Advance Blog

March 4, 2022
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 3 March 2022

News

Newly confirmed casesTotal CasesDeath tollHospitalised/ intensive care patients
23,618
Domestic +23,437 Abroad+181
2,958,162
(since January 2021)
49223,414 
Total vaccination1st dose vaccine recipients (28 Jan – 2 March )2nd dose vaccine recipients (28 Jan -2 March)3rd dose vaccine recipients (28 Jan – 2 March )
124,187,243(+150,964)53,657,591 (+ 51,366 yesterday)     77.2 %49,770,051 (+16,945 yesterday)     71.6 %20,691,271 (+82,364 yesterday)     29.7%

  Sources : Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and Department of Control 

Covid-19 situation /regulation change 

  • Thailand’s central government and public health agencies are now reviewing the latest Covid-19 situation by the end of the month if it can uplift further restrictions and a possible shutdown. So far The government has increased the ’danger level’ to four and has given autonomy to provincial health offices to make the best decisions for their remit but numbers have continued to trend upwards. Thaienquirer
  • Ministry of Heath expects new Covid-19 infection per day will rise to 40,00 persons by the end of April before dropping in late May ThaiPBS

Movement of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Thailand

  • Thailand has joined 140 other countries to vote for a United Nations resolution demanding an immediate withdrawal of the Russian forces from Ukraine and deploring Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine. Full statement stated by Suriya Chindawongse, ambassador and permanent representative of Thailand to the UN is as follows;  

Mr. President,

                  Thailand has carefully considered the draft and voted in support of the resolution because of the overriding importance that Thailand attaches to the principles enshrined

             in the United Nations Charter and those of international law, in particular respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and the non-use of force against States. Our support

             of the resolution also underlines our deep concerns for the plight of affected civilians and the humanitarian consequences of the hostilities and violence in the area.                 

In this regard, we call on all parties to fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law. We are also concerned with the potential longer-term consequences on the rules-based international order, and renew our call towards peace and for all parties to enhance dialogue through various means to truly realise a peaceful settlement of the situation. Thank you.

  • Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now reviewing the announcement by  the embassy of Ukraine in Thailand that has been circulation on social media on  requesting foreign military volunteer to join force on Russian invasion of Ukraine which has received high interest with Thai men Dailynews  
  • The government- coalition Civilised Party leader, Mongkolkit Suksintaranont went to the embassy of Ukraine in Bangkok to obtain the applications for foreigners had the right to join the Ukrainian army, saying these

applications aim to give to the party members who are interested in joining Ukrain military service to fight with Russia invasion. TheOpener 

Politics

  • Uncertainty looms over the long-awaited Bangkok governor election. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Kreu-ngam told the media that he is unsure if the proposed date for the Bangkok governor election will be placed on next week’s cabinet meeting agenda. He only said the question about the election date should still be raised in March as previously laid out by the Election Commission and the Ministry of Interior. Thairath 
  • Sayant Yutitham, Palangpracharat MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat, gave his reassurance that Gen Prayut and the government will have a backing of at least 238 MPs in the Lower House and certainly more than half of all MPs in any future no-confidence debate.  His comment came in response to Setthakij Thai Party key member Captain Thammanat Prompao’s comment that his party is not part of 260 MPs who will vote in support of Gen Prayut, he also guaranteed that the government will garner enough support from MPs to push through the budget bill for the 2023 fiscal year expected to take effect in October after a new parliamentary session and a no-confidence motion of the opposition. Thairath 
  • Meanwhile, the coalition Bhumjai Thai Party is gearing up for the next general election by appointing executives as heads of various regions of the country who would then be in-charge of the polls and will send the candidate for Bangkok governor election as well Posttoday

Other news

  • A Thai court has refused to let a Thai student charged with lese-majeste to go pursue her master’s degree in Germany where she has received a scholarship. Ravisara filed for a second request on Wednesday and the court is expected to provide its verdict on Thursday. She said that if the court denied her request, she will keep on trying. ThaiEnquirer

Economics: 

