Talented guest speaker wows German Language Business Club members
The monthly meeting of the German Language Business Club
held early in January at the Benjarong Restaurant of the Royal Wing in the
Royal Cliff Beach Resort was buzzing with interest as Belgian Stefaan de Vos,
site manager for Bayer Polymers in Maptaput, was the guest speaker for the
de Vos and his wife Dorothea (standing center) surrounded by members of the
German Language Business Club pose for a photo before the business lunch at
the Benjarong Restaurant of the Royal Wing in the Royal Cliff Beach Resort.
Guest speaker De Vos is a talented linguist and speaks
fluent German, Latin, Thai, English and French. He explained that soon after
his arrival in Thailand he studied at the Institute of Business
Administration at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Stefaan de Vos is
married with three children and his wife, Dorothea de Vos, is a well-known
The topic of De Vos’ address was his company, Bayer
Polymers, which is a fusion of the former business fields of synthetics,
rubber and varnish raw products, dyestuff and special departments of Bayer
Falser Plc. With approximately 23,000 workers with revenue of approximately
11 million euros, the company is considered one of the biggest Polymer
establishments in the world. Almost 10,000 products of his company are being
produced in Asia, part of it in Maptaput with 672 workers.
The Thai German Chamber’s number two man, Stefan
Buerkle, spoke after De Vos, telling about all the important events and
highlights the German Chamber went through last year. He also promised that
there will be a regular Chamber consulting day held in Pattaya in the near
The next lunch meeting of the German Chamber of Commerce will be held on
February 15 and another very interesting guest speaker is already planned.
Unemployment could reach 1 million in 2003
The number of jobless is likely to reach one million this
year, which could impede the country’s economic growth, according to Thai
Farmers Research Center (TFRC). Thailand’s leading think tank said the 5
sectors in which there are a large number of unemployed include agriculture,
the manufacturing industry, construction, wholesale and retail, hotels and
The high unemployment could become a risk factor that
undermines the country’s economic expansion unless the government can come
up with new measures to cope with it. To sustain economic growth, TFRC
suggested the government should apply the following measures to stimulate
First, it should come up with a new economic stimulus
package to create new jobs in the medium and long term.
Second, it should prepare for the return of a large
number of Thai workers overseas as a result of the economic slowdown in many
countries and a possible war between the United States and Iraq.
Third, it should step up efforts to comprehensively solve
the illegal alien labor problem ranging from illegal immigration, kickbacks,
and protection by influential persons. Local and expatriate business owners
must be urged to employ local people to reduce the number of jobless.
Fourth, TFRC says the government should initiate new
mega-projects to create new jobs for the unemployed.
Fifth, it should accelerate seeking new export
destinations to increase employment in that sector and related ones.
Finally, regular training should be given to those
workers who have been retrenched so that they can learn how to set up their
own business. (TNA)
Rice exports could face tough year
As the world’s top rice exporter Thailand could face
another tough year in 2003. With its large surplus of stocks, key
competitors are threatening to keep prices steady despite high demand from
countries hit by destructive El Nino weather patterns.
Vichai Sriprasert, president of the Thai Rice
Exporters’ Association, said China and India have signaled they may
undercut Thai exports to key Southeast Asian markets. He explained that
their vast surplus stocks and price subsidies for ricer growers in the
United States could prevent prices from rising. “Those are factors that
could cap world prices in 2003,” said Vichai.
“China, one of Asia’s major rice exporters, with a
population of 1.3 billion, is thought to have a huge surplus stock of 70
million tons. China has the potential to export massive supplies of rice,”
However since the Chinese government does not have a
track record of giving top priority to rice export, this gloomy scenario
remains to be seen.
Vichai said India will continue to be a key exporter in
2003, but export volumes could be less than last year because of a reduced
crop and lower state subsidies.
India emerged as a major international supplier and took
over from Vietnam as the world’s number two rice exporter in 2002,
exporting around six million tons compared with less than two million tons
shipped in 2001. (TNA)
Privatization plans still on track for state-owned enterprises
According to a recent statement Thailand’s Finance
Ministry has not received any instructions to delay or postpone the
privatization plans of state-owned enterprises or any liberalization tasks
currently in progress.
The State Enterprise Policy Office’s deputy director
general Areepong Phuchaum said that his office has not had any contact with
the committee which reviewed the 11 economic laws implemented in 1997 as
preconditions to receiving IMF assistance during the Asian financial crisis.
There has also been no final word from government policy makers.
The special committee for the revision of the 11 economic
laws submitted a recommendation to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
suggesting the government halt the privatization plans of state-run firms
until a clear picture on the amendments has been acquired.
The privatization scheme is in progress and the state-run
firms that are going to be listed in the capital market include TOT Corp and
the Airport Authority of Thailand, which are waiting for proper the timing
to enter the stock market.
