Advance Blog

August 7, 2020
Australian Embassy

Headlines summary as of 7 August 2020

News

  • Updates related to COVID-19:
    • Today, Thailand reports 15 newly confirmed case, a total of 3,345 cases. Out of the total number, 3,148 have been discharged from hospital (at 94.11%); 139 are being hospitalised. The death toll is at 58. The newly confirmed cases are Thai nationals returned from Egypt (4); Saudi Arabia (10); and Japan (1) and have been in state quarantine since. This is the 74th consecutive day that there is no local transmission in Thailand.
  • Their Majesties the King and Queen will hold an event in the Grand Palace on 12 August to celebrate the birthday of the Queen Mother.—all media outlet

Politics

  • After the King’s endorsement of the new cabinet line-up, the PM justified the portfolio with the press this morning. As for the Foreign Minister Don who will also serve as Deputy PM, the PM said he plans to ‘upgrade’ the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cover on business and economic aspects in response to the COVID-19 effects. The PM plans to have the former diplomat Don to do PR on EEC or investment incentives. As for the Deputy Labour Minister Narumon, the PM said he is planning to have Labour Ministry as the other economic Ministry.–Matichon
  • Reuters summarised Thai politics since 2014 military coup.–Reuters
  • The Free People Movement held a press conference this morning announcing that they are going to hold a mass gathering on 16 August from 3.00-9.00pm. They are reiterating their 3 main propositions: drafting a new Constitution; dissolution of the Parliament; and stop harassing the protestors. The organisers said that the gathering does not aim to plan for prolonged gathering. The organiser said should the vocal human rights lawyer Anon who openly questions the current monarchy status which is getting beyond the constitutional monarchy regime want to join the demonstration, he is welcomed to.
  • The by-election in Samut Prakan’s constituency 5 is set to be held on this Sunday. PPRP is set to re-secure the seat as two largest opposition Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties both file their candidates.—Thai Rath
  • Four large parties are testing the water for the expected Bangkok gubernatorial election: Pheu Thai with a disarray of who might be the candidate; Democrat with Police Chief Chakthip; PPRP with a candidate team, potentially Watanya Wongopasi or Taya Teepsuwan as the head; and Move Forward with Ariya Banomyong.–Prachachart

Opinion:

  • The fragility of Prayut Regime: many academic studies have described Prayut regime with two significant characteristics; namely, the military holds the hegemonic roles while weakening other political institutions and the military is joining hands with conglomerate to take the lead. However, the author sees that the Eastern Tiger faction in the army which is the power base for the current leadership is fading from the top Army positions. With this and the lesser political capital within the main ruling PPRP, the Prayut regime is getting more and more fragile each day.—Matichon Weekly

Business:

CPTPP

  • Director-General Auramon of Trade Negotiations Department, Commerce Ministry informed the Cabinet that Thailand had not applied for CPTPP membership at the 5th August annual CPTPP member meeting and would have to wait until next August’s meeting to apply.  The parliament-appointed CPTPP Committee supports the view that Thailand will join CPTPP when it is ready, considering that its study will not conclude until 30 September.  Source:  https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30392552
  • Members of the TPP at the 5th August meeting postponed discussions over Thailand joining the trade bloc as deliberations on the Thai side faced delays amid political uncertainties.  These include former DPM Somkid’s resignation, the appointment of the new economic team and the delay in the results of parliamentary committee’s CPTPP studies.  Moreover, other TPP members such as Chile, Brunei, Malaysia and Peru have hit delays in ratifying the trade agreement as those governments prioritize their response to the coronavirus.  Source:  Asia Nikkei Review

Others

  • Thailand’s July headline inflation reported a drop of 0.98 percent YoY.  Despite being the fifth straight month of decline, July’s contraction had slowed from -1.57 percent in June, -3.44 percent in May (the biggest drop in nearly 11 years) and -2.99 percent in April as the economic activities started resume following the easing of the lockdown.  Inflation for the first 7 months of this year is -1.11 percent.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • At an event marking Bangkok Post’s 74th anniversary, entitled Bangkok Post Forum 2020: Thailand Rebounds, Policy in the ‘New Normal’, PM Prayut affirmed that the government is pursuing remedial measures to revitalise the domestic economy, assist SMEs and promote export and tourism to ensure GDP will not drop below -10 percent.  He also urges Thais to unite to move the country past the economic crisis and restore investors’ confidence in the Eastern Economic Corridor, Southern Economic Corridor and other special economic zones.  He noted that Thailand’s agricultural sector needs to be upgraded and export structure must be adjusted to meet the needs of global market.  Source: Bangkok Post
  • Thai airlines will seek a meeting with PM Prayut to ask for the 25-billion-Baht soft loans that have been delayed since March in the absence of a finance minister.  During these 4 months, airlines struggles and some, such as Nok Scoot, inevitably exited the market.  Airlines will also propose the government extend relief measures for an additional six months from September, such as excise tax cut for jet fuel.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (Osmep) is looking for new financing sources for its 50-billion-Baht SME Fund since it is likely to miss out on funding from the government’s 400-billion-Baht economic and social rehabilitation budget due to legal complications.  The SME Fund is envisaged as a channel for SMEs to access soft loans to survive the pandemic.  Source:  Bangkok Post
  • Finance Ministry’s Public Debt Management Office affirms that the USD1.5 billion borrowed from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) comes with favourable conditions.  The borrowing is part of the government’s plan to borrow 1 trillion Baht to revive the economy.  Source:  https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1964135/pdmo-applauds-terms-of-1-5bn-extended-by-adb
  • PM Prayuth’s government had handed key positions in the energy and finance departments to former executives in a state-owned company and a commercial bank after sacking the economic team headed by former DPM Somkid.  Among the incoming leaders are Supattanapong Punmeechaow, former president and CEO of state petrochemical enterprise PTT Global Chemical, who will become a deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister. Predee Daochai, previously a Kasikornbank co-president, will become the Finance Minister. Although Somkid’s team had been praised for its expertise in economic policymaking, it failed to address sloppy management of state enterprises. It is hoped that Supattanapong, with his background in managing a government enterprise, will be able to lead his team to implement reforms in the state sector.  Source:  Asia Nikkei Review
  • The Codex Alimentarius Commission has approved several food-related standards that could affect farmers and food manufacturers in Thailand.  The Codex meeting, held from 13-21 July, approved Good Hygienic Practices (GHP) for food manufacturing and has adjusted the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).  The National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards has therefore revised its agricultural commodity and HACCP standards and make the necessary adjustments to comply with international requirements.  Source: The Nation
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