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Commerce Ministry will appeal US GSP decision

Jack Burton

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Commerce Ministry will appeal US GSP decision | The Thaiger
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Thailand will ask the United States to reconsider removal of trade preferences for Thai exports under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In the past, whenever trade benefits for Thai products exported to the US were suspended, Thailand has appealed to the US, according to the commerce minister, who added that it is ultimately up to the US whether to reconsider the suspension.

Once trade preferences for Thai products are removed they are subject to tax of between 4% and 5%, making them more expensive in the lucrative US market.

He played down the impact of the US move, however, saying that although 1.8 billion dollars worth of Thai exports enjoy trade preferences from the US, only about 1.3 billion dollars worth actually apply for the benefits.

But one government strategist says the suspension of the benefits is a major issue which will heavily impact Thai exports to the US at a time when they’re already declining, due US-China trade tensions and the strong baht.

The same strategist urged the government to hold immediate talks with the US to determine the actual reason for the US action against Thai exporters (cited by the local news sources as slave labour and human trafficking in the fishing industry) predicting unemployment in Thailand will increase, with as many as 500,000 Thai workers being laid off.

The taxes resulting from the removal of GSP privileges, set to take effect in six months, mean Thai exporters could face costs of between 1.5 billion and 1.8 billion baht annually if they maintain the pre-change prices of their products in the US market.

Source: thaipbsworld.com

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Thailand

1.5 million Thais approaching poverty line

The Thaiger

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1.5 million Thais approaching poverty line | The Thaiger

A new report by the World Bank has indicated that 1.5 million Thais are approaching the poverty line after Covid-19 ravaged the tourism-dependent economy. In 2020, the report says the poverty ratio in Thailand increased to 8.8%, compared with 2019’s figure of 6.2%.

The report is troubling as the Thai economy already passed rock bottom in the 2nd quarter of 2020, with the the 2nd wave of Covid hitting just before the year end. Now, as many provinces have essentially went into lockdown from domestic and foreign tourism, workers are out of jobs, whereas before, domestic tourism was serving as a way to help businesses survive.

The government stimulated the economy by spending the equivalent of 13% of the gross domestic product, but the World Bank is predicting it may take 2 more years for Thailand to return its economic situation to its pre-Covid state. But the news is not all bad as the World Bank expects the Thai GDP to grow by 4% this year, instead of declining by 6.5% last year.

Such reasoning is due to the expectations of the Covid-19 vaccine being rolled out, and global economic growth. But if the Covid-19 situation becomes more severe, the expected economic growth would decline to 2.4%. Political instability in Thailand is another risk factor as months of protests have shaken views on Thailand’s government, which has invoked the lese majeste defamation law on protesters who were criticising the Royal family. Human rights organisations have issued statements that condemned the government as it began charging minors with the law.

Today, Thailand reports 309 new cases of Covid-19, with 80 being locally transmitted. Most of the cases were due to active testing and 12 were from those already in quarantine. Thailand is expected to receive 50,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccinesby the first week of February. The shipment is part of the first lot of 26 million doses on the agreed purchase in October of last year.

SOURCE: TNA

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Thailand

Thai senior and disabled citizens will receive 2,000 baht handouts

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Thai senior and disabled citizens will receive 2,000 baht handouts | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Post Today

While the government’s economic stimulus packages continue to roll out, there is also a concern for the disabled and senior citizens who are excluded from the criteria to get benefits from the government’s major aids at this stage. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security plans to distribute 2,000 baht handouts to that demographic of the Thai population.

According to the MSDHS Permanent Secretary, the ministry has allocated the budget to help those underprivileged groups who are excluded from the main national relief measures. However, at the initial stage, the handouts will be distributed on a case-by-case basis with the help of reports from the community development volunteers about the actual situation of each affected household.

SOURCE: NNT

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210 billion baht stimulus confirmed for “Rao Chana”

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210 billion baht stimulus confirmed for “Rao Chana” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath Online

A budget of 210 billion baht of stimulus handouts to help financially-affected people from the Covid-19 outbreak, has been confirmed and ready to be distributed to 31 million people. Each applicant in the project will get 7,000 over 2 months, but not in cash. They will only get money transferred via the “Pao Tang” app once subscribing to the website “เราชนะ.com”, an app ‘e-wallet’.

Registration is scheduled for January 29 to February 12. Applicants will be screened for their annual income and how much they have in their bank accounts. Those with an annual income exceeding 300,000 baht and with savings of more than 500,000 baht as of December 31 last year will not qualify, according to Deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow. People under the social security scheme, government officials, and state enterprise employees are not eligible for this campaign. Neither are foreigners.

The subsidy covers people’s food, drink, and essential items. They can also pay for public transport service providers who register in the project including motorcycle taxis, taxis, and passenger vans. The amount of money can be topped up each week if not spent, and there is no limit of how much to spend per day.

However, comments and responses are raised among the netizens who say “they prefer cash”. Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith says, “Financial relief is not being given in a form of cash. The money will be disbursed in phases to stimulate steady spending on essential goods. We want to inject cash into small businesses like the co-payment scheme.”

Also, questions have been raised for some people who can’t afford smartphones to get access to the app. Replying to this concern, he said… “The government will see what it can do to help them buy cheap phones”.

According to the Finance Minister, the government has approved several campaigns to help relieve people’s cost of living, including the “Let’s Go Halves” co-payment scheme that starts today as well as discounts on household electricity and water.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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