Bangkok set to be user-friendly city for women
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will
cooperate with women’s organizations to promote the Thai capital as a safe
and user-friendly city for women, Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said.
Last Wednesday, Apirak signed a cooperation agreement with representatives
from the women’s organizations including the Association for the Promotion
of the Status of Women, the Friends of Woman Foundation, Woman Taxi Drivers
Group, women’s representatives from the Youth Council and the BMA’s
Federation of Senior Citizens’ Clubs to promote Bangkok as a safe city for
The BMA and the women’s-related organizations would also jointly fight
against all types of violence towards women and children, the governor said.
The governor said the BMA has already initiated a “help line” to tackle
problems of violence against women and children.
The Bangkok municipality also observed International Women’s Day by
recognizing outstanding women who take leading roles in varied aspects of
city development, including the environment, community funding, cultural
conservation, social welfare and narcotic suppression. (TNA)
NESDB decreases economic growth projection
The National Economic and Social Development Board
(NESDB) has decreased Thailand’s economic growth projection this year to
4.5-5.5 percent from 4.7-5.7 percent due to fuel price volatility and global
NESDB’s Secretary-General Ampon Kitti-ampon said that the country’s gross
domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of last year expanded 4.7
percent, compared with 5.4 percent in the previous quarter, since higher
fuel prices had pushed up production prices and the inflation rate to 6
Additionally, the Bank of Thailand (BOT)’s Monetary Policy Committee has
raised the policy interest rate, or the repurchase rate, twice by 0.75
percent altogether. This has resulted in commercial banks raising both
lending and deposit rates accordingly.
Ampon said that private consumption in the fourth quarter last year dropped
to 4 percent, from 4.5 percent in the previous quarter, and the private
investment declined to 9.3 percent from 11.6 percent.
Global oil prices last year surged by 46.5 percent to an average of US$49.30
per barrel, from US$33.65 in 2004.
The Thai economy has also been dampened by drought and floods, legacy of
tsunami disaster, bird flu outbreak, trade deficit of US$8.12 billion and a
current account deficit of US$5.86 billion in the first half of the year, as
well as southern unrest and higher interest rates.
With these negative factors, the GDP last year expanded only 4.5 percent.
For this year, NESDB projected that GDP would grow 4.5-5.5 percent, from
4.7-5.7 percent targeted earlier, since global oil prices continue to rise
to US$55-58 per barrel from US$54-55 per barrel as expected earlier.
Also, the global economy might drop to 3.4 percent from 4 percent due to the
United States and Chinese conflicts and the economic slowdown in China and
He said NESDB does not consider an ongoing political turmoil as a main
factor for the GDP growth estimate since it projected the incident would
ease by no later than the middle of this year.
Ampon said the 2006 Thai economy would be boosted by an effective
energy-saving campaign which began last year, an expected export growth of
17-18 percent, and tourism recovery following the inauguration of the
Suvarnabhumi Airport in the middle of this year.
Negative factors that could dampen the economic growth this year include a
persistent oil price rise and trade deficit.
NESDB projected that the country’s exports would grow 15.3 percent to
US$125.9 billion and imports 2.-2.5 percent to US$135.5 billion, resulting
in a trade deficit of US$9.6 billion and US$4 billion this year.
It also forecast that the inflation rate would stay at around 3.5-4.5
percent this year. (TNA)
Thailand bids to promote exports of safe chicken and shrimp
The Ministry of Commerce will invite trading partners
from Europe and the Middle East to inspect chicken and shrimp production in
Thailand in May, with an objective to boost export of the two products, said
a senior ministry official.
Chantra Purnariksha, director general of the ministry’s Department of Export
Promotion said that the plan came after 46 countries outside the European
Union (EU) had imposed an import ban on poultry from France following an
outbreak of bird flu.
For example, Saudi Arabia, which formerly imported approximately 80,000 tons
of poultry from France annually, has lowered its imports, giving Thailand an
opportunity to export its boiled or cooked chickens to EU member countries
and the Middle East, said Chantra.
Thailand’s trading partners in Europe and the Middle East would be invited
to inspect production and processing of chicken and shrimp in Thailand in
May so that they would have full confidence that the products are free of
avian influenza and toxic chemical residue problems, she said.
The Livestock Development Department is expected to announce that Thailand
has eliminated its bird flu outbreaks in the country and once the
announcement comes out, it should help boost more exports of Thai boiled
chickens, she said.
