Vol. XI No. 23
Friday 6 June - 12 June 2003

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by Parisa Santithi


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Finance Ministry assures strong baht not yet hurting exports

Japanese keen on investing in Thai SMEs

Lack of computer use hampers Thai businesses

PTT predicts fuel demand will exceed supply

Fair Properties opens their second branch office

Bechtel/Sinopec Engineering/Foster Wheeler Consortium implements $4.3 billion petrochemical project in southern China

Poultry firms further limit chicken supply to market

Japan grants GSP for more Thai products

Cold climate mushrooms cultivated for export

Central bank admits to baht intervention

Finance Ministry assures strong baht not yet hurting exports

Finance Minister Suchart Jaovisidha is assuring exporters that the strong baht is unlikely to be a hindrance to exports for the near future.

Traders anticipated the Bank of Thailand (BOT) will intervene to avoid the strengthening of the baht and its negative impact on the country’s economic growth.

The US dollar has been reeling from the slowing US economy and the sell-off of dollar contracts by global fund manager George Soros.

Thailand’s economic growth is largely dependent on exports and domestic consumption. Export and industry analysts have been concerned about the strengthening of the Thai baht against the US dollar.

"The weaker dollar is a result from heavy selling. However, it is not weak enough to create any adverse effect at the moment," said the finance minister.

Suchart conceded that if the dollar becomes too weak it will have some impact on the world economy, particularly the economy of European countries. He added that Soros, who had been offloading his dollar accounts, has predicted that the weak dollar could do serious damage to European economies.

Suchart admitted that a stronger baht could raise the price of Thai goods. "But it will also help lower the price of imported oil" he said.

Japanese keen on investing in Thai SMEs

A recent investment road show in Japan revealed many small- and medium-size enterprises in Japan have shown interest in boosting investment and trade with Thai counterparts, according to the Board of Investment’s chief.

Board of Investment (BOI) secretary general Sompong Wanapa said, "Many Japanese investors would like to invest, particularly in Thailand’s automobile and electronics industries. It is possible more than 100 SMEs could decide to follow major investors in shifting their investment to Thailand this year."

Discussions with potential Japanese investors revealed the epidemic of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has renewed their interest in investing in Thailand after they had previously focused investment on China.

The BOI chief said meetings with several major electronics operators in United States also proved fruitful, saying they showed interest in shifting their production base, particularly for hard-disk products, to Thailand. To give the investors confidence, BOI said it might need to plan a road show in the US again. (TNA)

Lack of computer use hampers Thai businesses

Thai businesses are not growing as fast as they should due to an extremely low level of computer and information technology use, with nearly 46 percent of businesses surveyed failing to use computers in their day-to-day operations, according to a recent report published by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).

Thanawan Pholwichai, director of the UTCC’ s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, said that a recent survey of 608 businesses in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces, ranging from small and medium-sized enterprises to large-scale companies, showed that as many as 46.4 percent did not use computers.

Thanawan said that Thailand should focus on product innovation and quality, rather than trying to compete with low prices.

Computer usage in Thailand is extremely low compared to other countries, where the use of computers reduces costs and facilitates communication. Many Thai companies see computers as high initial costs. They also lack skilled personnel and the high budgets needed to train them.

The survey found that in the trade sector 47 percent of companies did not use computers, compared to 31 percent in the service sector and 20 percent in the manufacturing sector. Moreover, most computers were used for data and accounting operations, and few companies had plans to use computers to expand their businesses.

PTT predicts fuel demand will exceed supply

PTT’s president Viset Choopiban recently stated that demand for natural gas among local power producers is likely to exceed its original projection on the back of a continued economic recovery of economy. PTT is Thailand’s largest oil and gas conglomerate and has projected it may not have enough natural gas to supply local power plants in the next two to three years.

"To meet the rising demand for natural gas among local power producers, PTT will speed up its construction of a third pipeline network linking its sources in the Gulf of Thailand to onshore points in the southern province of Songkhla," said Viset.

The investment cost for PTT’s third pipeline is based on a growth of about 3 percent a year for the Thai economy over the next 6 years; however growth has been greater than expected.

PTT’s vice-president Prasert Bunsumpun said PTT’s existing dual main gas pipelines can pipe a maximum of 2,700 million cubic feet daily of natural gas. But if growth continues at its present rate local power producers’ demand is likely to reach 50 million cubic feet daily, a demand higher than PTT can supply.

Prasert projected domestic power producers will continue to use natural gas of around 2,750 million cubic feet daily for fueling their power plants until 2005. Then the industry may need about 1,000 liters of bunker oil a year to fuel their power plants to make up for the shortfall. (TNA)

Fair Properties opens their second branch office

Suchada Tupchai

At the auspicious hour of 9.09 a.m. on May 29 directors and staff of Fair Properties opened their second office on Pratamnak Road in South Pattaya.

At the auspicious hour of 9.09 a.m. on May 29 directors and staff of Fair Properties opened their second office on Pratamnak Road in South Pattaya.

The abbot of Wat Huay Yai, Phra Khru Patrakijviboon blessed the new office under traditional formalities.

Friends, family and business associates turned up to wish the company and its directors well in their new office, presenting flowers and cards of congratulations.

Heading up the religious ceremonies was the abbot of Wat Huay Yai, Phra Khru Patrakijviboon who blessed the new office under traditional formalities.

