommittee on Goods, Trade, Service & Investment and 29 government agencies today.  It is among the 8 sub-committees established by the cabinet on 5 February to provide recommendations on whether or not Thailand should accede to the CPTPP.  The cabinet-appointed committees will build on the work of a similar report previously compiled by the parliament-appointed CPTPP committee.  The cabinet-appointed committees are asked to submit their recommendations to the cabinet within 90 days, or by mid-April.  Sources:  Ban Muang Matichon

Tourism

  • Phuket Tourist Association is pushing ahead with the proposal to reopen Phuket to foreign tourists without quarantine from 1 July.  Through the Phuket Tourism Sandbox scheme, the resort island must administer 933,174 doses of vaccines to a target population of 466,587, including Phuket residents, before April 15.  Public Health Ministry said it is possible to fulfill Phuket’s demands for 933174 doses of vaccines, provided that local production of Astra Zaneca vaccine could start mid this year. 
  • Businesses on Bangkok’s Khao San Road expect to lose money after health authorities announce the banning of customary activities during the Songkran holiday.  Khao San Road Business Association anticipates a daily income of 10 million Baht from the 10,000 visiting tourists this year, compared  100 million Baht per day in the pre-COVID-19 period.  Sources:  Bangkok Post Kao Hoon
  • Samui is being considered as the first destination to open to foreign arrivals under the Samui Wonder Island plan.  It will also mark the pilot launch of the Samui Sealed Route Model, in which tourists will be allowed to travel to specific destinations, but will not mingle with locals, if they are COVID19-free after 7 days of quarantine.  If the Ministry of Public Health approves of the plan, Samui will welcome the first batch of international tourists from Singapore on 1 July.  Source:  Post Today

Non-Tariff Barriers

  • Customs Department is drafting measures similar to Non-Tariff Barriers to protect domestic SMEs from low-priced imports that are exempted from import tax and VAT.  Currently, the import of parcel posts worth 1,500 Baht or less are enjoying duty and VAT waivers, which has created an unlevel playing field for local SMEs.  The Revenue Department previously proposed that the tax waivers be removed, but Customs had dismissed the proposal on the basis that it is difficult to screen the content of the millions of parcels imported into Thailand every day.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • The government forecasts that the ‘Made in Thailand’ scheme will generate 1.77 trillion Baht for the local economy.  The scheme requires that government uses at least 60 percent of local products in its state projects in a move to help local businesses and SMEs.  If the items sourced are steel and iron, the proportion is raised to 90 percent.  Businesses can join the scheme by submitting their applications to the Federation of Thai Industries.  They will be given with certificates, which companies could use to join the bidding for state projects.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • On 23 March, Finance Ministry and Bank of Thailand will submit the revised Soft Loan Act to the cabinet.  The revisions were made to ensure the BOT’s 500 billion Baht soft loan is more accessible,  given that it reported a low uptake with only 133 billion Baht approved to 76,700 SMEs since April 2020.  MoF said the original Soft Loan Act was launched under the assumption that economic impacts of COVID-19 would be short-lived, but they must now be revised since the impacts are prolonged.  The revisions will incentivise commercial banks to provide loans and broaden its target group beyond SMEs to include larger companies.The revised Act also pave way for the implementation of asset warehousing concept.  Source:  Prachachart Turakij
  • Thailand and the UK plan to sign an online MoU to set up a Joint Trade Committee on Commerce and Economic Cooperation on 29 March, paving the way for an FTA negotiation between Thailand and the UK after Brexit.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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