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U-tapao and Eastern Airport City deal officially signed

Jack Burton

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U-tapao and Eastern Airport City deal officially signed | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Straits Times
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The deal for a public/private partnership for the U-tapao International Airport and Eastern Airport City projects has been officially signed. The agreement is between the Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand and U-tapao International Aviation Company. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha chaired the signing ceremony yesterday at Government House.

The deal is for a major infrastructure project to upgrade U-tapao, which serves Chon Buri and Rayong provinces, to become Bangkok’s third commercial international airport, linked with the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang international airports via high speed rail. The project will also create a business development hub in the 30 kilometres around the airport.

Connecting with Bangkok by sea, road, rail and air, the project is expected to drive Thailand to become a regional aviation hub and the prime gateway to Asia. In April Airbuses pulled the plug on their intention to partner with the project.

The project is expected to cost around 290 billion baht, with an expected 305 billion baht return; it is expected to generate tax revenues of more than 62 billion baht, create more than 15,000 jobs a year for the first 5 years, and encourage advanced technology and human resource development in aviation and related businesses.

The project is to be located in Ban Chang district of Rayong province, about 30 kilometres from Pattaya and Map Ta Phut industrial estate.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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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.

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    David Pilkington

    June 20, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Sorry to sound cynical, but this signing ceremony only leaves me with the ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ frame of mind. Sadly, it must be said, ever since U-Tapao and the EEC first crept into the news, I’ve instinctively viewed them as nothing more than catchy sound-bites that this government appears to be addicted to. If they could put the same initiative into making a real difference – an improvement obviously – to ALL the country’s dire standards of policing, education and social equality as they do into announcing their catchy gimmicks, the public may start to be impressed by what comes out of Dusit Park.

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Economy

Thailand’s economy facing bleakest prediction in Asia

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s economy facing bleakest prediction in Asia | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas Brücker on Unsplash

“The Bank of Thailand predicts that its gross domestic product will shrink by more than 8% this year.”

While Thailand appears to have been successful in suppressing the Covid-19 virus, a report in The Bangkok Post today says the outlook for the country’s economy is far from favourable, calling it the worst in Asia.

The Bank of Thailand predictions are the bleakest across Asian countries’ economies. Such a drop would be even worse than the one experienced during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. Kiatipong Ariyapruchya, a senior economist for Thailand at the World Bank, says much of it can be attributed to the plunge in international tourism since the country shut its borders in the early weeks of the Covid crisis.

“Thailand has large exposure as a tourism hub, close to 15% of GDP, and it also has a large exposure of the export-oriented sector. Hence the large shock to GDP.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg is predicting a contraction of 6% for Thailand’s economy, the worst in south-east Asia, with experts expecting it to have a weak recovery of about 4% in 2021. Measures put in place to suppress the spread of the Covid-19 virus. are being seen as a major factor in the economic downturn. The forced shut down of businesses, introduction of a nighttime curfew and state of emergency have had a devastating knock-down effect at a time when investment and consumption were already on a downward trajectory since last year.

With the exception of a limitation on international flights, most restrictions have now been lifted, along with the government introducing various stimulus packages to boost domestic tourism and the overall economy. However, no amount of domestic travel can make up for the devastating loss to the country’s tourism sector, which accounted for a fifth of the overall economy last year.

With airports still closed to almost all international arrivals, foreign tourism is expected to plummet to one-fifth of last year’s figures, at just 8 million. The Thai government is still mulling the introduction of travel bubbles with countries it deems safe from Covid-19, but it’s slow going, with the PM expressing concern over the risk of reintroducing the virus through arrivals from abroad.

Analysts are also saying they don’t foresee a rush of investment any time soon, given the bleak predictions facing the country. Exports appear to be recovering, however, having taken a brief hit during the first two months of the year. The rise in the price of gold is providing a much-needed boost, but exports overall are still feeling the effects of a decrease in demand, in addition to disruptions to the global supply chain.

