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Thailand should prepare for global economic slowdown

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Thailand should prepare for global economic slowdown | The Thaiger
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The global economy is in disarray with no clear direction. This is the stark warning from Supachai Panitchpakdi, former director-general of the World Trade Organisation.

He also says that the US-China trade war is having an adverse impact on investor confidence,

Investors don’t know where to safely invest, because the trade war could easily disrupt global supply chains, he said.

Supachai, who was also former secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, made these comments as a keynote speaker at a seminar hosted by Thansettakij newspaper on Tuesday evening.

He reminded the audience that some observers had predicted that investors would relocate their factories to Southeast Asia, partly due to rising labour costs in China, and Vietnam has already gained from this situation.

However, he said, he was unsure if Thailand stands to gain from the US-China trade tensions, because it exports to both countries.

“Exports to the US might rise, but go down in terms of China,” he said. Regardless of the trade war, he said, a further slowdown in global trade is feared, leading to a slower growth in the global economy, which in turn will affect every economy, including Thailand.

Global trade has only just shown some signs of recovery, after being sluggish for several years. Worldwide trade rose 7 per cent in 2017 and by about 5 per cent this year, he said. He also voiced concerns that US President Donald Trump’s leadership would dismantle the World Trade Organisation (WTO) system, leading investors to lose confidence in the multilateral trading system.

The US government expressed dissatisfaction with the WTO dispute-settlement mechanism after it lost many trade disputes, and then tried to have the mechanism changed so that it would be more favourable for the US.

“If the US can do this, then the multilateral trading system will eventually come to an end,” he warned.

Rising global debt over the past few years is also a cause for concern, especially among developing countries, Supachai said. Many countries have borrowed funds from overseas as they are facing an economic slowdown, resulting in lower tax revenue. Hence, he warned, high sovereignty debt could be hit by a late cycle of global growth and a hike in interest rates.

As for Brexit, he said it might not be such a debacle, though the European Union is unlikely to let Britain enjoy any benefits from leaving the union.

“In Thailand we will face more difficulties as our household debt remains high and any economic stimulus package will be less effective because most people prefer to pay off their debts first,” Supachai warned.

He also advised the next government to go ahead with the Eastern Economic Corridor investment project, noting that observers are still wondering if the government initiative will materialise. The project also involves investment in a high-speed railway linking three international airports and major cities, he said.

As ASEAN chair next year, Supachai said, Thailand should also push for progress in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), adding that the community was moving at a very slow pace, with very limited movement of skilled labour.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Bangkok

Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive

Caitlin Ashworth

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Khao San Road remains empty during the day, night crowds keep the street alive | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Daily News

Without foreign tourists at Bangkok’s infamous backpacker mecca, Khao San Road has gone quiet. While nights draw local crowds, it’s not what it used to be and the once bustling street remains empty during the day time.

While locals frequent the nightclubs and bars on the street, Khao San Road is not nearly what is was like before the pandemic. The deserted street during the daytime is an ongoing problem, according to the head of Khao San trader’s association Sanga Reungwattanakun. He says before 5pm, the street is empty.

Before the pandemic, Khao San Road generated a revenue of 1 billion baht each year and 99% of the customers were foreigners, Sanga says. Visiting the street has been considered a “rite-of-passage” for foreign backpackers.

The area is known for being crazy with party hostels, cheap alcohol and balloons filled with laughing gas. It’s also known for its eclectic street food like scorpion on a stick. During the day (pre-pandemic), tourists would get massages, go shopping, get some food or grab a drink. (or 2.. or 3…)

Without the foreign tourists, many of the hotels on the street are closed and Sanga says some traders were just too slow to adjust to the new market conditions.

During the lockdown, Khao San Road had a facelift. More than 48 million baht was put into the area for major renovations like leveling out the road and footpaths, adding some gutters and designing space for emergency vehicles.

Since the road’s official reopening with a Halloween event in October, local officials have been trying to figure out ways to pump more life into the street. The campaign “Go to Khao San 2435” was recently launched to try to draw more people to the area. Nightly opening hours have been extended to 1am, but the daytime still remains a problem.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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Protests

Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Constitutional Court official files contempt charge against protest leader | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

A student protest leader is facing charges of contempt after he made statements on Facebook critical of the Constitutional Court ruling to acquit PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, allowing the Thai prime minister and former Army General to continue occupying a military-owned residence. Critics have argued that allowing Prayut, a retired general, to say at the Army residence is a conflict of interest.

Director of the Constitutional Court’s litigation office and police officer, Montri Daengsri, filed the charge against pro-democracy protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak. Montri says the Facebook posts made by Penguin were defamatory to the court and had tarnished its reputation.

In addition to the Facebook posts, Montri says the protest leader made an offensive speech following the court ruling at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. He says the speech was defamatory and violated Thailand’s Criminal Code. Police are investigating the claims to determine if charges should be pressed.

Prayut occupies a military reception house at the 1st Infantry Regiment residential area on Phahon Yothin in Bangkok, according to the Royal Thai Army. Tenants in army welfare houses have to pay for utility bills while those who live in the reception houses, like retirees, do not pay for household expenses and the utility bill is covered by the Army.

The Constitutional Court ruled this week that Prayut did not violate the Charter by occupying the residence. The court says under military regulations, former officers can remain at their Army residence after their retirement at the discretion of the Thai Army commander.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety

Maya Taylor

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Schoolgirl bursts into tears meeting Panasaya, fearing for activist’s safety | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.prachachat.net

Protest leader Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, has been pictured consoling a young schoolgirl who broke down in tears, concerned about the activist’s safety. Rattapol Kaiipah Promsuwan, who witnessed the exchange, has shared a photo of the moment on social media. She says the girl, who is in Grade 6 (making her around 11 years old), had gone to the organisers’ area during Wednesday’s rally at the Lat Phrao intersection in Bangkok. There, she asked to meet Panusaya, a hero of hers.

The girl’s sister says her sibling has an interest in politics and is concerned about reports that Panusaya faces lèse majesté charges. Thailand’s lèse majesté law prohibits insulting, defaming or threatening the nation’s revered Monarchy, and carries a punishment of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. During her meeting with Panusaya, the girl cried for half an hour, with the student activist trying to console her, and a Facebook photo showing her hugging the child.

Panusaya has received a new summons from the Technology Crime Suppression Division, as a result of a police complaint lodged by royalist supporter, Nitipong Honark, a music composer. She is now being summonsed on December 9, to hear additional charges of lèse majesté and violating the Computer Crimes Act .

Meanwhile, the BBC has named her in its list of the world’s 100 most influential and inspirational women of 2020.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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