Protection of local steel industry urged
The government should increase the standard of steel
imports and raise their surcharges to protect the local steel industry
from the impact of dumping from overseas, according to a senior official
at the Steel and Iron Institute.
Vikrom Vatcharakrup, director of the institute, said
the Commerce Ministry needs to closely monitor the import of the steel
after the United States, the European Union, Malaysia, and Mexico issued
measures to prevent the dumping of steel in these countries.
The move, he believed, would make steel exporting
countries focus on seeking new markets, including Thailand, and a dumping
strategy would be adopted to penetrate the markets. Because of this, the
government must come up with additional protective measures other than the
imposition of more surcharges on imported steel.
In particular, it should tighten steel import standards
of the Thai Industrial Standards Institute for various kinds of rolled
steel. Vikrom said, “The dumping of steel products (into Thailand) is
more likely to happen now that the US and EU issued measures to protect
their steel industry. Therefore, the government needs to pay special
attention to the matter to avert the impact of dumping on Thailand’s
steel industry.” (TNA)
Consumer index in March reached six month high
The consumer confidence index of all categories in
March reached its highest level in six months, signaling consumers are
beginning to have more confidence in the economic upturn. However, rising
oil prices and declining exports were a cause of concern that could
undermine that confidence according to Thanavath Phonvichai, director of
the Center of Economic and Business Forecasting of the Thai Chamber of
Thanavath said that confidence in the overall economy
increased to 73.2 points last month from 70.7 in February, in the current
economy to 62.7 from 60.8, and in the future economy (six months ahead) to
83.6 from 80.6.
The figure for future job opportunities stood at 68.1
points in March compared with 67 in February, and for future incomes at
95.1 against 90.6.
The National Economic and Social Development Board
revealed the Thai economy grew at the rate of 2.1% in the fourth quarter
of last year, resulting in the country enjoying economic growth of 1.8% in
2001, higher than the 1.5% as earlier projected. The NESDB also lifted its
economic growth projection this year to 2-3% from 1.3-2.7%.
The expected recovery in the global economy,
particularly that of the United States, is expected to boost Thai exports
and the overall economy.
Thanavath said negative factors that could affect the
index included higher oil retail prices and declines in export receipts by
7.3% in January and 6.1% in February. (TNA)
FTI expresses concern over rising oil prices
The Federation of Thai Industries expressed concern
that rising oil prices would affect the country’s economic recovery and
has asked the government to come up with measures to ease the impact.
Prapat Pothivorakul, who was recently elected as new
chairman, said FTI remains confident the Thai economy will grow 3-5% this
year as the government expects. However, the oil price hike could impede
economic recovery unless the government can assure people that it has
concrete measures in place to deal with the problem.
Prapat said the FTI thinks oil prices will still
fluctuate in the next three months. To protect itself from the price
volatility, the government should seek new sources of oil, particularly in
Asia, to supersede the existing ones and try to keep the local currency
stable at 43-44 baht to the dollar. Should the baht weaken further it is
likely that local oil prices will continue to rise. He said FTI has asked
member producers to try to maintain wholesale prices of products as long
as possible and not to exploit the situation with a price hike because
many producers still have goods in stock.
Meanwhile, Apisit Rujikiatikamchorn, senior executive
vice president of PTT Plc, said local fuel prices are unlikely to increase
further in the short term because prices of oil packages have not yet
changed significantly. (TNA)
BOT chief downplays rising oil prices
Bank of Thailand’s governor, M.R. Pridiyathorn
Devakula downplayed mounting concerns over rising oil prices in the world
market due to renewed violence in the Middle East, saying it would have
little impact on the local economy.
Previously, some academics raised concerns that a
continued increase in global oil prices would more or less impede the
recovery of the Thai economy.
The BOT chief said fuel prices in the world market
remained volatile now because of uncertainties over the situation in the
Middle East. This volatility makes it difficult to conclude whether the
rising oil prices will exceed the level he sees appropriate for the
country’s economic recovery. He needs more time to assess the oil price
He said in the view of the central bank the current oil
prices are at a level that will not negatively impact the nation’s
economy. However, prices are fluctuating in the region.
M.R. Pridiyathorn said what he was more concerned with
was the country’s declining exports in the first two months of this
year. The central bank is ready to cooperate with the government in
boosting exports. It will closely supervise the movement of the currency
exchange to ensure it will not hinder exports.
“We still monitor the baht movement closely and
continuously to ensure its stability so it can contribute to the
country’s export growth,” he said. (TNA)
Thai finance minister says ASEAN growth target depends on U.S. recovery
Yangon, Myanmar (AP) Thailand’s
ambitious economic growth target can be achieved only if the economy of
its biggest export market, the United States, recovers sufficiently, the
Thai finance minister said recently. Other members of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations also require a boost from the U.S. economy to
recover fully from the affects of the 1997 financial crisis, Finance
Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said.
“I think right now ASEAN countries can stand on their
own strength. If the U.S. economy improves, it boosts our recovery,”
Somkid said from Yangon where he was attending a meeting of finance
ministers of the 10-member ASEAN.
“Especially in Thailand, I think the momentum is very
strong now. The fourth quarter (economic growth) reached 2.1 percent
compared to earlier forecasts of 1 percent,” Somkid said.
