Finance Ministry Maintains 2023 GDP Growth Outlook28 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - The Ministry of Finance is maintaining its economic growth outlook for 2023 at 3.8%, helped by a rebound in tourism and domestic demand, but exports are still expected to slow down this year.Pornchai Thiraveja, head of the ministry’s fiscal policy office, told a briefing that the Thai economy likely expanded 3.0% in 2022, down from a previous forecast of 3.4%, as exports, public investment and private consumption slowed.Official gross domestic product (GDP) figures for 2022 are due to be released next month. In 2021, GDP grew 1.5%, among the lowest rates in the region.Pornchai also noted that the tourism sector has been picking up steadily as the world relaxes international travel measures.The tourism sector started rebounding last year with 11.15 million foreign tourist arrivals.Since the new year began, Thailand has booked 1.34 million foreign tourists.Pornchai added that the kingdom is expected to receive 27.5 million foreign arrivals this year, up from 21.5 million projected earlier, helped by China’s reopening.The government is projecting at least 5 million Chinese visitors this year, about half of the figure in pre-pandemic 2019.Overall foreign tourist arrivals reached a record of nearly 40 million in 2019, with spending at 1.91 trillion baht (US$58.07 billion). Tourism accounted for about 12% of GDP.However, exports - another key driver of growth - could increase just 0.4% this year, rather than rise 2.5% as projected earlier due to a global slowdown.The ministry meanwhile predicts the baht to average 32.5 per dollar this year after 35.07 last year, as Thailand is among the countries expected to see a continued economic recovery.Pornchai said average headline inflation is expected at 2.8% this year, down from a 24-year high of 6.08% last year, which was far above the Bank of Thailand’s target range of 1% to 3%.
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Govt Confirms 2023 Start of U-Tapao City Development28 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - The government has confirmed that construction on the 290-billion baht (US$8.82 billion) U-Tapao aviation city will begin early this year.Government Spokesperson Tipanan Sirichana said in a statement that the project will generate 15,600 additional jobs in the first five years and drive growth in Thailand’s aviation industry.The investment plan is slated to transform U-Tapao airport into a new international airport linked up with Don Muang Airport and the kingdom’s main Suvarnabhumi Airport.Tipanan added that the public-private project located in Thailand’s industrial east will cover 1,040 hectares and is aimed at attracting tourists.A government website showed that the project, known as "Eastern Aviation City," will also include a free trade zone for cargo, an aviation training center and aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.
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Thailand and EU to Resume Free Trade Negotiations27 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit and EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis announced that the two sides have agreed to relaunch negotiations for a free-trade agreement (FTA) between Thailand and the European Union, with both sides aiming to complete the talks within the first quarter of this year.Jurin described the meeting as "historic" as it was the first time that political representatives of both sides agreed to relaunch free-trade talks. He will now seek the Cabinet’s endorsement to resume trade talks, while Dombrovskis will seek approval from the EU’s 27 member states.This marks a significant step forward for Thailand, which has been seeking an FTA agreement with the European Union for almost 10 years. Negotiations for the FTA were first launched in March 2013 but were put on hold the following year. If the resumed talks lead to an agreement, Thailand will become the third ASEAN country to have an FTA with the EU, after Vietnam and Singapore.The EU is Thailand’s fourth-largest trading partner, after China, the United States, and Japan. Last year, bilateral trade between Thailand and the EU totaled 1.3 trillion baht (US$41 billion), accounting for 7% of Thailand’s total trade.Thailand’s exports to the EU last year totaled 843.3 billion baht, with key export products including computers, computer equipment, and components, gems and jewelry, air-conditioners and components, rubber products, chicken, and electronic circuit boards. Also in 2022, Thai imports from the EU totaled 594.2 billion baht, with major import products including machinery and components, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electrical machinery, and tools.
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TAT to Spend 1.9 Billion for Campaigns to Attract More Tourists26 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to roll out more promotions and increase airline seat capacity, in order to attract more tourists to Thailand.TAT said that it will revise its 2023 tourism revenue target following the allocation of a budget by the government for tourism promotional campaigns on Tuesday. The cabinet approved a total of 3.9 billion baht for promotional campaigns, of which 1.93 billion baht will be used for marketing to help the Thai tourism sector.TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn noted that the new target will be in line with political and economic factors, but the reassessment will put TAT’s target higher than its current target revenue goal of 2.38 trillion baht. One of the issues TAT will focus on will be increasing airline seat capacity. According to the TAT governor, its long-haul marketing campaigns will follow the "ABC strategy", which stands for Airline focus, Big cities and beyond, and Collaboration with agents.In this strategy, TAT will establish partnerships with airlines to increase the number of charter flights connecting potential market cities to the country. The agency will also target countries that have the potential to stimulate spending in their cities through events and roadshows, as well as assist tourism operators in strengthening their business in the international market.TAT will also hold trade shows and roadshows to attract visitors through high-spending tourism trends such as luxury, health, and wellness, or responsible tourism. Target markets include China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and other countries.Meanwhile, the TAT governor added that Krungthai Bank is currently preparing the system for the "We Travel Together" hotel subsidy scheme, which was also approved by the cabinet this week with a budget of 2 billion baht. He added that the campaign might be ready for registration in February, with a travel period that lasts through September 2023.
