Thailand likely to produce ethanol for export
According to the National Ethanol Committee, domestic
production of ethanol for export is feasible if Thailand’s prices can be
Manu Leopairot, the Industry Ministry’s permanent
secretary in his capacity as chairman of the committee, said five private
ventures won the body’s approval to produce the fuel commercially on
April 30. These include Pornwilai International Group, TSB Trading,
International Gasohol Corp, Sang Som Group and Thai Nguan Group.
The five companies would have a combined daily output
of 900,000 liters, with the required investment totaling four billion baht.
The production of ethanol for commercial distribution would benefit the
agricultural sector since key raw materials used for making the fuel are
cassava roots and molasses.
Nattapol Nattasomboon, director of the National Ethanol
Committee Office, said the National Energy Policy Office’s current
policy was to only produce the ethanol as a 10% substitute for methyl
tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a fuel additive in 95 benzene octane.
The substitute could allow the MTBE to reduce imports
by one million liters a day, saving three billion baht a year.
“Should the NEPO want to see ethanol as an
alternative fuel and a boost to farm product prices, it must seek ways to
promote use of the fuel,” Nattapol said. “Excise duties and
contribution to the Oil Fund should be exempted. A fund to stabilize
ethanol prices could be set up and the export of the fuel to interested
destinations such as China, the United States and Europe, could be
vigorously promoted,” he said. (TNA)
Amari Hotels and Resorts appoints of two new executives
Kurt Rufli, managing director of Amari Hotels and
Resorts is pleased to announce that Nicholas Labhart has taken over the
position of executive assistant manager at the Amari Palm Reef Resort in
Koh Samui. Labhart has previously held positions at The Hotel and the
Grand National Hotel in Luzern. He graduated from the Swiss Hotel
Management School also in Luzern and is a Swiss national.
Michael Goetz joins the group as the executive
assistant manager of the Amari Orchid Resort in Pattaya. To date, Goetz
has worked at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the Hotel du Rhone in Geneva
and the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva. He has a Bachelor of Science in
Hospitality Management for the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne and is a German
IMF nudges up Thailand’s economic prospects
In a move that is bound to please the government on the
brink of a no-confidence motion, the International Monetary Fund recently
made an upward revision of its economic forecast for Thailand, saying that
the upswing in the global economy would help pull Thailand back on its
Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kuthep Saikrajang
said that the IMF’s April report spoke of a global economy that was
picking up on the back of a US economic revival and lower oil prices, with
world economic growth for the year likely to stand at 2.8 percent rather
than the 2.4 percent predicted last December.
This spells good news for the Thai economy, which was
poised to grow by 2.7 percent rather than the IMF’s earlier figure of 2
percent. The figure nonetheless remains considerably lower than the Office
of Fiscal Economics’ prediction of 3.6 percent growth for the year
Ministers at a recent Cabinet meeting were also shown
the latest copy of the Thai Productivity Report produced by Mackenzie and
Co., detailing how Thailand could upgrade its production efficiency.
Kuthep said that the prime minister has asked the National Economic and
Social Development Board to study the report in more detail. (TNA)
BOI may revise plan to attract foreign investment
The Board of Investment is considering a revision of
its plan to attract foreign investment from around the world by seeking
alliance with China rather than regarding it as a key rival after the
country becomes a member of the World Trade Organization.
Secretary-general Sompong Wanapa said during BOI’s
recent road shows to attract investment from European countries and Japan
he realized that European investors viewed China as a most attractive
investment spot as the market remains very promising.
Japanese investors are still keen to invest in ASEAN
member nations because they want to distribute investment. Most see
Thailand as the top investment base in the region.
China is Thailand’s key rival as an attractive
investment spot since China has a huge population with potentially high
purchasing power. Beijing also has set a policy to open up the country for
more foreign investment. To encourage investment, China’s government
allows foreign investors to invest without having to enter into a joint
venture with local companies and gives special privileges to companies on
a case-by-case basis.
The secretary-general suggested that Thailand follow
China’s lead in giving investors similar privileges and ally itself with
China instead of going head to head as a competitor.
The BOI plans to set up its representative office in
China in the middle of this year to boost investment alliances since the
country is a large market with growth potential.
At the road shows in Europe, Sompong said investors
there remained keen on investing in the production of auto-parts in
Thailand. He added that 170 companies in Japan plan to explore investment
opportunities in Thailand as they see the country as the second most
attractive investment spot after China. (TNA)
Interest rates show ‘no signs of rising’ until mid-2003
Brokers yesterday painted a bleak picture of the year
ahead for bank depositors, warning that deposit rates show no signs of
rising until the middle of next year and could in fact go down due to the
huge amount of liquidity in the system.
Jessada Loha-unjut, managing director of MFC Securities
Co. Ltd., said that as deposits were overflowing the system, while banks
remained wary about granting credit, interest rates looked to stay put
However, interest rates in the bond market will not
necessarily follow those for deposits, as the former depend on market
demand. The government might issue new bonds to encourage a rise in
interest rates in the bond market.