In a bid to further promote boiled chicken exports, operators of chicken and
shrimp processing companies are scheduled to visit Japan sometime this month
and April, she added. (TNA)
Economy-related agencies urged
to be active in promoting Thai exports
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister
Somkid Jatusripitak instructed officials of all economy-related state
agencies to be active in promoting Thailand’s export policy and supervising
people’s costs of living.
“We want every official to devote himself or herself to perform their duty
to the utmost.”
Speaking with senior officials of all state agencies under his supervision
at a meeting to assess the current political situation, he said although the
political tension still persists, they must perform duties to the utmost to
promote exports and oversee living costs of people.
He said the Department of Export Promotion had been instructed to coordinate
with Thailand’s representative offices in every region to promote exports on
a continual basis.
“We want every official to devote himself or herself to perform their duty
to the utmost. There should be no delays in any projects,” he said.
Dr. Somkid said the Department of Trade Negotiations had been ordered to
pursue trade negotiations with members of regional intra-trading groups.
However, the talks should be postponed if they involve negotiations at an
He said senior officials of the Commerce Ministry had also been ordered to
strictly monitor and supervise prices of products, particularly sugar, to
ensure that costs of living have only a minimum impact on people.
The caretaker deputy premier said the National Economic and Social
Development Board (NESDB) had made a sound projection for the economic
growth this year despite the heating political situation.
“Should all people want to see the Thai economy grow steadily, they must
help keep peace and order in the country,’’ he said. (TNA)
2006 trade deficit projected
at nearly US$6 billion
Thailand’s exports in 2006 are projected to continue to
grow and meet the target of 17.5 percent, while imports are to rise
approximately 15 percent, which would bring the economy to a trade deficit
of about US$5.7 billion, according to a Ministry of Commerce forecast.
The value of exports in 2006 is projected at US$130.3 billion, up 17.5
percent from 2005, due to continued expansion of global trade and an
assertive trade strategy adopted by the government.
Exports of electronic goods and spare parts will be the major driving force
in boosting this year’s exports, while exports of agricultural goods will
also rise on the back of an expected decline in global agricultural
production of between 4-5 percent due to natural calamity.
Thailand is expected to ship more tapioca, rubber and maize this year, the
Higher prices for crude oil on the world market have been forcing down local
demand in early 2006, due to economic expansion in China and key
industrialized countries. It is anticipated that Thailand’s imports of crude
oil this year would drop 10 percent from last year to not more than 765,000
barrels per day.
Imports of steel, machinery and spare parts are also projected to rise this
The value of this year’s imports is projected at US$136 billion, an increase
of 15.2 percent from last year, which would make Thailand face a trade
deficit of approximately US$5.7 billion for the year 2006. (TNA)
Thai banks deny loan
cancellation to Temasek
Sources at two Thai commercial banks confirmed that the
banks jointly gave a Bt30 billion (US$750 million) loan to Singapore’s
Temasek Holdings to buy half of the shares in Shin Corp owned by the family
of caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and dismissed rumors that
they have canceled the transaction.
An official at Siam Commercial Bank, who did not wish to be identified, said
Temasek Holdings representative firm in Thailand has already withdrawn the
funds from the bank.
The source said the Singaporean investment firm has purchased half of the
shares from Shin Corp by paying Bt40 billion out of its own pockets before
it could secure another Bt30 billion from Siam Commercial Bank and Bangkok
Bank to complete the purchase.
The share sale has drawn strong criticism from the Thai public and some
protesters have taken to streets demanding that Thaksin resign and face an
According to Kosit Panpiemrat, executive chairman of Bangkok Bank, Temasek
Holdings has already taken Bt15 billion from the bank and there was no
cancellation of the investment arrangement, as is rumored. (TNA)
Senate panel calls on Singapore
to probe Shin Corp dealings
The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee has called on
Singapore to investigate the controversial sale of Shin Corp shares to the
island republic’s state-owned investment firm Temasek Holdings.
The tax-free stock sell-off in the telecommunications conglomerate by
caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s family has fuelled
anti-government opposition and sparked a political crisis in Thailand.
Concerns over the 73 billion baht Shin Corp sale have been raised by Senate
committee chairman Kraisak Choonhavan.
