Advance Blog

January 25, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 25 January 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
18713,6876310,662 (at 77.90%)9,450
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
61+116 (active case finding) 10 (in SQ)2,950700 [678 reported by BMA yesterday + 22 by CCSA today]75 (+2: a 61-year-old UK male travelling to Thailand on Christmas Eve; a 56-year-old Thai female who got infected from her husband)4,684
  • There are more clarity in the Thai national vaccine strategy:
    • Over the weekend, the Government Spokesperson conveyed the PM’s message on private sector’s import of COVID vaccine. The government spokesperson said that the PM has a policy of allowing private sectors to import the vaccine, but it must get Food and Drug Administration’s approval which is based on three principles: Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of the vaccine.—Thai Rath
    • On the global vaccine pooling effort COVAX facility, the director-general of the Disease Control Department responded to the inquiries why Thailand does not join WHO’s COVAX scheme in sorting vaccine. The program is now dispatching Pfizer’s vaccine to lower-income countries. The DG said that “initially, Thailand planned to join the scheme, but in the negotiation we knew that this scheme is providing free vaccine for low-income country. Thailand, as a middle-income, will not get the free vaccine.” The DG added that should Thailand join the initiative, Thailand needs to provide funding to support and gets vaccines in return at a normal price. If vaccine proofs to be unsuccessful, the DG said “we will not get the money back, so it is difficult to fund the project.” It didn’t mean, however, that Thailand decide not to join COVAX after all. Thailand is requesting to get vaccine at a lower price.–Matichon
  • The COVID positive DJ, who has been travelling to many places, including Banyan Tree Hotel on Sathorn Road, has been spreading the virus to 19 more cases. The origin of the cluster is a 33-year-old male who travelled to nightclubs in Chiang Mai and joined the DJ birthday party on 9 January.–Matichon
    • A virologist at Chulalongkorn University posted on his social media that the COVID positive case of a vocal DJ in Bangkok could potentially be the new super spreader. The doctor suggested to avoid partying even with colleagues and that there might be a lot of people who got infected but didn’t realise.—Krungthep Turakij
  • The Deputy CCSA spokesperson warned that tomorrow Thailand will see a high spike surge in COVID cases, as there have been more than 800 cases of cases in Samut Sakhon due to active case finding.
  • It is expected that in the plenary CCSA meeting, there will be a discussion on the easing of lockdown, including allowing dine-in until 11.00pm (currently at 9.00 pm). If approved, then it will need to get cabinet approval. The proposal was from the Thai Restaurant Association.–Matichon
  • Their Majesties the King and Queen have given Empress Analysis Mobile Unit that has the capacity to test 70 samples within three hours testing time.—all media outlet

Politics

  • The Opposition has submitted the name list of Ministers to be grilled in the upcoming censure debate:
    • Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
    • Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan
    • Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Chanvirakul
    • Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit
    • Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin
    • Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda
    • Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao
    • Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Bunyamanee
    • Education minister Natthapol Teepsuwan
    • Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob–Matichon
  • Super Poll released its latest poll on the enforcement of Article 112 lese majeste. 97.2 percent of the samples agreed with the Digital Economy Ministry’s prosecution of a opposition leader Thanathorn Jungrungreungkij from his FB Live questioning the King owned pharmaceutical company involvement and monopoly on local vaccine production. The poll also shows that 93 percent of samples regard the use of Article 112 as apolitical.—Super Poll

Economic:

Australia

  • The Thai media has disseminated reports from various English language news agencies including AFP, Reuters and BBC News, on Google’s threat to stop making its search engine available in Australia if the its government proceed with its planned digital media code.  The code would see digital giants such as Google and Facebook pay local media companies for providing their content in search and sharing their content on social media.  Source:  Khao Sod Krungthep Turakij Thai Rath

Foreign Policies and FTAs

  • The Federation of Thai Industries expects the US-China trade war will continue under the leadership of Joe Biden, with the side effect being the US deciding to impose anti-dumping duties on car tyres exported from Thailand as it is perceived as a new production base for Chinese companies.  To this end, FTI urges Thailand to join the CPTPP as a way of diversifying its export markets and enjoy preferential tariff.   The Thai government is also expected to urge Washington to restore trade benefits for some Thai products under the GSP, which was suspended by the Trump administration.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The article asserted that COVID-19 has uneven impacts on various countries.  It identifies the worst-hit economies as those with extended lockdowns, large domestic outbreaks, reliance on international tourism and domestic political uncertainty, such as Malaysia, Thailand and The Philippines.  The World Bank and Asia Development Bank also discussed the importance of vaccine rollout to Asia’s social developments and economic growth.  Source:  Asia Focus, Bangkok Post, 25 January 2021
  • RCEP and CPTPP are identified as the two mega-FTAs that will contribute to the recovery of Southeast Asian countries.  The World Bank noted that even though CPTPP has greater discipline, the RCEP is likely to increase participants’ trade and incomes by twice as much because the latter has wider country coverage, especially in Asia.  Source:  Asia Focus, Bangkok Post, 25 January 2021

Others

  • Thailand’s export last year had beat the -7 percent contraction forecast.  Commerce Ministry reported that in 2020, Thai export contracted by -6.01 percent to total USD 231.5 billion, while imports dropped 12.4 percent to USD207 billion, leaving a trade surplus of USD24.5 billion.  In December 2020 alone, exports surged by 4.71 per cent to reach USD 20.082 billion, the first rise in 8 months and the highest growth in 22 months, due to recovery in demand for industrial products.  Despite the COVID-19 resurgence in many Thai export markets, goods transport had not been badly disrupted since countries had imposed zoned restrictions and not national lockdowns.  For 2021, Commerce Ministry forecasts exports to grow by 4-5 percent, thanks to the global economic recovery.  Source:  Ministry of Commerce Press Release  The Nation  Bangkok Post
  • Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) together with the Electrical and Electronics Institute and Public Health Ministry are collaborating to support the domestic manufacturing of refrigerators to hold COVID-19 vaccines at 2-8 degree Celcius.  The refrigerators are expected to be built at half the price of imported cold storage facilities, at 40,000 – 50,000 Baht compared with 100,000 Baht for imported fridge.  The local fridges will be rolled out next month to serve the government plan to distribute 2 million doses of vaccines from February to April.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The second wave of COVID-19 outbreak is anticipated to impact Thailand’s tourism for the first 3 months of this year and generate a loss of 138 billion Baht, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).  To offset this loss and maintain employment for some 100,000 workers in the tourism value chain, TAT plans to accelerate promotional campaigns targeting inbound visitors globally starting from Q2 of 2021.  Overall, TAT targets 1.2 trillion Baht in tourism revenue this year, with domestic market accounting for 58 percent and international travellers 42 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Office of National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council received the cabinet’s approval to allocate 24.4 billion Baht on R&D in FY2022, an increase from 19.9 billion in FY 2021.  The budget will be spent on developing product champions in the segments of medical equipment, AI, Electric Vehicles and next generation automobiles as well as on innovations to strengthen the country’s competitiveness.  Thailand’s overall spending in R&D in 2021 is forecasted to reach 1.5 percent of GDP (270 billion Baht), an increase from 1.09 percent of GDP in 2020.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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