Advance Blog

March 30, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 30 March 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
4828,8216727,379 (at 95.00%)24,584
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
27 [22 (get tested in hospital) + 5 (active case finding)] 21 (in SQ) 1,3482,165 (+17: 5 from active case finding)94 (+0)16,057

Politics

  • An unofficial result of the local municipal results, the Progressive Movement could secure 12 seats out of 102 seats filed.—Inside Thailand
  • One of the core figures of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (Red Shirt) Nattawut Saikua held a press conference after he got free from jail term. He said he stand by the student-led protests and their causes. He affirmed that he will not come out to lead the protestors, but if the situation in the future is of necessity, that’s the issue of the future.—Krungthep Turakij
    • Earlier the other core figure of the Red Shirt Jatuporn Prompan called for a gathering on 4 April with the aims to oust the PM and amend the Constitution, without touching upon the issue of the monarchy.—Thai Post
  • The Criminal Court has made an order to the staffs at Bangkok Remand Prison to “work carefully and treat the detained according to the rights as guaranteed by the law”. The court made just order after seeing that the staff at the prison “did not make treat the detainees with enough care.”.—BBC Thai
  • Protest main figures Parit ‘Penguin’ is on his 14th day of hunger strike. Panusaya ‘Rung’ just declared that she will be on strike too as there is no justice given to her and her friends.–Prachatai
  • Deputy PM and the government legal pundit Wissanu said he is confident that the third reading of the Referendum bill will be passed.—Thai Rath

Myanmar

  • The PM said that the government is preparing for a potential flood of refugees from neighbouring Myanmar. It is reported that the PM said “We don’t want to have an exodus into our territory, but we will observe human rights, too,” Prayuth told reporters when asked about a weekend of violence in Myanmar during anti-coup demonstrations. “How many refugees are expected? We have prepared an area, but how many – we are not talking about that.”–Reuters

Economic:

Ease of Doing Business

  • DPM Supattanapong set his sights for Thailand to reach the top 10 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index by 2023, or in 2 years.  The announcement came after he chaired a meeting between various government agencies to follow up on the progress of Ease of Doing Business improvement.  He mandated for complete integration of information between public and private sectors through Customs’ National Single Window system by September 2021.  The meeting also laid out plans on 11 reforms needed to improve the country’s ease of doing business.  Source:  Krungthep Turakij newspaper, 29 March 2021  Naew Na
  • Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), under the stewardship of its newly-appointed chairman Sanan Angubolkul, launched the ‘Connect the Dots’ policy to revitalise the economy in 99 days.  TCC will connect individuals and state and private sectors to tackle short-term problems and jumpstart recovery.  Among its proposals included accelerating digital transformation to help SMEs access financial sources, as well as improving the Ease of Doing Business, specifically immigration procedures for skilled foreign labour, fee reduction for business permits and law reforms for tourism sector.  It also proposed the ‘Buy 1 Give 1’ vaccination plan, wherein a company will give a free dose of COVID-19 vaccine to the public for every dose it buys for its employee.  The private sector pledges to help the government in its effort to roll out the vaccine to the public.  Source:  Prachachat Turakij Naew Na Bangkok Post

CPTPP

  • Acting Digital Economy and Society Minister Ittiphol chaired a meeting of the CPTPP sub-committee on E-Commerce last week.  It is among the 8 sub-committees established by the cabinet, which will submit its studies on Thailand’s accession to CPTPP to the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s International Economic Policy committee and then on to the cabinet within 90 days, or by mid-April.  Source:  Thai Government website

RCEP

  • With the enforcement of RCEP, a total of 40,000 items from Thailand will benefit from preferential tariff.  Of this figure, more than 29,000 Thai export items will enjoy zero tariff from 1 January next year, with the remainder seeing tariff reduced to zero in 10-20 years.  Commerce Ministry also officially opened its RCEP Centre to educate local entrepreneurs on RCEP in 6 areas, from RCEP text and Rules of Origin to Thailand’s trade measures.  It is accessible via the website www.moc.go.th  Source:  Naew Na Bangkok Post

Tourism

  • Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) called for Bangkok to be included in the tourism sandbox scheme in October that would allow vaccinated visitors to enter without quarantine.  This could help Thailand achieve 6.5 million foreign tourists this year.  With Phuket slated to reopen in July and five destinations to follow in October, tourist arrival is expected to reach 3 million.  Thailand could welcome an additional 3 million visitors if Bangkok could reopen in October, but on the condition that the government pursues travel bubble with low-risk countries and roll out vaccine certificates by April.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) maintained policy rate at 0.5 percent for a seventh straight meeting to support economic recovery.  BOT also slashed its 2021 economic growth forecast to 3 percent from 3.2 percent due to the resurgence of COVID-19 in Dec 2020.  The drop in tourism is expected to take its toll on Q1 2021 GDP, with projection for foreign arrivals in 2021 trimmed to 3 million from 5.5 million.  For 2022, BOT forecasts that GDP will grow by 4.7 percent and will recover to pre-pandemic level in 2.5 years.  Source:  Bank of Thailand press release Bangkok Post
  • World Bank revised downward its forecast for Thai GDP this year to a 3.4 percent growth from 4 percent.  Uncertainty prevails due to COVID-19 and recovery is expected to be gradual.  It is essential for the government to continue injecting fiscal measures to aid the public and business operators, particularly the labour market in the tourism sector.  World Bank expects visitor number this year to tally 4-5 million.  Source: Bangkok Post   Pattaya Mail
  • Finance Minister Akhom insists that the Thai economy can grow by 4 percent, with the stimulus packages kicking in, and export and tourism starting to recover following the vaccine rollout.  However, MoF’s Fiscal Policy Office cautions against this ambitious projection.  To achieve such growth, FPO notes that exports must expand by 6.2 percent, private investment by 3.4 percent and foreign arrivals must exceed 5 million.  Yet February’s export figure saw a -2.59 percent contraction, while the violence in Myanmar was starting to hit Thai exports, with shipments to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in February down 4.2 percent YoY.  Sources:  Naew Na Bangkok Post    Manager Online 
  • Thai exports in February contracted by -2.59 percent YoY to USD20.2 billion after expanding by +0.35 percent in January, largely attributable to a -4 percent drop in industrial product and -93 percent decline in gold shipments.  Excluding gold, oil and weaponry, export in February expanded by +2.87 percent YoY.  Meanwhile, February’s import surged by 22 percent to USD 20.2 billion.  Commerce Ministry forecast a 4 percent export growth for 2021 and said the sector will start recovering in Q2.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Industry Ministry has set up a new committee on Bio, Circular and Green (BCG) economy to set Thailand on a path toward economic sustainability. Bio-economy is projected to be a new source of revenue for farmers because it promotes the use of renewable resources as raw materials to produce food as well as energy and other value-added products.  Source:  Bangkok Post
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