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Finance Minister foreshadows slowing economy in 2019

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Finance Minister foreshadows slowing economy in 2019 | The Thaiger

“We expect the GDP growth for 2019 to be at least 4 per cent. However, the economic growth for 2019 is expected to be slower than 2018,”

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong predicts Thailand will encounter slower economic growth in 2019,. The Minister cites uncertainty from the trade war between China and the US, the upcoming Thai election and a slump in tourism as the key factors.

The Nation reports that Apisak made the comments at an event organised by the engineering faculty of Chulalongkorn University.

“The peak of the current economic cycle was during the first two quarters of last year, followed by an acute slump in the third quarter. Given that consumption and private investment are still continuously growing, we expect the economy to continue to grow in 2019, but at a slower pace.”

The first two quarters of this year saw growth of 4.8 per cent year on year. The economy managed growth of only 3.3 per cent in the third quarter and a recovery is expected in the fourth quarter, but not at the pace seen for the first two quarters, Apisak said at the Chulalongkorn event, the Engineering Dinner Talk.

Growth in exports is also expected to slow in 2019. This is due to the lagging negative impact of the trade war between the US and China, with some of the consequences to be felt next year.

“Many have suggested that Thailand can gain from the trade war through replacing Chinese goods in the US market and manufacturers moving their production base from China to Thailand. However, in the long-term, the trade war will only hurt the Thai economy,” the minister said. This is because Thailand is deeply entrenched in the supply chain, which is affected by the tariffs imposed by the two economic giants, he said.

At the event, Apisak addressed the relationship between the upcoming election and growth in foreign direct investment in the Kingdom.

“After talking to many foreign investors, they have said that they are holding off investing in Thailand until after the election. This is because they fear that political stability will be damaged as a result of the election,” said Apisak.

The final key factor likely to contribute to slower economic growth in 2019 is the decline in tourism. Visitor numbers have slumped significantly since a boat accident near Phuket in the middle of this year.

In August, 867,000 Chinese tourists visited the Kingdom, down 11.7 per cent month on month. In September, only 648,000 came, marking an even steeper 14.89 per cent fall month on month, according to the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB).

Apisak said the boat accident – which claimed the lives of dozens of mostly Chinese tourists – had led many Chinese to question Thailand’s safety standards, but it was not the only cause of the fall in tourism numbers.

“Tourism has also fallen as a result of external factors which we cannot control,” he said.

“The slowing global economy has led key tourist groups visiting Thailand to decrease.

“The slowing of the Chinese economy as a result of the trade war and the weakening of the yuan currency have led to falls in the number of Chinese tourists globally.”

With the declines in exports and tourism, Apisak said investment in the Industry 4.0 policies championed by the government, with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) as a major component, will be the key driver of growth in 2019.

“The EEC is expected to be a key focal point of investment in 2019,” Apisak said. “With strong private investment levels in 2018, we expect this trend to continue into next year. Public investment in infrastructure and transportation throughout the country will intensify in 2019.

“Meanwhile, foreign direct investment into the EEC is also expected to rise after the election in February next year.”

Finance Minister foreshadows slowing economy in 2019 | News by The Thaiger

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong speaking at Chulalongkorn University

ORIGINAL STORY: The Nation

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Business

Thai Airways under pressure to deliver workable business plan

May Taylor

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Thai Airways under pressure to deliver workable business plan | The Thaiger

Thai Airways is coming under more pressure, after being given 30 days to deliver its new rehabilitation and business plans.

Thaworn Senniam, the Deputy Transport Minister, gave the instruction yesterday while meeting with the executive of the national carrier for an update on its financial status.

He says the business plan must provide clear information on how the fortunes of the airline can be turned around, with a focus on making it profitable once more, while improving customer satisfaction.

The order comes after Thai Airways President, Sumeth Damrongchaitham, denied last week that the airline was experiencing a liquidity crunch, claiming it had sufficient cash flow “for present and future operations”.

Minister Thaworn has previously said he does not believe Thai Airways’ existing rehabilitation plan will help it succeed in a turnaround. He has also ordered a monthly progress report on the carrier’s plans to buy new aircraft.

In September, the directors of Thai Airways asked the Executive Board to review a plan to order 38 additional aircraft, worth a total of 156 billion baht.

According to their second-quarter 2019 filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Thai Airways and its subsidiaries reported a net loss of 6.878 billion baht, compared to a loss of 3.086 billion baht over the same period last year.

