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Asia Pacific’s smartphone market declines by 20% during pandemic

Caitlin Ashworth

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Asia Pacific’s smartphone market declines by 20% during pandemic | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: William Iven
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“The region’s smartphone market was hardest hit in the second quarter when many countries here entered lockdown mode. This was also when we started observing new trends emerging and the corresponding shifts in consumer demand for durable goods.”

People are buying fewer smartphones this year. The once robust and thriving industry has been on a downward slope in the Asia Pacific region with shift in customer demand hitting during the coronavirus pandemic. 13 of the 16 smartphone markets tracked, registered double digit declines. Only Taiwan managed to turn in slight growth.

In January to July 2020, the smartphone market value shrunk by 20% to reach just over USD 119 billion, nearly USD 30 billion less than the same period in 2019. Overall, the region’s consumers bought around 329 million smartphones, 97 million units fewer than 2019.

According to the latest GfK Point of Sales tracking of APAC’s smartphone sector, Taiwan is the only market which managed to still turn in marginal growth of 1%, while the rest of the 15 markets reported wide ranging declines in market value, from the single digit levels seen in Indonesia with -4% and Thailand with -7% to the higher double digit drops reported in India and Singapore, both with -42%.

As the first market affected by the pandemic, China’s smartphone market managed to rebound faster when compared to the rest of the major markets in the region. Its overall sales value in January to July recorded the least impact, at -15%, compared to Korea with -17%, and Japan with -33% and India with -42%.

“The region’s smartphone market was hardest hit in the second quarter when many countries here entered lockdown mode. This was also when we started observing new trends emerging and the corresponding shifts in consumer demand for durable goods,” highlighted Alexander Dehmel, Market Insights Lead APAC at GfK. “Based on the broad range of categories that GfK tracks, consumers started purchasing more products that support at home requirements (work, cook, entertainment), moving away from mobility-related gadgets such as smartphones and wearable devices.”

The onset of the pandemic and its negative impact on the economy did not appear to dampen consumers’ enthusiasm towards 5G smartphones, specifically in China and Korea. GfK’s latest report reflects strong consecutive month-on-month deepening volume penetration of 5G smartphone to reach 51% and 40% in China and Korea respectively in July. The other market in Asia Pacific which registered strong uptake is Hong Kong where over one in every four, or 29%, smartphones sold in July was 5G enabled.

“Although only six markets in the region have begun rolling out 5G services, already one in five (21%) of total smartphone sales across all of Asia Pacific, or nearly 62 million smartphones sold in the first seven months are 5G enabled—driven predominantly by China and Korea,” noted Dehmel. “Aside from the fact that these markets had a head start with the earlier rollout of 5G services, much of the high adoption rate is contributed by the fact that these markets are home to some of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers, offering consumers there first access to the latest 5G mobile devices,” highlighted Dehmel.

Another key observation is that the pandemic has altered consumer spending on smartphones. Findings on the APAC smartphone market from the first half year revealed the rising popularity of models from the entry and low to mid-range segments that offer value features at affordable prices. While the dominant price segment in the region’s emerging markets continues to be USD 100 – 200, which accounted for 56% of total market share, an evident shift is seen in the developed markets from the USD >800 to USD 400-600 price segment.

“We are expecting some recovery in the closing quarter into 2021, under the assumption that the Covid-19 situation improves and remains under control in the local markets,” said Dehmel. “The region’s smartphone market should be back on track to growth by second half of 2021, driven largely by the much anticipated 5G devices that would be progressively launched into the key 5G markets at prices that are more affordable for mass adoption.”

SOURCE: Press Office

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

Economy

Covid-19 shuts down 70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses

Caitlin Ashworth

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Covid-19 shuts down 70% of Phuket’s tourism businesses | The Thaiger
FILE PHOTO

Most tourism businesses in Phuket have closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they probably won’t be up and running again until foreign tourists are let back in Thailand. Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew says around 70% of tourism businesses have closed, most of them just temporarily, but some have shut down permanently.

Before the pandemic, tourism to Phuket brought in 450 billion baht a year with 400 billion baht from foreign visitors while the other 50 billion baht was from domestic tourists. Thailand has been trying to increase domestic tourism to help revive the industry after the pandemic. Phuket’s governor says it helps, but not enough.

“Their visits can help solve some of our economic problems, but they cannot replace the need of foreign tourists.”

66.8% of tourism businesses in Phuket have closed temporarily while 2.8% have closed permanently, according to data by the Digital Economy Promotion Agency. The governor is trying figure out how to recover the economy, fast.

“By the end of September, the number of businesses to be closed will increase up to 70% for sure.”

While many businesses are closed, the governor says Phuket is “almost 100% ready to welcome foreign tourists.” The governor says he can’t give an answer to when foreign tourists will arrive in Phuket, but he claims they’ve “prepared every step,” from checking in at the airport to hotel quarantine. They’re just going to install some new temperature check machines at the Phuket International Airport and review the procedures for welcoming the tourists.