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Phuket Businesses Brace for Influx of Chinese Travelers24 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - Entrepreneurs on Phuket island are bracing enthusiastically for the long-awaited return of Chinese tourists, hoping that China’s reopening and dismantling of its strict pandemic curbs can boost their flagging businesses.In the year before the pandemic, nearly a third of Thailand’s visitors were Chinese tourists, who once accounted for annual global spending of quarter of a trillion dollars on their travels.Watersports businesses, which offer paragliding, water skiing and other activities, suffered heavy losses during the pandemic, when strict entry conditions and long mandatory quarantine periods kept visitors at bay.With tourism picking up widely in the region from pent up demand and the end of most travel curbs, Asia’s holiday hotspots are welcoming the return of Chinese tourists, who are celebrating the Lunar New Year.The government is expecting at least five million Chinese tourist arrivals this year, with 300,000 in the first quarter.Phuket is expected to get a much-needed payday from a Chinese influx, with the island typically attracting a quarter of Thailand’s annual arrivals.With its economy almost entirely dependent on tourism, many Phuket businesses were crippled by the pandemic.
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BOT Expected to Raise Rates Amid Higher Tourism Growth23 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - The Bank of Thailand (BOT) is expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday (25 Jan) to curb elevated inflation, with further hikes likely even as China’s reopening brightens the economic outlook.While price pressures in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy have been cooling, inflation in December was still 5.89% – well above the central bank’s 1-3% target.21 of 23 economists polled by Reuters expect the BOT to raise its benchmark one-day repurchase rate by 25 basis points (bps) to 1.50% on January 25. The remaining two forecast no change.Thailand, one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations, is expected to receive at least 5 million Chinese tourists and a total of 25 million foreign visitors this year, providing a much needed boost to an economy severely impacted by the global pandemic.The poll showed Thailand’s economy is expected to expand 3.7-3.8% this year and next, respectively, in line with government projections.Nearly 70% of respondents, or 15 of 22, expect another hike of 25 basis points to 1.75% by end-March. Six forecast rates at 1.5% by then, and one said it would still be at 1.25%.The poll median showed that the central bank would then raise borrowing costs by another 25 bps, taking it to 2% by end-September.Poll medians showed inflation would average 2.8% this year and then fall to 1.9% in 2024.
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Commerce Ministry Launches “Farmer to Consumer” App22 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - The Ministry of Commerce has launched an application that promotes direct marketing between farmers and consumers.Deputy Government Spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek disclosed that the application -- known as “MOC Agri Mart” -- will serve as an option for farmers and consumers to sell and buy agricultural products without the need for intermediaries. In addition to direct marketing between consumers and farmers, the app will provide information on community products. It will also promote online pre-orders between farmers and domestic as well as overseas consumers through provincial commerce offices and commercial attach?s. The aim is to effectively address the issue of oversupply for each season.The application is a collaboration between the Commerce Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives under the “Agriculture produces - Commerce markets” scheme. It is expected to help boost export growth and elevate the Thai agricultural sector as the world’s agricultural produce and food hub.Those interested can download the application in Android and iOS for free, or visit the website www.mocagrimart.com for more information.
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Prime Minister Satisfied With Success of BCG Rice Initiative22 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - The Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction with the initial success of the Bio-Circular-Green Economy Model (BCG) rice project, which he said meets the needs of today’s consumers.Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has followed up on the progress of the BCG rice project. The campaign aims to increase rice production while reducing costs, as well as preserve the environment through innovation, water management and farming.The spokesperson added that the first phase of the campaign has received a satisfactory evaluation. It was tested on 10,830 rai of rice farmland across six provinces, with 2,674 farmers joining the program. According to official reports, the project increased rice yields by 27.07% while lowering costs by an average of 38.20%. The campaign is currently in its second phase, with more than ten projects from ten provinces taking part and implementing the success from the first phase.The spokesperson also said the Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction with the success and thanked all sides for developing the campaign. The premier stressed that the success will increase the value of Thai rice and generate more income for farmers. Additionally, he said he hoped that it would serve as a model for applying the BCG concept to other agricultural products, strengthening agriculture in the face of global competition, and developing the Thai economy under the sufficiency economy philosophy.
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Labor Ministry Expresses Concern Over Tourism Staff Shortages20 Jan 2023
BANGKOK (NNT) - The Ministry of Labour expressed concerns about personnel shortages in the tourism industry as Thailand continues to welcome more international travelers.Permanent Secretary of Labor Boonchob Suttamanuswong stated that he has recently met with the Thai Hotels Association (THA), the Tourism Council of Phuket, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) and related agencies to discuss labor shortages in the tourism industry.According to Boonchob, THA has reported that while five-star hotels have enough manpower to welcome guests during the New Year holidays, the three-star and four-star hotels faced personnel shortages which affected their service operations. These agencies expressed their worry since labor shortage remains a big issue as foreign arrivals are increasing in the upcoming days.Meanwhile, ATTA has expressed concerns about the lack of tour guides as foreigners continue to arrive in the country. The association proposed a legal change that would allow foreigners to work as tour guides to alleviate manpower shortages.The permanent secretary stated that, in order to address the issue in the long-term situation, the Department of Skill Development will launch a program to upskill final-year undergraduates studying tourism and hospitality. The department will also work with businesses in the field to hire them upon graduation, providing businesses with skilled employees for the tourism industry.The ministry recently conducted a survey on personnel shortages in the tourism industry and discovered that out of 32,359 businesses in 60 provinces, about 1,817 operators require workers for their businesses, totaling 9,763 people. Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phangnga, and Surat Thani are the top five provinces where workers are in short supply in the tourism industry. Employers are looking for receptionists, porters, waiters, cleaners and housemaids, cooks, kitchen staff, cashiers, and accountants.
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