The strong baht remains an ongoing factor, with the US dollar losing nearly 6% against the baht over the last 3 months, despite multiple interest rate cuts by the Bank of Thailand to try and quell the enthusiasm for the Thai currency. The Central Bank has previously spoken about the negative effect the Thai baht is having on exports and the overall economy, warning that they will take steps to restrain the currency’s climb if necessary.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Domestic tourism stimulus package registration starts July 15

Maya Taylor

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Domestic tourism stimulus package registration starts July 15 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sumit Chinchane on Unsplash

Thai nationals, who are 18 years or older, can start registering for the domestic tourism stimulus package on July 15. The government’s “Rao Tiew Dauy Kan” (We Travel Together) scheme entitles 5 million Thais to discounts on hotels and eating out, while 2 million can get rebates on flight tickets. A report in the Nation Thailand says the arrangement will be in place until October 31.

The Thai government is aiming to kick-start a ‘safe’ domestic tourism whilst slowly prising open its borders to foreigners, and the risk of new infections.

Interested travellers must register through the official website, using the “Pao Tung (Wallet)” app. Discounts and rebates will be available until the allocated quota is used up. Hotel discounts will be for one room over five nights and can be spread over different hotels. If a guest wants to book five rooms in any one hotel, they will only receive a discount for one night. It’s understood the cost of a room will be reduced by 40% or a maximum of 3,000 baht.

Travellers can register between 6 am and 9 pm and will receive a confirmation via SMS. Once the text is received, hotel accommodation must be booked through officially-sanctioned channels and online travel agencies in order to qualify for a discount. Confirmed bookings will then appear in the “Pao Tung” app, along with details of the non-refundable payment that needs to be made through the app.

On arrival at their hotel, travellers will again need to use the app to check-in and use the 600 baht electronic voucher, which will appear in the app. With this, they can receive discounts at participating restaurants and attractions. A 600 baht credit will be added to the app for every night they stay at the hotel, with vouchers expiring at 11.59 pm on the day of departure. Vouchers can be used in any province in the country, with the exception of a person’s home province (determined by their house registration book).

Those taking domestic flights can register for a 40% rebate on the cost of their ticket, up to 1,000 baht. The full cost must first be paid upfront, with the refund later credited back to their “Pao Tung” wallet.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Economy

US ambassador meets deputy PM to discuss Thailand’s “great investment potential”

Jack Burton

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US ambassador meets deputy PM to discuss Thailand’s “great investment potential” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

US Ambassador to Thailand Michael George DeSombre, who raised eyebrows in May when he described the US as “a better friend than China,” has praised the kingdom’s “great investment potential”, highlighting the expansion of current projects and further support for industry as ways to promote further cooperation. Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak welcomed the ambassador to the open discussion amongst key trade officials.

The US Ambassador chose not to wear a facemark during the visit.

The DPM and the ambassador discussed cooperation between the 2 nations, to help strengthen the economies of both countries and promote more US investment in Thailand. The ambassador says Thailand has huge potential and suitability for US companies to invest, especially as part of the supply chain of the South East Asia region.

Somkid says DeSombre is enthusiastic about the development of mutual economic relations, revealing that the ambassador proposed ideas on what industries should receive more support from both sides.

The ambassador expressed confidence that Thailand will become a technological hub in the region, with immense growth potential in the manufacturing and service sectors, as well as stock exchanges that could connect to Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

“Thailand provides excellent medical services, an area which could be expanded to reach more clients and patients…. related agencies are ready to develop mutual exchange packages through the Board of Investment, to promote competitiveness and attract investment.”

The DPM said Thailand doesn’t need standalone investment from individual companies, but rather demands investment packages, which the ambassador says he’ll be proposing soon.

Somkid also stressed that he’s still working on the country’s domestic and international economic affairs, while declining to comment regarding the recent political developments in ruliing Palang Pracharath Party.

Thailand’s economic ministers will meet on Friday to discuss 2 main economic packages.

US ambassador meets deputy PM to discuss Thailand's

SOURCE: NNT

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