Senator Kraisak called on Singapore’s parliament president and prime
minister to investigate the alleged lack of transparency surrounding the
Shin Corp stock sale to Temasek.
A seminar on the Shin Corp issue was organized by the Senate Foreign Affairs
Committee at parliament.
Among those attending were representatives of foreign chambers of commerce,
including Britain, Israel, India, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Sweden and South
Also discussed were the growing calls for the caretaker prime minister to
resign, as well as the boycott being staged by the three former main
opposition parties of the snap general election called by Thaksin for April
Caroline Stockmann of the Thai-British Chamber of Commerce said the foreign
community had been considerably concerned over the past weeks’ political
Foreign investors did not want to see violence erupting in Thailand as a
result of the political tension surrounding the caretaker prime minister,
she said. (TNA)
Commerce Ministry projects furniture export to grow at least 10% this year
The furniture export is projected to grow no less than 10
percent to US$1.5 billion in value with ASEAN being an attractive
destination, according to the Commerce Ministry.
Speaking after presiding over the 2006 Thai Furniture and Construction
Service Business Exhibition Fair during March 8-12, Deputy Commerce Minister
Preecha Laohapongchana said the Export Promotion Department joined up with
the furniture industry club to organize the fair.
The department had invited more than 54,000 businesspersons and clients
around the world to the fair. It is expected the event would attract plenty
of customers from the United States because the country has recently
experienced a natural disaster.
Last year, the furniture export enjoyed a 33 percent growth in the United
States, 25 percent in Japan, and 10 percent in the European Union.
Aside from promoting export in these destinations for this year, the
ministry would attempt to penetrate into the ASEAN market where Thai
furniture is still in great demand.
Preecha said he was confident the organization of the fair would help boost
awareness of Thai furniture products, particularly production skills, in
Asia and the world over. (TNA)
Thailand-China agree to expand bilateral trade
Thailand and China have agreed to expand bilateral trade
to reach US$50 billion annually by 2010.
The agreement was clinched by caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Somkid
Jatusripitak and his Chinese counterpart recently, according to Deputy
Permancent Secretary for Commerce Pisanu Rienmahasarn.
To meet the goal, Pisanu said, Thailand would open trade distribution and
exhibition centers in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, China’s
capital, as well as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Lingyang, Nangjing, Da Lien and
“The centers will not only promote, but also boost sales of Thai products in
China, the world’s largest market in terms of its population of more than
one billion,” he told journalists.
“Among the targeted Chinese cities, Khun Ming in southern China is
considered the most promising market for Thai products and therefore, the
Ministry of Commerce plans to open trade distribution and exhibition there
by the end of this year,” he noted.
The Ministry of Commerce is seeking opinions from the Thai private sector on
proposed strategic policies for the Thai trade centers.
Pisanu said that so far, Chinese investors have not expressed any concerns
over Thailand’s current political turmoil, as they understand that bilateral
trade and investment policies run on a long-term basis. (TNA)
BOT decides to
raise 14-day repo by 0.25%
The Bank of Thailand (BOT)’s Monetary Policy Committee
has decided to raise the policy interest rate by 0.25 percent in a bid to
tame inflationary pressure.
Atchana Waiquamdee, the BOT’s assistant governor, said MPC resolved at its
meeting last week to increase the 14-day repurchase rate to 4.50 percent per
annum, from 4.25 percent, effective immediately.
She said MPC believes that the country’s economic stability is still under
inflationary pressure, although the general inflation rate has begun to
She conceded that the core inflation rate remains high and is likely to
exceed the target level. The actual interest rate is still lower than it
should be by approximately 0.85 percent. Because of this, MPC decided to
raise the repo in order to curb the core inflation rate hike, she noted.
She said the Thai economy continued to grow in the fourth quarter of last
year, albeit at a slower pace, boosted by an export surge.
MPC is of the opinion that the global economy, particularly that of Japan,
the European Union and Asia, has continuously grown at a sound pace. This
enables Thailand’s exports to increase to the target level.
Negative factors such as higher fuel prices, interest rate trends, and
declined confidence in business and investment, remain of concern.
Under the current circumstance, the BOT projected that local investment
might slow since investors need to wait and see a clear direction of
investment in mega-projects. She said the implementation of mega-projects
would contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth this year.
Although the current political tension might delay the project
implementations, it would not affect the BOT’s projection of Thailand’s
economic growth. (TNA)