Thailand’s gold and jewellery exports rise nearly 30%

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Thailand’s gold and jewellery exports rise nearly 30% | The Thaiger

The export value of gems and jewellery grew by 29% in the past seven months despite unfavourable trading terms with the rising baht.

The Gem and Jewellery Institute of Thailand director, Duangkamol Jiambutr, puts the value of exports from January to July at US$9 billion or approx. 280 billion baht, a 29.3% increase year on year.

Gold exports led the climb, rising in value 72.7%, matching the global gold price.

Amid trade disputes involving the US, China, the European Union and Iran, investors continue to see gold as a safe bet and trading has steadily increased. Thailand’s top export market for gems and jewellery is Switzerland with 56% of total export value, followed by Singapore and Cambodia.

The value of Thai jewellery exports among other Southeast Asian countries soared 108.3% in those same seven months, with Singapore taking an 82% share of the offerings, up 178% from the same period last year.

The export value stemming from demand in India rose 91%, mainly in raw materials and semi-finished products.

Duangkamol says Thai gem and jewellery exports benefited from Washington’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese products including jewellery, opening the door to the US market wider for Thailand.

He said Thailand must nevertheless carefully monitor tensions between the US and Iran, the Hong Kong protests and the effects of the baht’s appreciation.

SOURCE: The Nation

 

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Smoking at home in Thailand has been banned from today

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Smoking at home in Thailand has been banned from today | The Thaiger

The ban on smoking at home in Thailand comes into effect today. From today people can be prosecuted for “domestic abuse” by lighting up a cigarette inside a home.

People can call Family and Protection centres on 1300 to report a smoker.

According to the new law, women and children are often the recipients of second hand smoke and the new legislation and fines is designed to assist in protecting them from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke.

Speaking to Manager Online, Dr Ronachai Khongsakon from a tobacco research group, says that women were particularly vulnerable with 81% suffering second hand smoke in their homes. He claims that 430,000 people die worldwide annually from second hand smoke, and that two out of three of the victims are women.

The ‘Report a Smoker’ hotline is 1300. Cases may then be referred to juvenile and other courts. The government says the move is the latest measure to stop people smoking in Thailand in public places, and now in their homes in the presence of other people.

Smoking has already been banned at airports, including the internal ‘smoking rooms’, now replaced with rooms outside terminals for smokers. Smoking on many Thai beaches was banned back in February 2018.

There is an estimated 10 million smokers in Thailand resulting in 72,000 deaths annually.

SOURCE: Manager Online

 

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Ten things the Thai Government could to do right now

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Ten things the Thai Government could to do right now | The Thaiger

Thailand is a proud country with a rich cultural tradition. And great food. Expats and visitors have been flocking to the Land of Smiles for a century, especially the last 20 years when tourism has surged to become a major contributor to the country’s GDP.

But the veneer of a never-ending rise in tourism numbers lost some of its gloss with tourism officials, perennially optimistic and talking-up the numbers, when they were forced to admit that tourism dropped in Q2 this year. The numbers have rebounded since then with tour operators and hotels reporting a buoyant Q3 and good bookings ahead into the high-season.

But it wasn’t just tourism, living as an expat has become increasingly complex and expensive for many. There is a perception that “we’re not wanted here anymore” which is an uncomfortable feeling to have when you just want to enjoy living in the country you love and contribute to its economy by participating.

That the issues are now making headlines in Thai media is bad press for the Land of Smiles.

The rise in value of the Thai baht against some currencies, the enforcement (and ongoing confusion) over the TM30 and more scrutiny on some of the visa options for long-termers, all added to a malaise in the world economy, is making travelling to, and living in Thailand, a bit more challenging than in the past.

Here are ten suggestions, published in good faith, we believe should be implemented to address key problems.

Make it easier to do business

Between the mountains of paperwork, public service attitude, language barriers and fierce protectionism, doing business in Thailand as a foreigner is not easy. The need to have a small army of accountants and ‘Thai Nominees’ is just a part of the problem. The endless red tape and hurdles put up by the Thai Government, and the patchy application of some of these requirements, make running a business professionally an ongoing challenge.

Make it easier to apply for, and maintain, visas

There are quite a few visas available for tourists and expats to come to Thailand . But the goal posts keep being shifted and the requirements continually change. Thinly-veiled corruption and variations of how the various visas are applied have made getting and maintaining a proper visa in Thailand challenging.

Tourist visas would also benefit from increasing possible length of stays and reducing paperwork before and upon arrival. There is currently a waiver of visa fees for some countries up to the end of October 2019.

A long-term resident visa would also be welcome. Given the current difficulty of being eligible and getting a long-term resident visa in Thailand does little attract real long-term retirees who still need to do 90 day reporting, annual visa extensions and worry about the TM30 form every time they travel.

