Advance Blog

August 4, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 4 August 2020

News

Updates related to COVID-19:

  • Today, Thailand reports a newly confirmed case, a total of 3,321 cases. Out of the total number, 3,142 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.61%); 121 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed case is a Thai national returned from Russia and has been in state quarantine since. This is the 71st consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • Yesterday, the CCSA informed the public that there are more than 100 military personnel from the US and Japan to take part in military training and will be in ASQ for 14 days in Conrad Hotel on Wireless Road and Anantra Riverside on Thonburi side of town.
  • At 10 am the office of attorney-general has told a press briefing that the office will press charge against the Red Bull heir on using illicit drugs; and will revise the investigation on driving at above speed limit, based on a new sets of evidence found.—all media outlet

Politics

  • After the weekly cabinet meeting, the PM has told in press briefing that he support the House’s committee proposal to amend the constitution. He said that in the next Parliamentary session, the House can discuss on this and he said the government is giving its full support on this.—Krungthep Turakij
  • Regarding the new cabinet line-up, the PM has approved the resignation of Government spokesperson Prof Dr Narumon effective from July, 30. The media speculates that it is highly likely that she will be nominated for the Deputy Labour Minister.—all media outlet  
  • Media quotes a source in the Government House saying that the PM has decided to nominate Mr Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, the former main ruling PPRP spokesperson and the secretary to the former Finance Minister as the next government spokesperson, citing his ability to excel in politically complex issues.–Prachachart
  • Yesterday marks a significant moment of the series of flash mob as a human rights lawyer openly demanded reforms to the monarchy. The lawyer said the government has allowed the monarchy to exercise his power to be above the constitutional monarchy regime has allowed. Also, the monarch and the palace did not come out to deter or comment on the case of ultra-right wing Doctor Rianthong who has been using the monarchical institution to harass the dissidents. The organiser has proposed three points:
    • 1. Abolish or amend laws that would make the monarchy have powers that is incompatible with the constitutional monarchy regime;
    • 2. Amend the lese majeste law to be compatible with democratic regime;
  • Thailand’s digital minister has threatened legal action against Facebook and accused the social media giant of not complying with government requests to restrict content deemed illegal, including perceived insults to the country’s monarchy.–Reuters

Business

  • University of Thai Chamber of Commerce forecasts that Thailand’s GDP this year will contract by 11.4 percent in the worst-case-scenario, wherein Thailand is closed off for at least 6 months; the government’s 400-billion-Baht budget set aside for economic and social rehabilitation is not disbursed; and global trade worsens.  This will mark the deepest contraction since Thailand’s economic readings began in 1961.  The crisis would incur the heaviest economic losses, estimated at 2.1 trillion Baht as of yesterday, which will exceed the 1.4 trillion Baht worth of damages generated by the 2011 floods.  In addition, the drought would also cause 76.3 billion Baht in losses to the country.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • According to a survey conducted by the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce on 800 SMEs from 20-24 July, most SMEs can survive from 3 – 9 months if they continue to have instable income.  Those that can survive for 9 months are in fashion & textile; plastic & rubber; carpentry & furniture; wholesale; restaurants and beauty sectors.  SMEs that can survive for 6 months include food & beverages; jewellery; retail; tourism; hospitality; construction; and logistics.  Businesses that survive the shortest, for 3 months, is automotive.  Source: Krungthep Turakij
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) has expressed fresh concerns over the delay in disbursement of the 400-billion-Baht stimulus budget due to the political vacuum caused by economic minister reshuffling. The government is urged to launch short-term and mid-term plans to spur the economy, given that the 5,000 Baht cash-handout has ended since June.  It also noted that export may not recover as the Baht remains strong.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Tourism and Sports Ministry is encouraging hotels in Thailand to offer the same hotel rates to expatriates as the locals, given that the country aims to attract 2 million foreign residents to travel more domestically.  Moreover, expats have higher purchasing power than locals and if they travel domestically four times during the remainder of the year, they would generate 8 million trips for the tourism industry.  However, to date, government does not have stimulus measures for expats.   Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Gold price has been soaring and is anticipated to reach USD2,000 per ounce.  In Thailand, the price of bullion with 96.5 percent purity is edging closer to 30,000 baht per one-Baht weight gold.  The investment return generated from gold is around 30 percent year-to-date.  Gold Futures reached an all-time high on 1 August, with price surging past USD2,000 an ounce, while SPDR Gold Shares – an exchange-traded fund that most domestic gold mutual funds invest in – saw a 30 percent rise in the fund’s asset values as it had net inflows of over $20 billion during the past 12 months.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN) has organised a public hearing aimed at revamping the Free Trade Agreement Fund (FTA Fund), which was launched to assist farmers who are affected by the 13 FTAs Thailand signed with 18 countries.  Recommendations were made for the FTA to become a revolving fund, with funds raised from the private sector rather than an allocation from the government.  DTN will finalise the proposals and submit it for Commerce Ministry’s approval by the end of this year.  Source: Prachachart Turakij
  • The Electric Vehicle Association of Thailand (EVAT) said the EV market in Thailand is the most advanced among ASEAN countries and will grow quickly during 2025 to 2030.  While foreign auto companies are keen to invest in EV production in Thailand because it is a manufacturing base for normal cars, EV investment and production have been moving slowly due to high operating costs.  Meanwhile, the National EV Policy Committee has approved plans to make Thailand a production base for EVs within five years.  It is envisaged that by 2030, 30 percent of all vehicles produced in Thailand will be EV.  Source:  The Nation
  • The Chearavanont family who owns the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), has ranked 21st on Bloomberg’s “World’s Richest Families” list for the year 2020 with assets totalling USD30.7 billion (959.19 billion Baht).  Of the 25 families listed on the Bloomberg 2020 listing, the Chearavanont family is the only Thai family on the list. Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Ministry of Finance reports that the number of applications for pico-finance loans in June 2020 was 1,214, a slight increase of 15 from May 2020 as the lockdown eases.  However, the number of NPLs from pico-finance loan in May, valued at 423.69 million Baht, remains high as debtors affected by COVID-19 are unable to service their debts.  Source: Thai Rath

Australia

  • An opinion piece on Australia’s dilemma in engaging with China economically and the American politically and militarily in the shifting domestic political climates within Canberra and Washington.—Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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