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Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai | The Thaiger

by Jintana Panyaarvudh

The charm and beauty of Chiang Mai, the capital of northern Thailand, has made the province not only a must-see destination but also a golden nest for foreign investors – especially Chinese seeking business opportunities. Take Chinese entrepreneurs like Cherry and Zong Dan, for example. Having fallen for Chiang Mai’s charms, they opted to start their first overseas business in the province.

Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

Cherry, a 35 year old entrepreneur from Chengdu, decided to invest in a guesthouse in Chiang Mai’s Muang district a few months ago after finding her previous job as a writer on property issues was no longer satisfying.

She chose Chiang Mai after the city left a deep impression on her when she first visited five years ago.

“Chiang Mai is not far from my hometown, has nice weather, and the people are warm and friendly,” Cherry said.She rented an eight-room guesthouse on Sirimangkalajarn Road, and partnered with the owner of the building, since Thai laws do not allow her to fully own a business here.

Cherry is currently staying in Thailand on a 60 day tourist visa while she applies for a work permit. It’s a complicated process and expensive, she admits; she even had to return briefly to China to retrieve some required documents.

As a Chinese national, Cherry knows her compatriots prefer to stay in a hotel where staff speak their language, and so she hired Thai staff who can speak some Mandarin. Her guesthouse boasts many return customers. To boost her sales, she turned to the largest online travel agency in China, Ctrip. Cherry’s initial investment was around 1.5 million baht and she expects to make it back in the next two years despite strong competition from an abundance of tourist accommodation in Chiang Mai these days.

Asked her advice for other Chinese entrepreneurs considering investing in Thailand, Cherry says people could invest in property to live in or rent out – but she wouldn’t advise anyone to run a guesthouse as she does. Cherry thinks the number of Chinese tourists coming to Thailand will continue to rise because prices are low and a high-speed train will soon be connecting the two countries.

Asked about anti-Chinese investment sentiment in Thailand, Cherry said, “I hired four Thai staff. They now have jobs and can help to grow the Thai economy.”

Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

Zong Dan moved from Saraburi, where she was a Chinese volunteer teacher two years ago, to Chiang Mai because she likes the city. She then became the co-owner of the famous Chinese food shop Miss Liangpi in a soi on Nimmanhaemin Road after seeing a business opportunity there.

At the time, there were only a couple of Chinese food shops in the city.With the aim of serving Chinese food to their tourist compatriots, Zong and her husband, whose hometown is in Xi’an in Shaanxi province, decided to open a small shop to sell the signature dish of Xi’an – Liang pi, or cold-skin noodles.

Like Cherry, Zong at first found it difficult to set up the business, including identifying the best location for her shop and then registering her business, which took around three months. Zong, who runs the shop with a Thai partner, now has a work permit in hand.

Her shop was ranked one of the most popular in 2017 by a Chinese review website and now boasts Chinese, Western and Thai customers. Sales this year, however, have not been as good as last year, Zong says, but the business still makes a healthy profit. Their plan is to run the shop for four or five years and then take stock before deciding their next move.

Last year, Chinese topped the list of foreign tourists to Thailand, reaching almost 9.8 million visitors and spending around 524.4 billion baht. Authorities expected the number of arrivals this year to reach 12 million. Chinese were also the only nationality to increase their numbers in Chiang Mai from 2014 to 2016 – with an almost 43 per cent increase – while other nationalities decreased, according to the Intelligence Centre of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

“When the market grows, demand grows, as does investment. Chinese people feel happier talking with Chinese speakers,” a TAT official who asked not to be named said

.Chinese people are investing in every country in the world, noted Yos Santasombat, a professor of Anthropology at Chiang Mai University. China’s official “going out” policy is spurring investment, and not just in Thailand, he said.Yos Santasombat.

“They are coming to explore the possibility of investment. If there is a better situation or a better deal or a better chance elsewhere they will go there,” said the professor, who has conducted several studies into Chinese capitalism and the impact of China in the Mekong region.

Chinese setting up shop in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

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Fish sauce excluded from Thailand’s proposed tax on salty foods

May Taylor

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Fish sauce excluded from Thailand’s proposed tax on salty foods | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Cook’s Illustrated

Thailand’s Excise Department and Public Health Ministry is considering a levy on salty foods in an attempt to tackle the sodium-rich diets of Thai citizens, and the health consequences.