  • Thai exports expanded 8 percent YoY in January due to the global economic recovery, easing of shipping container shortage and promotions by authorities.  Exports fetched USD 21.3 billion, with imports rising by 20.5 percent to USD23.7 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of USD2.52 billion.  The deficit is attributable to the rising cost of oil import, which corresponds with the rise of global fuel price.  Commerce Minister Jurin does not expect the Russia – Ukraine conflict to significantly impact Thai export.  This is because Thai exports to Russia and Ukraine are marginal, with export value to Russia only making up 0.38 percent (USD1.02 billion). and to Ukraine 0.05 percent(USD135 million) of total exports last year.  Sources:  Khao Sod  Bangkok Post 
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) advised the government to borrow an additional 1 trillion Baht to stimulate the economy and tame oil price in response to the prolonged Russian-Ukraine tension, especially since oil price has hit the highest in 8 years at 100 USD per barrel.  JSCCIB has thus revised its forecast for 2022 GDP growth from 3-4.5 percent to 2.5 – 4.5 percent due to concerns on soaring oil price, with export growth maintained at 3-5 percent and inflation prospect raised to 3 percent.  The conflict will reduce Russian tourist arrival number, originally forecasted at 600,000, by 50 percent in the short run, which could be offset by the government’s scheme to attract tourists from other countries.  Source: Thansettakij  Bangkok Post 
  • Energy Ministry will seek the cabinet’s permission to borrow an additional 10 billion Baht to boost the liquidity of its Oil Fund, which is instrumental in capping oil price.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 3 March 2022 
  • To offset for the loss of Chinese market, Tourism Authority of Thailand aims to attract 5 million tourists from short-haul destinations.  Of this figure, some 1.5 million will be from Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore), South Asia (India) and Australia, while another 3.5 million will be from East Asia (Japan and China).  For Australia, TAT has set sights on attracting 200,000 tourists as Australia has lifted its quarantine requirement and there are Thai Airways and Qantas flights operating between both countries.  Australians’ advanced airline booking for Easter in mid-April is currently around 80 percent.  Thailand hopes Japanese will start their travels in April, and Chinese from Q3 onwards.  Already, TAT has signed a letter of intent with Thai Vietjet for 1 year to generate demand in Southeast Asian countries.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij  Bangkok Post 
  • NESDC confirmed that of the 500 billion Baht loan, there is 97 billion Baht left, which should be sufficient to spur the economy if there are no severe COVID-19 outbreaks.  It suggested the government step up in disbursing its investment budget of 100 billion Baht and draw major private investments in the vicinity of several hundreds of millions of Baht in new industries such as Electric Vehicle (EVs), data centre.  The 600 -700 billion Baht of investments filed through BOI must materialise within Q1.   
  • For this year, NESDC anticipates GDP to grow by 3.5-4.5 percent but is concerned about 4 factors.  These are rising household debts; inflation; geo-political conflicts which may lead to non-tariff barriers; and new COVID-19 outbreaks.  The agency encouraged Thailand to accede to CPTPP to access new market to further bolster export.  Source:  Thansettakij 
  • Commerce Ministry approved a review of the extension of an anti-dumping duty on metal sheets imported from Vietnam and will soon start an investigation and open hearings from stakeholders.  Thailand has imposed anti-dumping tariffs for 5 years on pre-painted and painted galvanised steel or metal sheets imported from Vietnam, commonly used to make roofs and electrical appliances. These tariffs have been in effect from March 25, 2017 to March 24, 2022.  Thailand believes dumping might restart if the anti-dumping measures on imported metal sheets from Vietnam end, damaging local industry.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Cabinet’s Decisions, 1 March 2022 

  • Approved special incentives for 6 economic zones in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) comprising the Eastern Economic Corridor for aviation (EECa); EEC for innovation (EECi); EEC for digital (EECd); EEC for medical hub (EECd); EEC of genomics (EECg); and EEC of high-speed rail (EECh).  The incentives are applicable to investors in each zone’s target industries, with privileges including allowing investors to buy or own properties in the EEC, bring in migrant workers and their spouses; and work permit exemption.  In the future, the incentives would be applicable to all special economic zones nationwide, including the Digital and High Technology Centre in Ban Chang, Rayong province.  Source:  Manager Online  Thai PublicaMCOTBangkok Post   
  • Approved of 2 MoUs between Thailand and Saudi Arabia.  Both MoUs agree for Thailand to send its workers to Saudi Arabia to work in the fields of construction, service and domestic chores, such as chauffeur, housekeeper, nanny and gardener, among others.  The MoUs are valid for 5 years and can be extended for an additional 5 years.  The Saudi government will be responsible for providing the job description including the wage, benefits, protection and other relevant conditions for the Thai workers.  Source:  Manager OnlineMatichon 
  • Approved an air travel bubble with India. Under the agreement, only Thai, Indian, Nepali and Bhutanese nationals and other nationalities originating from either Thailand or India who hold a valid visa to enter either country will be eligible to fly.  It is expected to commence later this month.  Source: Bangkok Post  National News Bureau of ThailandKrungthep Turakij 
  • Approved 1.41-billion-Baht budget for the construction of the Phuket Integrated Medical Services Centre to promote the province as a world-class medical tourism destination.  Upon completion, the centre will serve as an international health/medical hub that provides premium long-term care to  Thai and foreigners.  Construction is slated for completion in year 2026.  Source:  The Nation

Others

  • The Russia-Ukraine conflict has clouded Thailand’s tourism outlook, according to the hoteliers.  To this end, the tourism industry might attract only 10 percent of the pre-pandemic arrival numbers, or around 4 million tourists.  According to Minor Group, Thailand is seeing cancellation from the Russian market than the hotels in Europe.  They urge the government to forgo the RT-PCR testing requirement and lift travel restrictions to boost Thai tourism. Source: Bangkok Post 
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking are reassessing Thailand’s economic prospect for 2022 in light of the Russian-Ukraine war.  The Thai National Shippers’ Council has cut Thailand’s export growth forecast for Q1 2022 from 5 to zero percent largely due to concerns on rising oil price.  Purchase orders from Thailand’s key trading partners are anticipated to dip by USD4-5 billion, particularly for vehicles, rubber products and electrical appliances.  Sources:  Bangkok Post 
  • Ministry of Commerce (MoC) identified Thai export of rubber products as having high potential during COVID-19 outbreak.  Thailand remains the world’s number 1 exporter of rubber and is also the world’s 4th exporter of rubber products such as automobile parts, rubber gloves and PPE gears.  MoC urges Thai exporters to maximise the benefits of FTAs, such as RCEP that reduces tariffs for Thai exports of rubber to China and South Korea.  Source:  Matichon 

PTT has invested 940 million Baht over 5 years, with revenue from new businesses such as pharmaceutical and Electric Vehicles (EV) expected to grow to 30 percent in 2033.  It insists the Russian-Ukraine war will not affects its oil import.  Among the pipeline is its plan to join FoxxCon in opening an Electric Vehicle factory and sell the EVs by 2024.  Its overarching goal is to tap into the EV value chain.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 2 March 2022

The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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