Advance Blog

April 5, 2021
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 5 April 2021

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
Newly confirmed case(s)Total CasesProvinces with confirmed casesDischarged from hospitalFrom 15 Dec, totally confirmed cases
19429,3216827,840 (at 94.95%)25,084
Local transmissionFrom abroadBeing hospitalised/ in field-hospital/ quarantinedConfirmed cases in BangkokDeath tollAccumulated cases from active case finding
182 [ 87 (get tested in hospital) + 95 (active case finding)] 12 (in SQ) 1,3862,315 (+46)95 (+0)16,188
  • In what that could be considered as the third wave of COVID surge in Thailand, there have been reports of domestic infections densely from the following venues:
    • Krystal Club Lounge in Thonglor Soi 25
    • Ekamai Beer House
    • Bar Bar Bar Pub Thonglor and Dollar Bangkok
    • The Cassette Music Bar in Ekamai
    • The Emquatier Sukhumvit 39
    • Baan Phahon Cafe and Bar
    • The Emporium/Emquartier shopping complex
  • Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement confirming that Japanese Ambassador to Thailand is tested COVID positive and is being hospitalised.—Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
  • It is reported that the Japanese envoy went to the Lounge in Thonglor on 25 March and that he went with (an) economic Minister(s).—Inside Thailand
    • Deputy PM and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow showed his negative COVID test result as he said that he was never at the Club Lounge.—The Reporters  
    • A Michelin street food store ‘Jay Fai’ has closed her store temporarily after it is reported that the Japanese envoy went to her store with various other VIPs.
    • Partner to Singha conglomerate President, M.L. Piyapas Bhirombhakdi posted on her Instagram account apologise the store for causing troubles.–Matichon
  • The Secretary-general of the National Security Council denied the rumour that the government is about to impose curfew in a bid to curb the new wave of infection. He said the CCSA remains constant in its approach of bubble and seal COVID hotspot with the aim of not disrupting ordinary people’s life.—National News Bureau of Thailand
  • As of today, the new cluster linked to the night clubs has been spread to more than 70 persons.
  • The CCSA spokesperson said the centre is going to propose three additional tough measures equipping the Department of Disease Control with authority:
    • Should there is any COVID infection case from any entertainment complex, the DDC is authorised to close the venue for two weeks.
    • Should the infection is getting widespread, the governor will have authority to lock down businesses in any designated area, including the entire province.
    • Should there is any infection from any restaurant the club-goers went to, the CCSA is authorised to close the business.—Thai Rath
  • Minister of Tourism and Sports said that within this week he will discuss with Singaporean Embassy to consider the possibility of a ‘travel bubble’ scheme with Singapore. He also mentioned that as Singapore is launching travel bubble scheme with Australia and New Zealand, he is hoping that Thailand could be part of the initiative.—Krungthep Turakij

Politics

  • Yesterday, a group of protestors led by former Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan gathered at Rachadamneon Avenue aiming to oust PM Prayut. Former red-shirt leader said that this protest is a united front of all political ideologies against the PM. It is reported that guards in the protest prevented anyone showing signs that might be inflammatory to the monarchy. Jatuporn will gather every day until the PM is ousted.—Thai Rath
    • The Metropolitan Police Commander pressed charges on violating the Emergency Decree.—Krungthep Turakij
  • A vocal MP from the main ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) said that the party is going to propose a motion to amend the constitution by section on 7 April.—Thai Post
  • A source in PPRP said that Deputy PM Prawit has assigned Deputy Agriculture Minister Thaammanat to be the campaign leader to support the former Police Chief Chakthip to run for the Bangkok Governor election.—Khao Sod

Economic:

Tourism

  • The Thai Tourism Ministry will within this week discuss with Singapore about forging the Travel Bubble Scheme for exchanges of fully-inoculated travellers.  This is a continuation of the partial opening up of Phuket since 1 April.  Tourism Minister Phipat noted that Singapore is in talks to set up a Travel Bubble with Australia and New Zealand, for which Thailand might ask to join the scheme to create a 1+3 route.  Thailand is also discussing the Travel Bubble concept with Hong Kong, which is in turn negotiating a Travel Bubble with Singapore.  Thailand is also considering forging Travel Bubble with the Middle East and China.  Tourism Ministry has set 1 October as the day to kick off the Travel Bubble scheme.  Sources:  Krungthep TurakijMatichon
  • The Thai government’s target to generate 348 billion Baht in tourism revenue from the foreign market in 2021 is a stretch, as is its goal of attaining a 4 percent GDP growth.  Phuket’s tourism income of 442 billion Baht in 2019 plummeted to 108 billion in 2020 because of the pandemic. The sandbox scheme is not without its obstacles.  For starters, Phuket eyes having 70 percent of its residents inoculated by June such that the island could waive quarantine requirement for fully-inoculated foreign visitors by July.  To date, Phuket has only booked 100,000 vaccine doses and the prospect of achieving the above timeframe seems dim. 
  • NESDC and Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) do not expect the Thai tourism industry to see a revival until the Q4 2021, when 5 more destinations — Krabi, Phangnga, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai – are added to the sandbox. A TAT e-survey of 18 markets revealed that they prefer destinations that have lifted the quarantine days.  Source:  Bangkok Post

Others

  • On 1 April, representatives from Australia and Thailand participated in the Authorized Economic Operator – Mutual Recognition Arrangement (AEO-MRA) Virtual Singing Ceremony between Thai Customs Department and Australian Border Force at the Thai Customs Department.  Thai Customs, represented by Director-General Patchara, signed the MoU virtually with Michael Outram, ABF’s Commissioner.  Thai Customs had previously signed the AEO with Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore.  Source:  Pineapple News AgencyCustoms Dept’s Press Release
  • Academic Somchai Phakapawiwat voiced his concern on Thailand’s rising household debt, which is rooted the economy’s structural problems.  This is reflected in Thailand’s falling competitiveness in the last 20 years, with an average GDP growth of only 3 percent.  This lack of competitiveness, which will continue to depress people’s income as well as their debt serviceability.  He urges the government to upskill the population and boost their entrepreneurial skills to increase their channels of generating.  Source:  Matichon
  • Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry (EconThai) said Thailand’s unemployment has passed the lowest point in October 2020.  Employment has started to improve since then (currently 1.5 percent) due to global economic recovery and the government’s stimulus package that bolstered domestic spending.  However, tourism sector’s slow rebound could continue to weigh down on employment.  Source:  Naew Na
  • Thailand is on course to become the world’s largest Durian producer over the next 5 years, with demands from China fuelling production.  However, Thailand is also at risk of losing to neighbouring countries, according to University of Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).  In the past decade, Thailand’s Durian production rose by 30 percent.  Production could rise further by 83 percent from 2021 – 2025, bringing the total annual Durian production to 2.02 million tonnes – the largest Durian production in the world.  Yet Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are stepping up their production by 42, 32, 40 and 20 percent, respectively.  As such, Thailand is projected ti lose its Durian export market share from 80 percent last year to 57 percent in 2025.  Source:  Bangkok PostKrungthep Turakij
  • Commerce Ministry plans to ask state-owned banks to consider granting soft loans with low-interest to help Thai SMEs in Myanmar that are forced to close for almost a month as the political instability escalates.  MoC’s Perm Sec Boonyarit was instructed to oversee discussions between the Thai-Myanmar Business Council and Thailand’s SME-D bank as well as Export-Import Bank of Thailand to ensure Thai SMEs have access to funding sources.  Border trade between Thailand and Myanmar remains unaffected despite the latter’s political turmoil.  Sources:  Bangkok PostKrungthep Turakij
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has scrapped its plan to impose a minimum income requirement of 1 million baht per year for cryptocurrency traders, following an overwhelmingly negative response to the proposal at several public hearings held last month online.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Bank of Thailand says it will begin testing use of its retail digital currency for the general public in the second quarter of next year before fully implementing it over the next 3-5 five years.  The retail central bank digital currency (retail CBDC) is aimed at providing access to convenient and secure financial services.  Sources:  Bangkok Post

The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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