The director general of the Excise Department, Patchara Anuntasilpa says the tax would be calculated based on the amount of salt in a product, with the proposal being sent to Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana by year end.

Fish sauce is a liquid condiment made from fish or krill that have been coated in salt and fermented for up to two years.[1][2]:234 It is used as a staple seasoning in East Asian cuisine and Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly south east Asia and Taiwan. Following widespread recognition of its ability to impart a savoury umami flavor to dishes, it has been embraced globally by chefs and home cooks.

“If the tax is approved, we will allow entrepreneurs one or two years to reduce the salt content and launch a less-salty version of their product.”

The World Health Organisation and the UN both recommend taxing foods with a high salt content, saying increased sodium intake leads to high blood pressure, cancer and kidney and heart disease.

The Nation reports however, that while the proposal is to levy the tax on frozen and canned foods, along with processed items such as instant noodles, seasoning such as fish sauce and snacks like potato chips would be excluded.

The Federation of Thai Industries has pledged to cooperate with the government’s effort to improve the health of Thailand’s citizens, but its head Wisit Limluecha says he is not in favour of taxing popular seasonings, snacks, frozen or instant foods.

“Research has found that these foods represent only 20% of what we eat each day, and everyone has different eating habits, so the better solution would be to advise consumers on how to eat healthily.”

Wisit warns that the tax may damage the country’s competitiveness in the food sector both overseas and in Thailand, where imported products are easily available. He also voices concern that small businesses will suffer if unable to afford ingredient and packaging changes.

SOURCE: The Nation

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President | The Thaiger

PHOTO: gta5-mods.com

“Thai Airways will have to modify its rehabilitation plans to survive in the face of tight competition.” This frank admission by the airline’s president Sumet Damrongchaith.

The national carrier is now carrying a total debt of over 2.45 billion baht and losses of more than 20 billion, despite being able to reduce its debts by 48 billion baht over the past five years.

Sumet says the first step will be to restructure the airline’s management and finances as well as reconsider its plan to spend 1.5 billion baht on 38 new aircraft. He admits the biggest problem is that Thai Airways has low capital but a high debt-to-equity ratio of eight times.

In order to maintain its competitiveness, the carrier will have to reduce its debts versus assets and boost its working capital with support from the ministries of Transport and Finance. Hence, it plans to borrow approximately 3.2 billion baht in fiscal 2020 in line with the budget limit set by the Office of Public Debt Management.

This loan will be taken to support the airline’s investments as well as for its working capital, to update equipment and maintain existing aircraft, but will not be used to repay old debts.

The Nation also reports that the airline is also concerned about maintaining its liquidity because at the end of June this year, its revolving credit line stood at 13.4% of the total revenue forecast for 2019.

Sumet admits that, though the original rehabilitation plan has a set framework, the situation has now changed due to the appreciation of the baht, so in order to achieve goals, the work method has to be redesigned, such as finding a way to procure more passengers.

“We are now in the process of analysing new markets.”

Meanwhile, Thai Aiways’ board chairman Aek-Niti Nitithan-Praphas says the board is reconsidering plans to procure a new fleet taking into consideration the state of the global and domestic economies as well as the US-China trade war.

“The growth of the tourism industry and the airlines’ financial status needs to be reviewed in line with strong competition and routes that are no longer popular. It’s better to carefully revise the plan instead of exposing the airline to greater risk. The target should be reduce expenses by 20%.”

Meanwhile, Thai Airways aims to boost the sale of tickets, find ways of increasing online shopping of duty-free goods and reducing unnecessary expenses by 10%without affecting the quality of service in the last three months of 2019.

The airline is also negotiating the option of cutting down overtime expenses and is looking into curbing losses incurred by it’s semi-budget offshoot Thai Smile by increasing its flying hours to 10.5 hours daily. These steps are expected to help the airline reach breakeven point in the short term.

The airline is also considering long-term goals such roping in more passengers by offering greater benefits to Royal Orchid Plus members, focusing on digital marketing, retiring non-performing assets as well as increasing revenue from related businesses such as kitchens and aircraft repair centres.

SOURCE: The Nation

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