Thai private sector urges peaceful resolution, negotiation

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BANGKOK, Dec 2 – Thailand’s leading business sector representatives today called for resolution of the country’s escalating political conflicts through dialogues and respect for laws and democratic regulations.

The private sector network, in a joint statement released after an urgent meeting, said the current political disputes have severely inflicted economic and social consequences, and affected investors’ confidence on trade, industry, consumption, tourism and domestic investment.

Isara Vongkusolkit, president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said continued confrontations could lead to severe destruction of peoples’ lives and property.

Attending today’s meeting were representatives of the Federation of Thai Industries, Thai Bankers’ Association, Tourism Council of Thailand, Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, Stock Exchange of Thailand and Thai Listed Companies Association.

Mr Issara said the private sector would be willing to join others, including educational institutions, the media and private institutes in finding resolutions for Thailand’s impasse based on the principles of law and justice.

The private sector is ready to support negotiations between all factions, or become part of the process for the sake of the people and the nation, said the statement.

Mr Isara said the private sector disagreed with using force to solve the problems and called on conflicting parties to refrain from setting conditions in their political manoeuvring.

He said a pre-election solution among related and well-accepted factions will be necessary and the private sector wanted all parties to be more cautious with the country’s reputation and credibility in the international community, or it could be classified as a failed state.

Piyamarn Techapaibul, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said 33 countries have warned their people against travelling to Thailand.

The warning is at level 2 but the number of tourists could diminish by 8-10 per cent, or about 500,000 people if the warning is upgraded to level 5, she said, adding revenue from tourism could drop by Bt25 billion from projection.

It was originally projected that 21.6 million tourists will visit Thailand this year, generating a total revenue of Bt1.18 trillion.

Paiboon Nalintrangkura, president of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, said foreign investors sold their stocks at a total value of Bt17 billion last week and at more than Bt50 billion last month.

The total sales of Thai stocks this year was Bt150 billion mainly due to internal disputes, he said, predicting continued sales by foreign investors if the political situation does not improve.

Thailand’s economy may grow at only 2 per cent this year, and next year’s growth, originally projected at 4-5 per cent, may drop to only 3 per cent if the disputes continue, he said.

Charamporn Jotikasthira, the Stock Exchange of Thailand president, said Bt45 billion capital has flowed out of the Thai bourse since the political dispute started on October 30.

The outflows will possibly continue due to political uncertainty, he said.

Chatsiri Sophonpanich, president of the Thai Bankers Association, said commercial banks started to reduce interest rates in accord with a decision by the Monetary Policy Committee, and the global and domestic economic condition.