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US-China tit-for-tat rattles Asian markets after Trump’s ‘tariff tantrum’

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US-China tit-for-tat rattles Asian markets after Trump’s ‘tariff tantrum’ | The Thaiger

US President Trump has caused widespread panic in Asian financial markets today after Fridays “tariff tantrum” where he used Twitter to announce new levels of tariffs on Chinese imports after China announced their response to his previous ramping up of the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Asian shares have headed southward today after the President escalated tariffs in the US-China trade war renewing uncertainties about global economies.

Today’s selloff reflects how worried investors are about tariff hikes from both the US and China, and whether the latest chapter in the dispute could fuel a severe global economic slowdown.

The Thai Stock Exchange main index was down 29.24, a fall of 1.78%, early on Monday morning. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 started dropping as soon as trading opened today and stood at 20,234.87 in the morning session, down 2.3%. South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.7% to 1,916.14. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 3.3% to 25,309.37 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 1.5% to 6,427.20. The Shanghai Composite was down 1.2% at 2,862.87.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 600 points on Friday after the latest escalations in the trade spat rattled investors. The S&P 500 is now into its fourth straight weekly loss.

President Trump Tweeted out a surly reply to China’s announcement of new tariffs on $75 billion of US exports. He “ordered” US companies with operations in China to consider moving them to other countries, including the US.

When leaving the White House for the G7 summit in France, Trump told reporters, “I have the absolute right to do that, but we’ll see how it goes.”

“For all of the Fake News reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!”

After the markets closed in the US on Friday he announced the US would increase existing tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods another 5%, from 25 to 30%. He also rattled off new tariffs on $300 billion of imports which would rise from 10% to 15%.

Trump also “ordered” UPS, Federal Express and Amazon to block any deliveries from China of the powerful opioid drug fentanyl. The stocks of all three companies fell as traders tried to assess the possible implications.

Some analysts now believe that the US Federal Reserve will lower interest rates this year.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicated last week that the central bank was prepared to cut interest rates but gave no clear signal on when and by how much, while suggesting that uncertainty over Trump’s trade wars have complicated the central bank’s ability to set interest rate policy.

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Business

No impact on PTT’s imports from Saudi oil refinery attack: Thai minister

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No impact on PTT’s imports from Saudi oil refinery attack: Thai minister | The Thaiger

Thai energy minister Sontirat Sontijirawong claims that last Saturday’s attacks on two major oil-processing facilities run by the Saudi-owned company Aramco will not affect oil imports of the Thai petro-chemical giant PTT group.

He added that he had learnt from Aramco and related parties that the situation there was under control and the damage was being assessed. The incident would not affect the oil depots, which supply crude oil to Thailand’s oil and gas conglomerate PTT, according to the minister.

He says the ministry is keeping itself abreast of the situation and has already devised a “back-up plan”. He assured that the country had sufficient supply for the short-term if the attack led to severe impact on Saudi Arabia’s oil exports. He added that the country’s oil reserves were enough for 30 to 45 days if there was a supply shortage.

The Nation reports that the drone attack reportedly cut Saudi Arabia’s output by around 5.7 million barrels per day – approximately 5% of the total global oil production.

Anusorn Thammajai, director of Rangsit University’s Institute of Economics, warned that if Saudi Arabia counterattacked, the situation could worsen and that would put pressure on global and Thailand’s oil price.

The global oil price could jump by between US$5 – $10 per barrel next week. If the baht remains strong, this could assuage the impact from the pressure on local retail oil price to a certain degree.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Industry group calls for further cut in Thai policy interest rate

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Industry group calls for further cut in Thai policy interest rate | The Thaiger

“Thai private sector, recently adjusted downward the export growth projection for this year to 2.9 – 3%.”

The Federation of Thai Industries have their hopes set on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Thailand making another cut in the policy interest rate, currently set at 1.5%. With the US Fed looking to drop its interest rate this week, the FTI want the local cut to prevent the baht currency from strengthening further.

FTI vice president Kriangkrai Thiennukul says that the FTI is seriously concerned that the strengthening of the Thai currency, to one of the strongest in the region, will worsen the Thai economic slowdown in both the short and long term.