Immigration officials, around the country, control their own local fiefdoms where the ‘guidelines’ are just guidelines and are interpreted differently on different days by different officials. Apart from confusing the expats and tourists, these systems provide lucrative opportunities for blackmail and corruption.

A smile could help sometimes too.

Rebuild the Tourism Authority of Thailand

Whilst the reasons for Thailand’s droop in tourist numbers for Q2 this year are many and varied, the body who has been marketing Brand Thailand is the Tourism Authority of Thailand. They have made countless mis-steps and strategic errors in the past decade and must shoulder part of the responsibility for some of the systemic problems, including the over-reliance on just a few national demographics.

A proper, independent, tourist organisation with a professional, modern marketing team with international experience, not just Thais, is a must. Thailand’s ‘charm’ is no longer enough in the highly competitive world of international tourism. Around SE Asia there are now emerging destinations that are simply doing a better job than the team at the TAT who are, like the national airline, beset with nepotism and long-termers who should have been fired a decade ago.

Just about every aspect of tourism in Thailand needs to be updated, cleaned-up and improved and the TAT are just the wrong people to do it. They’ve strategically been chasing an unsustainable tourist mix and placed all their marketing eggs in few baskets.

Whilst they spend large amounts travelling the world and participating in travel expos, they too need to follow the rest of the world online and have their staff populating the world of social media, all day, everyday. Whatever they’re doing on social media now, multiply by 100!

Working under the auspices of the Department of Sports and Tourism hasn’t worked well for the TAT. The Government now needs a dedicated Department of Tourism is they are to maintain the percentage of GDP garnered from tourists into the third decade of the 21st century.

Urgently and aggressively address tourist safety

The fall-out from the Phuket Boat Tragedy is still being felt and has left a poor impression of safety for tourists. A year later and what has changed?

Speaking of Phuket, the shameful handling of the local lifeguard contracts has been a direct reason for drownings along the island’s west coast in recent years. The dithering of contractual arrangements and personality clashes took precedence over hiring, up-skilling and deploying a professional lifeguard service to protect beachgoers.

Around the country the reports of safety lapses causing death and injury to tourists are alarming in their frequency. Tour bus crashes, boats capsizing, renting out motorbikes to unlicensed drivers and tourist attraction safety standards. Problems associated with all of these are mostly preventable.

Change the company law

Part of the problem of doing business in Thailand is that, no matter how good you are, you never really own the legal framework that defines your business. A foreigner can only own 49% of the shares in a Thai company. This protectionist business law is a major barrier for foreigners to invest in Thailand making it difficult, or impossible to attract additional investment or plant to sell your business down the track.

There are provisions for larger enterprises to register a 100% foreign owned Board of Investment (BOI) business but these are quite complicated and expensive to set up and only available for limited industries.

  • Agriculture and Agricultural Products
  • Mining Ceramics and Basic Metals
  • Light Industry
  • Metal Products, Machinery and Transport Equipment
  • Electronic Industry and Electric Appliances
  • Chemicals, Paper and Plastics
  • Services and Public Utlities
  • Technology and Innovation Development

Providing a more flexible and easier company law, with more options for small to medium companies, would allow Thailand to attract a much larger number of international business people.

Smile

It’s meant to be the Land of Smiles. But arrive at any checkpoint or airport as you land in or depart Thailand and your first and last impressions are of unhappy, scowling immigration officials. And if you arrive at the wrong time at an airport the queues can be horrendous.

The situation may be similar at any international airports around the world, but when you pin your whole brand around being a Land of Smiles, you could at least try. It is, after all, the first impression.

Now they’ve added an additional layer of checking you in and out of the country with a fingerprint and iris scan. Taking a copy of all your finger and thumb prints just adds another 30 seconds or so as you arrive and depart… multiplied by x number of tourists waiting in line.

The same applies for some, probably more than in the past, of retailers who seem to spend a lot more time scrolling on their phone rather than attending to their customers these days. Some just don’t like being interrupted and, if you’re not buying, give you attitude rather than a simple acknowledgement.

Address the currency

To be fair there is only a limited number of levers to pull for Thai treasury officials that could ‘force’ the Thai baht to a lower value. Short of printing new Thai baht bills (which would also push up inflation), there are limits to what a modern government can do in an open international currency trading world.

Still, local businesses in tourist regions could take some control and reduce the ‘tourist’ prices and stop the blatant rip-offs aimed at solely extracting money from tourists’ pockets. Buy a Big Mac in the middle of Patong or Pattaya, then drive 3 kilometres away to another McDonalds and note the difference in price. Just maintaining your high prices and hoping for the best isn’t going to win new business.

The two-tier pricing is also a slap in the face for tourists (and most expats) which smacks of xenophobia or greed. Even the word ‘farang’ denotes an attitude to caucasian foreigners, either of derision or as walking ATMs.

