Thai private sector urges talks to end political impasse

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BANGKOK, March 4 – Seven leading private organisations have called for a government and protester dialogue to resolve the political stalemate which, they said, has damaged Thailand’s economy to the tune of Bt240 billion in losses.

Isara Wongkusolkij, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand, said a meeting of seven private organisations agreed to sincere, unconditional negotiations, bearing in mind the national interest and the people’s unity.

He said the months-long conflicts have led to losses of life, including children and innocent people, and property, as well as severely damaged the economy especially among small- and medium-sized business operators, farmers and workers.

These groups of people cannot tolerate long-standing losses and the political unrest has also affected investor confidence, Thailand’s competitive edge and opportunity in the regional community, he said.

Payungsak Chartsutipol, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said Thailand’s economic growth, originally projected at 4-5 per cent, would be only 2-3 per cent.

Thailand has lost over Bt60 billion of business revenue since December, he said, adding that a dialogue would be a positive sign to find resolution for Thailand.

Piyaman Techapaiboon, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said tourist arrivals in the first two quarters of the year would probably drop to 1.7 million people, or 6 per cent of the projected 29.9 million visitors for the year.

The financial loss is estimated at Bt82 billion but it is hoped that the tourism situation will pick up in the last two quarters, she said, calling on the government to urgently revoke the state of emergency which has negatively impacted Thailand’s image.