He says that the baht fluctuated between 30.40-30.50 baht/US$ last week and reached the highest level against the US$ in six years. The Thai currency has strengthened by 6% against the US greenback since the beginning of this year, making it stronger than other currencies in the region.

The strong Thai baht has made it a safe haven for foreign investors that can speculatively park their cash in the baht currency and in government bonds.

Mr. Kriangkrai said the FTI expects the Bank of Thailand to monitor the Thai baht closely, to prevent its strength affecting Thai exports, which are already being hurt by the US-China trade war, and the tourism sector.

The FTI, the Thai Bankers Association and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the three main pillars of the Thai private sector, recently adjusted downward the export growth projection for this year to between  -1% and 1% and economic growth to 2.9-3%.

Additionally, Mr. Kriangkrai warned that there is a tendency for the projected export and economic growth rates to be further lowered.

He suggested that the government should speed up the concluding of FTA (Free Trade Area) agreements with Thailand’s trading partners, especially the European Union, to open up markets for Thai exports.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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“Phuket needs a world class exhibition and convention centre”

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“Phuket needs a world class exhibition and convention centre” | The Thaiger

“Two key developments we are tracking is Central Festivals next phase of expansion and Proud Groups Andamanda project that both have significant concerence, meeting and incentive space.”

Plans to promote Phuket as a world-class MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) location are being obstructed by many impediments –  inefficient town planning, poor transport systems and poor availability of land in tourist locations.

Dusida Worrachaddejchai writes that Phuket’s deputy governor says the province has a blueprint to build an exhibition and convention hall to host international events with a capacity up to 5,000. But he said that town planning rules forbid building a hall larger than 6,000 square metres with a hight greater than 23 metres.

The prohibition for a proper convention hall by town planning appears to be one of the few projects impeded by lax town planning laws.

The project has been talked about for decades with Phuket’s potential as an active MICE venue being hampered by the lack of facilities, principally a large convention and exhibition centre.

If some provisions of the current town planning act for Phuket can be amended, the likely destination for a convention centre would be Thalang district. The deputy governor says he hopes it can be built in a few years and make Phuket able to bid for international events and expos.

But Thalang, although within 15 minutes of the Phuket International Airport, has little offer convention and exhibition delegates with most of the beaches and tourist infrastructure on the island’s southern coastal areas (Patong, Kata, Karon).

C9hotelworks’ Bill Barnett says proper MICE facilities have been a long time coming for Phuket.

“Phuket hotel developers are finally seeing the signifigance of the MICE trade. Two key developments we are tracking is Central Festivals next phase of expansion and Proud Groups Andamanda project that both have significant concerence, meeting and incentive space. TCEB ae active in the working on Phuket as a MICE destination so we see the future direction as positive, at last.”

Meanwhile the Thai government has foreshadowed that five Thai cities will be earmarked as MICE locations – Phuket, along with Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Pattaya and Bangkok. The deptuty governor sprouted Phuket’s existing MICE credentials – 600 hotels offering 40,000 guest rooms, 220 convention rooms, 615 meeting rooms, 14 piers and four private marinas. But these facilities are spread all over the island with poor access and almost no public transportation.

Plans for a world class convention centre have been brought up from time to time over the past two decades with provincial officials huffing and puffing about the need for a proper facility for the growing island but, so far, nothing has happened and the island remains a leading tourist destination with little attraction for larger conferences, exhibitions and events.

In the past the private sector – primarily Central Group and Jungceylon – have indicated their interest to build a convention hall in the Patong area. But town planning issues and the ever-dwindling available land in the seaside city have shelved any progress.

Southern beach locations, with excellent hotels, shopping and beaches – Karon and Kata – have also been flagged as potential locations but access, especially from the airport, remains poor. Travel times to the southern beaches from the airport is at least an hour and involves trips across the notorious hills roads at either Patong or Kata.

Progress on the Patong Tunnel has also stalled with successive governments unable to progress the project.

The government should improve mass transport from the airport to Patong and other western coast districts in Phuket, namely Karon, to facilitate large groups such as Mice travellers that require more than buses and vans, Ms Chalermluck said.

Last year, more than 2 million visitors arrived in Phuket for MICE events, generating 19.5 billion baht in income. But MICE industry proponents say that number could be easily tripled with a proper convention and exhibition venue.

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