Thailand’s economy is largely export driven with high
technology products including automobiles accounting for over 60 percent
of Thai exports. Information technology exports to the United States and
Asia total up to 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and
semiconductor exports alone account for 4 percent of the GDP.
Asked about the feasibility of Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra’s target of 3.5 percent economic growth for Thailand in 2002,
Somkid said, “It depends on the U.S. economy. If the U.S. economy
improves, I think we can reach that target.” The United States is the
biggest market for Thai goods, accounting for about 20 percent of its
Somkid gave an upbeat assessment of the region’s
financial situation, saying the public debt is now under control in most
countries. “Most countries in ASEAN are improving, at least three or
four countries expect a balanced budget within a few years,” he said. He
said he didn’t see any factors threatening to derail the region’s
nascent recovery from the global economic slowdown. “I think if we can
be united as one, there’s no risk.”
BOI targets 5 industries for proactive marketing campaign
The Board of Investment (BOI), chaired by Industry
Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, has announced that five key industries
have been identified as “target industries” that will be the focus of
a proactive marketing campaign to attract investment into Thailand.
The five industries - agro-industry, automotive,
fashion, electronics (including information technology and
telecommunications), and high-value services - were identified following
consultations with relevant organizations, such as the Ministry of
Industry and the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) based on comparative
advantages, market potential, and image projected for the country.
Agro-industry is an industry that offers extremely high
potential, with the objective of utilizing fundamental strengths to move
to higher-added-value agro-processing, improving product quality, and
sustainability. Thailand has an abundant supply of many raw materials,
such as rubber, and there is certainly scope to increase and improve
The opportunity within Thailand’s vibrant automotive
industry is to further develop the vibrant parts and component
manufacturing sector for both automobiles and motorcycles. In addition to
producing for end-product assemblers, there is also the potential to
produce replacement parts, not only for Thailand, but also the region.
The electronics industry, which includes information
technology and telecommunications (ICT), is important as it will form the
basis for Thailand’s transition to a knowledge-based economy.
Fashion, particularly the jewelry, garment and leather
sectors, is another industry with tremendous upside potential. The Board
believes by developing product design and building up Thai products and
brands, Thailand has the potential to become the fashion center for the
High value-added services are industries that have the
potential to enhance Thailand’s reputation in the global marketplace.
Examples of these services that are particularly attractive include
long-stay tourism, IT software services, and print houses and printing.
The next step will be to perform an analysis of each
the five industries, taking into consideration factors such as strengths,
weaknesses, competitive situations and support factors, in order to
develop industry-specific marketing programs to encourage investment. The
Board expects that these analyses will be completed by the end of next
EXIM Bank yet to identify cause of export drop
Theera Viphuchanin, acting president of the
Thailand’s EXIM bank, said the overall economy had improved, but
negative growth in exports in January and February was a cause for
concern. He conceded the bank remained unable to identify the exact cause
of the export fall, saying its customers appeared not to be significantly
affected by the decline.
The product price fall in the world market might have
an effect on some farm goods such as frozen shrimp, but that was not the
main cause for the export drop. Neither was the fluctuation of foreign
exchange rates. If the baht moves in the range of 34-44 baht to the dollar
exporters will probably not be seriously affected. Therefore, the bank is
still assessing the exact cause of the export decline during that period.
Theera said, however, the global economy is signaling a
recovery as the major economies such as the United States and Japan are
providing a clearer picture of turnaround. Other key economies in Asia
including South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, have also picked up.
He suggested that exporters adjust their business to
meet the needs of trading partners, most of which are developed countries,
by improving product quality to meet international standards. He added
that they must avoid child labor abuse and using raw materials that are
mixed with substances hazardous to consumers.
He also warned local exporters to keep a watch on China
which could grab market share from Thailand as the country enjoys cheaper
labor costs and more abundant raw materials. (TNA)
Survey says Thailand’s investment promotion strategies rank top in SEA
Thailand’s investment promotion strategies are most
favored among foreign investors, compared to those of other countries in
Southeast Asia and China, according to a survey conducted by Assumption
University. Investors polled also considered the quality of Thai labor the
best in the region as well.
Interviews were conducted with 571 foreign investors on
a random basis. Those questioned also voted Thailand as the friendliest
country in the region. For such areas as raw material adequacy and
potential of marketing growth, Thailand was ranked second after China.
The ABAC survey asked the investors’ opinions in 20
areas. Singapore was ranked top in the areas of business management,
infrastructure, security in life and assets, quality of life, political
stability, and good governance.
More than half of the investors were satisfied with
Thailand in such areas as food prices, people’s quality of life,
attitude of Thai colleagues, attitude of Thai workers, infrastructure,
convenience in traveling, facilities fees, security in life and assets,
people’s freedom, political stability, tax rates, business management
and quality of local business partners, potential of business expansion,
benefits and allowance for foreigners to own businesses, contract
commitment, inflation rates, availability of capital, market size and
growth, and economic stability.
The investors, however, saw Thailand’s traffic and
pollution problems the worst in the region. They also ranked Thailand at
the second worst place in corruption, red-tape and bureaucracy problems. (TNA)