Advance Blog

January 10, 2023
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 6 January 2023

KEY ISSUES AT A GLANCE

  • Tourists need at least 2 Covid-19 shots to enter Thailand: Health Minister. The date this requirement will take effect, however, was not announced. This was agreed at a meeting of four ministries on Thursday. A large number of tourists from China are expected to travel overseas from January 8, when the country will also stop requiring inbound travellers to quarantine, although they must be tested before arrival. Source: The Nation, Dailynews
  • Banks are cutting down on staff and 50 percent of the physical branches will be gone by 50% in a move towards Virtual Bank era. The Bank of Thailand (BOT) plans to implement virtual bank regulations by the end of 2023 as it has been studying virtual bank models in several countries. Virtual banks will offer services such as loans in addition to basic financial deposit and withdrawal services. The regulation will also allow commercial bank groups to apply for virtual bank licenses and broaden their business opportunities. Already, banks have closed down 334 physical branches in the first 11 months of 2022. In the next 3-5 years, these physical branches will continue to close down by 50 percent. To this end, the state-owned Krungthai Bank has signed an MoU with telecom operator AIS to invest in a virtual bank. Source: Prachachart Turakij, Bangkok Post

AUSTRALIA IN THE NEWS

  • No significant announcements.

GENERAL

  • 317 die, 2,437 injured on Thai roads during 7-day New Year holiday. A total of 317 people were killed and 2,437 others injured in 2,440 road accidents across Thailand between December 29th and January 4th, according to statistics provided by the Department of Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and related agencies. On the last day of the New Year holidays on Wednesday, 25 people died and 253 others were injured in 241 road accidents. 34.85% of the accidents were caused by speeding and 80.24% involved motorcycles. 24.48% were the result of cutting in front of another vehicle at speed. The death toll and injuries from road accidents this year were the fewest in the last three years. Source: Thai PBS World, Thairath

POLITICS

  • Navy says ‘HTMS Sukhothai’ was fully repaired before being recommissioned. The Royal Thai Navy on Thursday rejected a report on a Facebook page that the doomed “HTMS Sukhothai” was not fit for operation as its steel hull had eroded at 13 spots. The corvette sank some 20 nautical miles in a stormy sea off the coast of Bang Saphan district in Prachuap Khiri Khan province on December 18 with 105 crew onboard. So far, 76 members of the crew have been rescued and brought safely to shore, while 24 sailors have been declared dead and five missing. Since December 29, no bodies have been found. Source: The Nation, Bangkok Post
  • Navy names new transport ship ‘Chang’. A ceremonial launching of the Royal Thai Navy’s third amphibious transport dock ship took place in China on Wednesday, a source said. Conducted at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard near Shanghai, the ceremony was performed by Aranya Sirisawat, wife of Adm Thaloengsak Sirisawat, the deputy navy chief, who also took part in the event. The ship was purchased as part of the navy’s 20-year plan to have all four such large amphibious ships in commission for various operations by 2036. They include transporting amphibious command and support vessels, supporting submarine operations, taking part in marine search and rescue operations, evacuating disaster victims and supporting marine and portal anti-terrorism operations. Source: Bangkok Post, Thairath
  • Tourists need at least 2 Covid-19 shots to enter Thailand: Health Minister. The date this requirement will take effect, however, was not announced. This was agreed at a meeting of four ministries on Thursday. A large number of tourists from China are expected to travel overseas from January 8, when the country will also stop requiring inbound travellers to quarantine, although they must be tested before arrival. Source: The Nation, Dailynews

ECONOMICS

  • Airlines increase flights to Thailand – Thai government to organise a welcome event for Chinese tourists. Following the Thai government’s finalisation of travel rules for inbound Chinese tourists, Tourism Authority of Thailand is expecting an influx of Chinese FIT tourists, with the first flight being China’s Xiamen airline set launch its first flight to Bangkok on 9 January.  Other Chinese airlines are exploring direct flights to other cities of Thailand such as Hat Yai and Phuket. TAT expects Thailand to welcome 300,000 Chinese tourists in Q1 of 2023 and 5 million by the end of 2023, with an increase in arrival number of 15-20 percent monthly. Source: Krungthep Turakij, Matichon
  • Economic slowdown – high interest- declining oil price are bringing down inflation to 2.5 percent for 2023. Inflation in December 2022 has increased by 5.89 percent YoY due to increases in fuel and food prices, but declined by 0.06 percent compared to November 2022.  Inflation in 2022 averages at 6.08 percent; the highest in 24 years yet is in line with Ministry of Commerce’s forecast of 5.5 – 6.5 percent. Inflation in 2023 will be fuelled by demands from the returning tourists, however it is expected to significantly decelerate compared to the previous year as commodity and fuel prices begin to stabilise or decline. Ministry of Finance forecasts that inflation for 2024 will be around 2-3 percent. Source: Krungthep Turakij Print Edition, Bangkok Post
  • Government devises new plan to keep Thailand on top of canned pineapple market. Thailand was announced the world’s largest exporter of canned pineapples, holding a 32 percent market share of the global canned pineapple market and earning some 20 billion Baht for the country annually. The government has subsequently drafted a 2023-2027 development plan to support canned pineapple industry and to further increase its production capacity. Source: The Nation
  • Banks are cutting down on staff and 50 percent of the physical branches will be gone by 50% in a move towards Virtual Bank era. The Bank of Thailand (BOT) plans to implement virtual bank regulations by the end of 2023 as it has been studying virtual bank models in several countries. Virtual banks will offer services such as loans in addition to basic financial deposit and withdrawal services. The regulation will also allow commercial bank groups to apply for virtual bank licenses and broaden their business opportunities. Already, banks have closed down 334 physical branches in the first 11 months of 2022. In the next 3-5 years, these physical branches will continue to close down by 50 percent. To this end, the state-owned Krungthai Bank has signed an MoU with telecom operator AIS to invest in a virtual bank. Source: Prachachart Turakij, Bangkok Post

For further information please see the embassy’s Facebook Page ‘Australian Embassy, Thailand’ or the Ambassador’s Twitter Page https://twitter.com/AusAmbBKK

The Australian Embassy Bangkok
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