Name and shame scammers

Scams have been part of the tourist game forever in Thailand. Some are just a silly punt at extracting a few extra baht from unsuspecting tourists, others are down-right dangerous, offend tourists and end up as a Facebook post. When these scammers get outed and charged (rarely) the fines and punishment are often perfunctory and are not a deterrent to other would-be scammers.

There should be a register of these annoying tourist rip-offs and schemes which is posted on some website where the ‘shame’ can act as a better deterrent using the Asian concept of ‘losing face’ as a weapon to combat scammers and prevent more from flourishing.

Or simply track down, punish the current scammers and fine them more often.

Make it easier to buy property

You see a property. You like it. You negotiate a price and want to buy it. That’s usually where it starts to get difficult. Foreigners cannot buy land or the land that their villa is sitting on. Many have got around these laws by leasing the land or forming a Thai company to do the transaction. In both cases the ‘buyer’ is never really the ‘owner’ and, whilst working reasonably well for 30 years, is still a long way around a fairly simple situation. The only winners are lawyers as they help foreign buyers navigate the labyrinth of Thai property and company law.

With the law allowing foreigners to own condominiums 100% (as long as 51% of the available units in the development is owned by Thais), developers have raced to build condos to feed the foreign buyer interest in Thai property.

Whilst appreciating the history of keeping Thailand for ‘Thais’ there should also be at least another easy option for foreigners to participate in the freehold market to better internationalising Thai property.

24 hour reporting of address (TM30) needs to be simplified or streamlined

The requirement for foreigners to report their residential location within 24 hours of a change of address, and the current confusion around the matter, should be clarified. The law applies to expats, forcing them to report to Immigration when they return from a weekend away or a business trip. Or their reluctant landlord is responsible. The actual guidelines lead to more questions, rather than providing answers, and the enforcement is applied ad-hoc.

If the report could be done ‘easily’ online on an effective, easy-to-use, reliable webpage or App, that would certainly help. Currently there is an App and a website but the successes for using it are ‘lumpy’ and users could be involved in making the process simpler.

We acknowledge the Thai government’s right to keep a track of foreign visitors but also think a streamlined, clear process would assist everyone and lead to better results for the Immigration team and better compliance by foreigners.

Source : thethaiger.com/

Thai developers revising strategies after a drop in Q2

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Thai developers revising strategies after a drop in Q2 | The Thaiger

 

Some of Thailand’s largest property developers have reported drops in revenue and profit in Q2 2019. The slump follows commercial banks in Thailand reining in loan approvals in response to a new loan-to-value regulation that took effect on April 1.

• AP (Thailand) reported total Q2 revenue of 4.8 billion baht, down 25.9% compared to last year’s 6.48 billion baht, and net profit of 488 million baht, down 59.3%.

• LPN Development Q2 revenue was 1.67 billion baht, a drop of 26.8%, and profit of 176.73 million baht, for a 29.3% decline.

• SC Asset Corporation’s revenue was 3.49 billion baht, down 10.5%, and profit 282 million baht, a 37.3 % drop.

• Ananda Development reported Q2 revenue at 2.03 billion baht, down 15.4%, and profit at 119 million baht, down 79.6%.

• Pruksa Holdings reported 7.8 billion baht in revenue, down 28.4%, and 932 million baht profit, down 40.3%.

• Property Perfect reported its revenue at 4.3 billion baht, down 8.5%, but its Q2 net profit was 471.46 million baht, up 208.1% from the same period last year.

Other firms reported strong first-half growth, however, thanks to solid performances in Q1, when homebuyers rushed to beat the new bank LTV deadline.

Pruksa’s deputy chief executive Supattra Paopiamsap says that the overall market in metropolitan Bangkok dropped 13% in the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year. Property ownership transfers between April and May fell 24%, she reported, showing a clear market slowdown.

But Pruksa still plans to launch a further 26 new residential projects in 2019, lowering its target for the year from 55 projects to 40.

Other firms have also revised 2019 project launch forecasts due to the market swings. Ananda Development has suspended its 10-billion condominium project Ideo Q Phahon-Saphankhwai and will refund buyers’ down payments received since April.

 

thethaiger.com/

 

Popular Thai expat blogger shares problems renewing visa

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Popular Thai expat blogger shares problems renewing visa | The Thaiger

Popular expat blogger Richard Barrow has shared his difficulties in trying to renew his visa’s extension of stay. Richard returned to Samut Prakan immigration last Friday to collect his annual extension. But he was told that Bangkok hadn’t yet approved his application.

Samut Prakan Immigration gave him a 7 day extension and told him to come back next week. He has shared his woes on his Facebook page.