Fair Properties is owned and operated by Thai and Dutch businesspeople dealing in the huge property market in Pattaya. The company also provides management services as well as sales and rentals of land, houses and condominiums.

The main office is located on Thappraya Road in Jomtien, in front of the View Talay complex. Company representatives said that they aim to provide straightforward service to their clients and have over 10 years experience in the property industry.

Bechtel/Sinopec Engineering/Foster Wheeler Consortium implements $4.3 billion petrochemical project in southern China

BSF, a consortium of Bechtel Petroleum & Chemical of the USA, Sinopec Engineering Inc. (SEI) of China, and Foster Wheeler Energy Limited of the UK recently announced it has been appointed as the project management contractor by CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Company Ltd. (CSPC) for the implementation phase of a world-scale $4.3 billion petrochemicals complex in China’s Guangdong province. The award follows BSF’s successful completion of the project’s 17-month definition phase.

The CSPC Nanhai Petrochemicals Project is the largest Sino-foreign investment in China to date. Located in Daya Bay, Huizhou Municipality of Guangdong province, the greenfield project will involve the construction of an ethylene cracker with a capacity of 800,000 tons per annum (tpa), together with other process units, power generation, utilities and infrastructure. The complex will produce styrene monomer, propylene oxide, ethylene glycol, polypropylene, low-density polyethylene, linear low-density polyethylene/high-density polyethylene.

In total, the complex will produce some 2.3 million tpa of products primarily for the Guangdong province and the high consumption areas of China’s coastal economic zones. The complex is scheduled to start operations at the end of 2005.

Poultry firms further limit chicken supply to market

The poultry industry recently agreed to extend a limit on the supply of chickens to the market for another 10 weeks in hopes of boosting prices.

The decision came in wake of a recent outbreak of the highly infectious bird flu in key competitors China and the Netherlands. Thai chicken exporters now expect greater demand from Europe and Japan in coming months because of the incident.

Worried about a plunge in prices over last two years, the Thai poultry industry agreed in March of this year to cut chicken supply by 15 percent until May 25. That brought production down to 18 million chickens per week.

The Broiler Breeder Association said the measure was introduced to force the export price of chicken up to about $2,200 per ton from $1,150 at the beginning of this year.

The association’s president Sooksunt Jiumjaiswanglerg said, "All the country’s 27 chicken raisers and exporters have agreed to extend the limit for another 10 weeks. We are hoping that the price of export chicken will rise during the second and third quarter of the year."

After the European Union found traces of banned chemicals in Thai shipments and imposed strict testing measures, prices of Thai poultry products fell nearly 30 percent.

Sooksunt said he expected greater demand from Europe and Japan after the bird flu outbreak in China and the Netherlands, where around 25 million birds have been slaughtered. (TNA)

Japan grants GSP for more Thai products

Thai exporters will join with others in developing nations in enjoying Japan’s generalized system of preference (GSP), as Tokyo has announced to grant the GSP for more imported products from the countries.

Director-General of the Department of Foreign Trade Rachane Potjanasuntorn said that the Japanese government has agreed to grant the GSP for more 119 items of products from developing countries. "Thailand is classified as a developing country, so Thai exporters will join their counterparts from other developing countries in enjoying the GSP", he stated.

Tokyo had also granted its GSP for another 198 items of products to the least developed countries.

"For the least developed countries, there will be no import tariffs and quotas for their exports of the 198 items of products to the Japanese market. The products include farm and fishery goods. For developing countries, there will be no quota or quantitative and value ceilings for the farm products. But for industrial products, exporters will enjoy tariff exemption or lower tariffs, with overall imported quota for all countries, called the ‘global ceiling’", Rachane said. (TNA)

Cold climate mushrooms cultivated for export

The Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR) has successfully developed and cultivated 10 species of cold climate mushrooms with nutritional and health benefits for export and domestic consumption.

Dr.Birasak Varasundharosoth, Governor of TISTR said the institute had been conducting research on cold climate mushrooms since 1969. The production, he said, has not only decreased the ratio of imported mushrooms but it also supplies exports to the world market.

The species of mushrooms cultured by the TISTR are Shiitake Mushroom, Button Mushroom, Golden Mushroom, Shimeji Mushroom, King Oyster Mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, Monkey Head Mushroom, Yanagi Mushroom, Nameko Mushroom, and Maitake Mushroom.

After technology for growing Shiitake Mushroom, Button Mushroom, and Golden Mushroom has been transferred to local farmers, consumers can eventually buy mushrooms at the lower prices. (TNA)

Central bank admits to baht intervention

Bank of Thailand (BOT) governor MR Pridayatorn Devakula has conceded that the central bank was intervening in the price of the baht to prevent over-appreciation, ending weeks of insistence that the currency would be left to fend for itself.

Pridayatorn said, "Recently there has been a huge influx of foreign currency into Thailand, flooding in at the beginning of May. The BOT has had to ensure that the baht does not rise too much. It is not yet clear where the influx of foreign currency has come from. It’s possible that the Thai stock market or economy have been seen to improve. But it’s an influx of real money. You can see this from the strengthening of official capital reserves, and the continual increase of the stock market index. These factors in conjunction with the depreciation of the US dollar and the strengthening of the Euro have led to the appreciation of the baht," he said.

However, the central bank maintained that Thailand had retained its competitive edge over neighboring countries, as other currencies in the region were following in the same direction. (TNA)

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