The state-run firms that have not been transformed to
limited companies are now undergoing ‘an incorporating process’,
covering the organization restructuring, administrative reformation and
mapping up of long-term business expansion plans.
Finishing the crucial processes will lead to a
capital-raising plan in the country’s capital market. At that time it is
expected that the government will have a clear picture on how much capital
is needed for each firm.
State-owned enterprises with plans to list in the Stock
Exchange of Thailand (SET) are ready to move forward with the listing plans
and are just waiting for the most suitable timing.
Areepong said that the state-run firms’ privatization
has nothing to do with the government’s International Monetary Fund (IMF)
debt repayment plan. “In the letter of intention Thailand made to the IMF
there was no clause on this issue and there have been no statements on the
time frame of state-run firms’ privatization,” he said.
Areepong said state-owned firms which plan to list their
shares on the SET in 2003 include Krung Thai Bank, Siam City Bank, Thai
Airways International (THAI), TOT Corp, Communication Authority of Thailand
(CAT), the Airports Authority of Thailand Company, Port Authority of
Thailand and the National Housing Bank.
TC Auto Care opens in Pattaya
Pairat Suthithamrongsawat cuts the ribbon to officially open the new TC Auto
Care Center in Pattaya, as Theera Ritkreangkai (wearing tie), president and
managing director, looks on.
Energy Policy office says
oil price hikes won’t hit
Fears of a hike in electricity charges as a result of
increased world oil prices are unfounded according to the Energy Policy
Office (EPO). EPO director Metta Bantherngsuk stated that although world oil
prices have edged up, only 2 percent of Thailand’s electricity needs were
generated from oil and 0.24 percent was generated from diesel.
The fuel transfer charge levied on fuel used to generate
power has also not increased from the current 21.95 satang a liter. Metta
said the FT charge was reviewed every four months and the next review of the
FT charge would only take place at the end of January.
Most of the fuel used to generate Thailand’s
electricity is natural gas (73 percent), lignite (15.58 percent), hydro
power (5.98 percent), and 2.26 percent of the total amount of electricity
consumed is purchased from neighboring countries.
>From December 2002 to the beginning of to January
2003 fuel prices rose; on January 7, 2003 for benzene 95 standing at 16.79
baht a liter, benzene 91 at 15.79 baht a liter and diesel at 14.59 baht a
liter. World oil prices have risen due to fears of war in the Middle East as
well as a strike which has paralyzed the Venezuelan oil industry. (TNA)
No need to intervene in
baht movement, says BOT
Bank of Thailand’s governor, M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula
is again stressing that the central bank sees no need to intervene in the
baht movement for now, saying the local currency remains stable.
He said the baht had still appreciated in a reasonable
and acceptable level partly because the dollar had significantly weakened on
the back of economic uncertainties in the United States.
The BOT governor said the baht has become stronger in
accordance with other regional currencies; however the central back will
continue to closely monitor and supervise the baht movement.
Given affected factors and conditions, the BOT views it
unnecessary for the moment to intervene or take any particular action to
lessen the stronger baht. What the bank wants to do now was to supervise the
baht to curb severe fluctuation and ensure it moves in line with the market
Analysts upbeat for year 2003
Economic analysts are predicting that Thailand’s
economy will continue to grow providing the government tackles some issues
that have been dragging out. The National Economic and Social Development
Board (NESDB) projects a conservative growth forecast for this year of 4.0
to 4.5 percent.
The cautious prediction takes into consideration one of
the downside risks the economy faces this year. Although Thailand’s export
has been a big contributing factor the economy will probably not be boosted
by outside capital.
There is a possibility that Thailand’s trade balance
could, in the near future, turn negative. Imports have risen from US$12.9
billion (558 billion baht) in the second quarter of last year to $18.2
billion in the third quarter and then in October 2002, to $15 billion, and
have definitely contributed to growth. The downside may be that this growth
may come at the expense of the trade balance if import demand continues.
The possible trade deficit is not necessarily a negative
outlook since industrial productivity has been rising steadily, increasing 4
percent in the first quarter, 7.8 percent in the second and 10.6 percent in
If the import of capital and rise in industrial
productivity work in tandem the imported capital can be used effectively.
This scenario allows the economy to achieve promising levels and can signal
sustained growth for the country.
There is more good news on the horizon. Thailand will,
after careful deliberation, pay back its IMF debt earlier than scheduled.
There is also the completion of the Thai Asset Management Corp’s task of
restructuring 338.05 billion baht of non-performing loans, (NPLs) left over
from what was a total of 717.65 billion baht.
Thailand also has sustained its political stability and
friendly investment climate. In all the analysts are optimistic that 2003
could be a year of continued and sustained economic growth. (TNA)