Jessada warned that the securities system could be
jeopardized by misunderstanding on the part of investors, who were
reluctant to invest in existing funds. This could result in a huge number
of small-scale funds, which in turn would lead to high costs. The net
asset value is not as important as the policies of each securities
company, he said. (TNA)
Thailand-Malaysia to sign electricity deal
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
is preparing to sign a deal with its Malaysian counterpart on electricity
exchanges during peak periods.
Chanaphan Kruekdakorn, deputy governor of EGAT’s
policy planning division, said that the contract for phase two of the
bilateral electricity exchange project, which would involve 300 megawatts
of electricity, will be signed this month.
Under the terms of the project, 500 KV electricity
cables would be joined up between Malaysia’s Gurun State and Songkhla in
order that the two countries could exchange electricity during peak
periods which are about two hours apart.
The project will “help to mutually strengthen energy
systems during times when demand for electricity is greatest,” Chamaphan
said, adding that the project has been on the drawing board for several
Signs are also appearing that the long discussed
electricity-sharing project between Thailand and Cambodia might now get
off the ground, with the signing of an MOU between the two parties now
only weeks away.
The deal would mean that Thailand would sell 30
megawatts of electricity to Cambodia, with the two systems linking in
Aranyaprathet. At the same time, Cambodia has hired Thailand’s
Electricity Generating Co. Ltd. to construct a cable system from Siem Riep
and Phra Tabong in Cambodia, and link it up with the Thai grid across the
Chanaphan said that construction is expected to take
about two years, after which Thailand would begin to sell its electricity,
which would be cheaper than that generated inside Cambodia.
Cambodia currently makes most of its electricity from
diesel fuel, and sells it to the public for the equivalent of B10 per
unit. But it is predicted that electricity usage in Siem Riep and Phra
Tabong is likely to soar over the coming years as increasing numbers of
hotels are built to cater to tourists visiting Angkor Wat. (TNA)
Government declares war on intellectual property violations
The government has recently announced a fresh crackdown
on violators of intellectual property rights, warning that anyone caught
violating copyright laws will be subject to immediate and stringent
Speaking after a meeting of metropolitan police
officers to discuss the problem of copyright violations, Somsak
Kiersuranon, chair of the sub-committee for the prevention of intellectual
property violations, said that the police commanders present conceded that
their past efforts to stamp out pirated goods had not always been
successful. Somsak called on the private sector to come to the aid of the
police, saying that copyright owners should inform the police in the 27
police districts in question.
In the future, violators will be dealt with
immediately, and their sentences will be harsher than in the past. Somsak
praised the new assistant national police commissioner, Pol Gen Chitchai
Wannasatip, for his work in battling abuses of intellectual property
rights, saying that 1,000 cases were currently being dealt with by the
The government intends to turn the 27 police districts
whose commissioners attended the meeting into zones free from pirated
Industrial index soars in March
A recent report from the Industrial Economic Office
shows Thailand’s industrial index in March soared to an annual record.
Damri Sukothanang, the office’s director-general, said the index
increased by 17.2% to 171 from that of February, and rose by 9.7% from
that of the same month the previous year, the highest in one year.
The product delivery index stood at 172.1, a sharp rise
of 17.3% from that of the previous month and the inventory index was
144.5, an increase of 6% from that of the month before.
Damri said, “The industrial index has reached its
highest point since March last year because most producers began to
produce more goods to accommodate increased export orders and local sale
as well as higher purchasing power among local consumers.”
The beer output index in March soared by 49.6% since
breweries increased production to accommodate the expected higher demand
in the Songkran Festival in April.
The automobile industry index surged 47.85% because
automakers raised production as a result of a clear signal of recovery in
the export and local markets.
The index for cement and plaster production increased
19.6% because of higher demand for the product and declined stocks.
Other indexes that increased in March included
electronic tube and components by 23.2%, weaving by 23.3%, and canned
seafood by 16.9% while the index for petroleum products declined due to a
halt of production by Esso refineries for rebuilding reasons. (TNA)
DEP to organize ‘Made in Thailand 2002’ trade fair
Local manufacturers and entrepreneurs are all welcome
to take part in a trade fair to be organized by the Ministry of
Commerce’s Department of Export Promotion later this year, according to
director-general of the Department of Export Promotion Banpot Hongthong.
The “Made in Thailand 2002” trade fair will be held at the Impact
Exhibition and Convention Center in Muang Thong Thani, Nonthaburi Province
between November 15 and 24.
The annual trade fair’s goal is to help stimulate
economic activities through domestic consumption, he stated. It will also
promote contacts and an exchange of ideas and experiences among local
manufacturers and entrepreneurs, as well as encourage them to develop and
upgrade their product, either in designs, quality, and others, to meet the
international standards, he noted.
Local manufacturers and entrepreneurs are all welcome
to take part in the 10-day trade exhibition,” said Banpot. They can
contact the Department of Export Promotion for further details at tel.
02-511 5066-77, 02-512 0093-0104, fax 02-512 1079, 02-513 1917, or e-mail