SOURCE: The Nation

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World Economic Forum says lack of critical thinking in Thailand affecting competitiveness

May Taylor

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World Economic Forum says lack of critical thinking in Thailand affecting competitiveness | The Thaiger

PHOTO: AFP

Thailand’s competitiveness ranking has dropped two places in the Global Competitiveness Index just released by the World Economic Forum (WEC) in Switzerland. The country has dropped from 38 to 40 out of a total of 141 global economies ranked.

The WEC claims that a lack of critical thinking in teaching in Thailand, along with its failure to dominate in any markets, plus its unsafe drinking water, is affecting the country’s competitiveness.

The Nation reports that Singapore has come top in the ranking, overtaking the U.S. and Vietnam has shot up 10 places to 67.

The deputy secretary general to the PM for political affairs, Kobsak Pootrakool, responded to the findings, saying that as other countries improved their rankings, Thailand needed to work harder to ensure their progress didn’t cause it to slip backwards.

“It’s like a running competition – if our pace is slower, others will overtake us, so we have to run faster.”

The dean of the Chulalongkorn Business School, Assistant Professor Wilert Puriwat believes he knows what the country must do to improve competitiveness.

“The survey found that skills among new university graduates have declined, especially in the area of critical thinking. We’ve failed the exam and it can’t be fixed by simply retaking the test – we need to restart learning.”

Assistant Professor Wilert says Thailand needs to change the way students are taught, adding that the country’s score on critical thinking in the classroom was the world’s lowest at 37 out of 100 points. Finland comes first, with 89 points.

Wilert points out that Thai students routinely perform poorly on tests compared to foreign counterparts, which can be blamed on an old-school reliance on rote learning through memorisation.

The WEF is urging Thailand to adapt a model that encourages creative and critical individual thinking in the classroom instead. It also recommends improvements be made in staff training in Thailand, and more fostering of digital skills.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Business

Samsung Electronics flags 56% fall in third quarter profits

The Thaiger

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Samsung Electronics flags 56% fall in third quarter profits | The Thaiger

“Samsung took advantage of the US trade ban against Chinese rival Huawei.”

PHOTO: CNBC

Samsung Electronics says it expects operating profits to drop more than 50% in Q3 amid a continued slump in the global chip market. Operating profits for July to September was expected to reach 7.7 trillion won (US$6.4 billion), down 56.2% from a year earlier – this from the world’s largest maker of smartphones and memory chips.

It marks the fourth consecutive quarter in which the South Korean tech company has recorded a drop in profits in the face of falling semiconductor prices and weakening demand for its mobile devices. Sales for the third quarter were expected to drop 5.3% from the same period last year.

The South Korean tech titan leads the global smartphone market with a 23% share of the sector, trailed by Chinese competitors Huawei and Oppo, with Apple in fourth place, according to sales tracker IHS Markit.

Samsung withholds net profit and sector-by-sector business performance until it releases its final earnings report, which is expected later this month.

The firm is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung Group, by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in the world’s 11th-largest economy, and it is crucial to South Korea’s economic health. Analysts voiced optimism for the coming months, noting that falling inventory levels for semiconductors – which account for more than half of Samsung’s profit – will help stabilise chip prices after double-digit drops this year.

Sujeong Lim, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, said, that in the mobile business, Samsung took advantage of the US trade ban against Chinese rival Huawei, “replacing a strong competitor in crisis” with its mid-to-low tier Galaxy A handsets.

“The new A series has turned out to be an effective weapon to take share from its Android competitors.”

Samsung appealed to high-end users with the launch of its first foldable smartphone last month after faulty screens forced an embarrassing delay in April. The firm also rolled out its flagship Note 10 devices which analysts say have sold far better than its previous models, giving Samsung a much-needed boost in its mobile sales.

The premium smartphone market has grown fiercely competitive and overall sales have cooled as a lack of major innovation has caused people to wait longer before upgrading to new models. Samsung has also been caught up in a trade war between Japan and South Korea stemming from World War II disputes.

The row saw Tokyo impose tough restrictions on exports crucial to South Korean tech giants in July, and Samsung vice chairman Lee Jae-yong – who called the situation a “crisis” – has visited Tokyo to secure materials. Adding to Samsung’s woes, Lee is currently facing retrial over his role in a massive corruption scandal that brought down former president Park Geun-hye.

He was initially jailed for five years in 2017 on multiple convictions including bribery, which was reduced to a suspended sentence on appeal, only for the Supreme Court in August to order a retrial.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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