“I’ve lived in Thailand for twenty five years. I’ve spent most of my life here. But this is what I have to go through every year.”

Richard reports that when he returned to work later that day, there was an Immigration Police vehicle parked outside. He says officers from Chaeng Wattana in Bangkok visited him at his place of work to question him.

“They had my application with them which explained why Samut Prakan Immigration hadn’t received the verdict yet. They didn’t give any indication as to whether there was a problem or whether they were happy with the inspection.”

Richard has recently been a vocal supporter of the campaign calling for TM30 to be abolished or modified.

The Thaiger also supports reform and modification of the TM30 form. The current enforcement is inconsistent, open to corruption, interpretation and is confusing to expats and foreigners.

“Not the best of days for me. As you may remember, today was the day for me to go back to Samut Prakan Immigration to hear the verdict as to whether my application to stay in Thailand for another year has been approved. This is something I have to go through every year. I arrived at Immigration, only to be told that Bangkok hasn’t approved my application yet. As my visa extension expires today, they kindly extended my stay for one more week. They said I should return next Friday to hear the verdict of my application. Read the rest of his post HERE.

His post had a flood of broad support with nearly 700 ‘likes’ and 130 shares…

“Well good luck mate ! But don’tn hold your breath ! They don’t like foreigners making money and running businesses here.”

“You are not alone; we’re all being pushed to our limits. Chok dee.”

“Very sad this is happening to you mate. My fingers are crossed for a positive outcome for you.”

“They are really making it tough for us, so much so that some of us just don’t want to stay here anymore. But as some of us are required to stay here for a particular reason it’s not so easy as once was. Plus the baht is so high, plus in my case the Aussie dollar is sooooooo low life just isn’t easy at the moment.”

The Thaiger wishes Richard the best. His blogs are a deep and fascinating resource about the life of an expat in Thailand and are well worth following.

If you would like to support an overhaul of the TM30 form, click HERE.

 

Source : thethaiger.com/

Three herbicides will be banned in Thailand this year

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Three herbicides will be banned in Thailand this year | The Thaiger

“When we eat fish from a river or stream contaminated with chemicals, we will ingest the chemicals. It is a food chain.”

Three hazardous herbicides, widely used in Thailand, will be banned before the end of this year. Deputy Agriculture Minister Manunya Thaiseth says the three herbicides are strongly opposed by consumer, civic groups and environmentalists.

Yesterday she ordered a suspension of the granting of permits for, or registration of paraquat, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate. She says a complete review of the use of the three agricultural chemicals will be undertaken.

“The review is expected to be completed this month. I would like them to be banned this month, but would have to take several matters into consideration, such as the amount of the chemicals currently held in storage.”

The deputy agriculture minister dismissed the suggestion that, since many farmers had been trained in the proper use of the three herbicides, the farmers are able to protect themselves. She also doubted suggestions that consumers can be assured that agricultural produce is safe, because it is not known whether the trained farmers strictly follow the usage instructions in their day to day practices.

“The safety of human beings cannot be compromised. While we are living with the hazardous chemicals and are taking preventive measures, the chemicals have spread into the environment.”

“When we eat fish from a river or stream contaminated with chemicals, we will ingest the chemicals. It is a food chain.”

The Public Health Ministry has joined civic and consumer groups in calling for a complete ban of the three chemicals, claiming that several countries have already banned them. The Ministry of Agriculture, under the previous administration, opposed a complete ban and instead chose to impose stricter control on their use by providing training to farmers on how to use the chemicals correctly for their own health safety and that of the consumers.

 

Source : thethaiger.com/

Thai Airways faces more bad news with bigger losses in Q2

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Thai Airways faces more bad news with bigger losses in Q2 | The Thaiger
Thai Airways’ problems appear to be compounding with a perfect storm of an ageing fleet, a plateauing of tourist intake and increased competition from newer, more nimble budget airlines.

The country’s national pride and joy had a poor Q2 this year, compounding years of declining profit results. The  second quarter loss more than doubled losses for the same quarter last year as the global economic slowdown took a toll on the airline’s revenue.

Thai Airways reported a net loss of 6.88 billion baht in Q2, 2019. In the same quarter last year the loss was 3.1 billion baht.

Aviation analysts say the legacy airline struggles to operate with ageing aircraft, declining tourist arrivals and a strong Thai currency. In the past 12 months the Thai baht has appreciated 8% against the US dollar, and appreciated against many other world currencies affecting decisions of tourists to travel to Thailand.

The Airline has been criticised for resisting changes to its business culture and upper management – long accused of cronyism, nepotism and inefficiencies.

New Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob has already thrown his supported behind Thai Airways’ plan to buy new aircraft. Last week Thai Airways executives inspected the new Airbus A220 during its tour of south east asia – a smaller single-aisle new generation jet.

 

Source : thethaiger.com