“We have to work and prepare carefully to welcome foreign tourists… We have to gradually open our door to welcome small groups of people first, in order to test our system, and then open for bigger groups.”

At the moment, only 3 venues in Phuket have been approved to operate as alternative state quarantine facilities. Anantara Phuket Suites & Villas has 100 rooms available, Anantara Mai Khao Phuket has 36 villas and Trisara resort has 15 villas.

SOURCE: Phuket News

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Economy

Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment

Caitlin Ashworth

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Ministry of Labour, CP Foods to hire 8,000 graduates to help reduce unemployment | The Thaiger
PHOTO: CP Foods

To help reduce unemployment and boost the economy after the pandemic, 8,000 graduates will be hired by the company Charoen Pokphand Foods, known as CP Foods. Thailand’s Ministry of Labour recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the company.

4,000 of those jobs will be in Bangkok and metropolitan areas while the other 4,000 more in the upcountry. The job offers vary from positions in the computer science field to positions in the culinary industry.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin says the government has a policy to unite all sectors of the society to revive the economy from the coronavirus crisis that caused job cuts, leaving many unemployed, especially new graduates.

He adds that CP Foods has been constantly supporting the government in Covid-19 relief effort since the beginning of the outbreak. This post Covid-19 collaboration will create stability for people at all levels and build more small and medium sized enterprise, or SME, owners that are the foundation of Thai economy.

There’s also a discount coupon giveaway from CP Foods and the minister says it will help reduce cost of living for people who are eligible for social security benefits.

CEO of CP Foods Prasit Boondoungprasert says CP Foods is managed in line with the parent group CP Group’s policy, to solve the Thailand’s unemployment problem, particularly for new graduates, by creating job opportunities and job security. He says it’s an “engine for economic revival.”

CP Foods will also provide a business opportunity for SME franchises like FiveStar and STAR Coffee, which need a small budget and small space to kick off.

The company will also offer training courses with experts to guide them to start up the business. It expects to create 4,500 franchise owners nationwide.

CP Foods will have a book at the Job Expo Thailand 2020 this Saturday until Monday at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centres, or BITEC. Those interested can click HERE for more information.

To learn more about starting a FiveStar franchise click HERE and for a STAR Coffee franchise click HERE.

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Economy

4 Thai banks to be investigated for “suspicious transfers” after FinCEN files report

Caitlin Ashworth

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4 Thai banks to be investigated for “suspicious transfers” after FinCEN files report | The Thaiger
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4 Thai banks are being investigated after an international money laundering report said the Thai banks had “suspicious financial transactions.” The report found 92 “suspicious” transactions in and out of Thailand totalling to $9,558,752 USD received in Thailand and $31,750,000 USD sent out.

Files were allegedly leaked from the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, and journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, or ICIJ, tracked the money. The FinCEN Files report from the ICIJ says it “reveals the role of global banks in industrial scale money laundering,” citing a total of $2 trillion USD in suspicious global transactions from 1997 to 2017.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office plans to investigate Kasikorn Bank, Bangkok Bank, Krungthai Bank and the Export Import Bank of Thailand. The office’s acting secretary general Preecha Charoensahayanont says the office is discussing the report with the Bank of Thailand and financial intelligence organisations, according to the Bangkok Post. He says the information needs to be verified first.

“The information from the media has yet to be verified and no one knows if it came from an official intelligence organisation of the United States… There will be an appropriate response. It does not mean that whenever there is any news report, a big investigation will follow. That would cause panic.”

The Kasikorn Bank allegedly had 37 suspicious transactions, sending out $9,450,000 USD in suspicious funds and receiving $835,606 USD. Bangkok Bank allegedly had 52 suspicious transactions, receiving $5,966,141 USD and sending out $22,300,000 USD. Krungthai Bank allegedly had 2 suspicious transactions, receiving $200,000 USD. Export Import Bank of Thailand allegedly had 1 suspicious transaction, receiving $2,557,005 USD.

In 2016, the Bangkok Bank allegedly sent out $22,300,000 USD to the CIMB Bank Berhad. The Bangkok Bank also allegedly received a total of $5,920,731 USD from the Israel Discount Bank in 45 different transactions from June 2,2013 to November 12, 2013.

Kasikorn Bank allegedly sent out $9,450,000 USD to the DNB Nor Bank Asa. They also allegedly had 18 transactions with the VP Bank AG, receiving $511,606 USD, and 5 transactions 18 transactions with DMS Bank & Trust, receiving $324,000 USD.

Thailand suspicious transaction data by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists FinCEN Files report. Click HERE to follow the money.

4 Thai banks to be investigated for

SOURCES: ICIJ | Bangkok Post

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