Advance Blog

February 4, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 4 February 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
80922,0586314,798 (at 67.09%)17,821
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
796 [45 (get tested in hospital) + 751 (active case finding)] 13 (in SQ) 7,181799 [795 reported by BMA yesterday + 4 by CCSA today]79 (+0)12,298
  • Southern resort island Phuket is eyeing to inoculate 250,000 residents in the hope the government will allow it to fully reopen to foreign tourists by October. The Phuket Chamber of Commerce and the Phuket Tourist Association will lead the initiative which will need government approval, and also seeks to waive a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for vaccinated tourists. The tourism-reliant island which conventionally welcomed more than one-fourth of the country’s tourists witnessed the revenue dropped by 78 percent.—Reuters, Bloomberg
  • The Tourism Authority of Thailand has updated the provincial entry and exit rules as health authority is easing its restrictions. https://www.tatnews.org/2021/02/provincial-entry-and-exit-rules-as-thailand-eases-covid-19-control-measures/

Politics

  • The Royal Gazette has published the 3rd Emergency Decree order banning the protest or gathering citing the reasons to curb the spread of pandemic. The order has indicated the penalty for violating at maximum two years jail term or 40,000 THB fine.—Krungthep Turakij
    • The Chief of Defence Forces elaborated the order saying that it aims at curbing the spread of COVID-19. For provinces other than the Maximum Controlled Area and High Controlled Areas, the security apparatus will inform the governors to prosecute  the preparators decisively.—Thai News Agency
  • The coup in Myanmar is creating a resonating effects on many Thai political fronts:
    • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Supattanapong Punmeechaow said after a meeting with the PM that the coup will have minimal impact on Thai economy. However, the investment in Dawei Special Economic Zone will have to be put on hold for now.—Thai Enquirer
    • The Hunger-Game three finger salute has been used as a defiant gesture against the junta. The symbolic gesture also includes the hitting of aluminium utensils to cause a sound of dissent.—The Standard
    • There will be a gathering in front of Myanmar Embassy on North Sathon Road this evening from 8.00 pm to express solidarity with Myanmar people.
  • Bloomberg ran a piece on the revival of royal defamation law after years of suspension. Pundits warned that that use of the law could backfire in the long run. Christopher Ankersen, associate professor at New York University’s School of Professional Studies regarded the latest jail term for a state official who got charges with Article 112 as a warning to other government officials to remain loyal to the king and ensure others don’t “mainstream critical dissent against the monarchy”. Tamara Loos, a professor of history and Thai studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York said that the law is a short-term solution for what is a long-term problem — and that is that people won’t be silenced.–Bloomberg

Economic:

HOM’s meeting with Commerce Ministry’s Perm Sec

  • Ministry of Commerce’s Permanent Secretary Boonyarit Kalayanamit met Australian Ambassador Allan McKinnon PSM on 28 January to discuss ways to elevate the Thai-Australian trade and economic relationship beyond TAFTA.  Australia proposed of elevating the cooperation with Thailand on sectors including tourism and health tourism; agriculture; energy and digital economy.  Both countries agreed to progress on this cooperation through the Strategic Economic Partnership concept.  Furthermore, Australia also praised Thailand for its ASEAN chairmanship in 2019 that led to the concluding of RCEP.  Source:  Department of Trade Negotiations news  Thailand’s Public Relations Department News

Vaccines

  • At least 10 hotels, tourism and chambers of commerce in Phuket have agreed to pool resources to procure COVID-19 vaccines and inoculate at least 70 percent of its residents (250,000 people) in the hope of opening up the island to international tourists by 1 October.  Foreign tourism revenue in Phuket dropped 78 percent to 87.5 million Baht in 2020 with 2.1 million arrivals. Phuket’s private vaccination drive would cover most adults before a nationwide government immunisation program for the public starts in June 2021.  Source. Reuters
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) suggests the government make Covid-19 vaccination a national agenda, with 5 million doses set aside for tourism workers.  They should be inoculated first, as soon July since they are crucial in restoring the economy.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Ease of Doing Business

  • DPM and Energy Minister Supattanapong has established an ad hoc committee to devise new measures to lure investments from Regional Operating Headquarters (ROH) and into the 12 targeted industries.  Adjustments will also be made to existing laws, regulations and work permits to attract 400 billion Baht worth of investment applications through the Board of Investment this year.   The new privileges are set to be finalised within 60 days and will also be proposed to the Prime Minister for final consideration.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • PM Prayut agreed to allocate 400 billion Baht to provide financial aids to an estimated 9 million employees of private firms who are insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act.  The proposal that each employee receive weekly payment of 1,000 Baht starting next month and the requirement that they must have no more than 500,000 Baht of bank deposit will be finalised by the cabinet next week.  This scheme will cover those insured under Section 33 who are not eligible to receive the 7,000 Baht handout through the Rao Chana scheme.  Source: Bangkok Post  Thansettakij
  • Bank of Thailand (BOT) held the policy rate at 0.5 basis point yesterday in a unanimous decision, after cutting by a total of 75 basis points in 2020.  BOT wants to preserve its policy space to use at the proper time, but is also prepared to use additional monetary tools and was assessing the need for new measures in the FX market.  The central bank may also lower the 3.2 percent growth forecast for the Thai economy this year as tourist number is likely to miss the already lowered expectations.  Source: Bloomberg Bangkok Post 
  • Modern trade sentiment fell to a 2-year low in Q4 of 2020 as operators were concerned about the crisis, also exacerbated by weak consumer purchasing power.  The Thai Chamber of Commerce revealed that the modern trade sentiment index was 47.3 points out of 100, slightly lower than 47.4 points in Q3.  Modern trade is estimated to represent about 66.3 percent of the country’s wholesale and retail market.  Source:  Bangkok Post
The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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