Thailand became the latest of several Asian countries to actively encourage the depreciation of its currency on Wednesday, continuing a trend that is likely to leave other regional economies with little choice but to follow.
Its central bank cut interest rates by 25 basis points from 2.75 per cent to 2.5 per cent a year, in an attempt to stem a rise in the baht, which hit a 16-year high last month. The Thai finance ministry is considering adding capital controls to the mix. Read more
Yum or yuk?
If the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation has its way, celebrity chefs will soon be whipping up a dish of dried crickets, rather than strawberry fondue.
Insects may not look particularly appetising, but they could provide a solution to the world’s looming food crisis. And the FAO’s shining example? Thailand. Read more
Less than a year after Thailand’s much criticised auction of 3G mobile data spectrum, the country is putting digital TV licences up for sale.
The auction, planned for August or September, looks likely to shake up the broadcasting sector as Thailand attempts to modernise its most powerful advertising medium. Read more
By any comparison, 2012 was a bumper year for new issues on the Thai stock market. Companies and property funds listing on Thailand’s bourse raised $1.8bn – the most since 2002.
With stock prices strong, investors can expect a lot more in 2013 – the Stock Exchange of Thailand forecasts that the market capitalisation of new listings will climb from Bt116bn ($4.03bn) in 2012 to Bt120bn ($4.2bn) Read more
The yen shock has sent shudders around Japan’s Asian exporter rivals, not least Thailand.
The baht has soared spreading consternation among exporters. But even in a country where exports are over 75 per cent of GDP, the picture isn’t as simple as it seems. First, currency isn’t the only determinant of export competitiveness in a world of complex trade flows. And second, there could be benefits to Thailand in the expected outflow of Japanese money seeking higher yields in emerging markets. Read more
It looks like Laos, China’s tiny landlocked southern neighbour, is about to find out whether sharing a border with China is a good thing. Laos has two things China needs – natural resources such as potash and hydropower, and access to Thailand’s large and growing consumer market.
Perhaps that is why China is so keen to provide a $7.2bn loan to the small communist country for a long-awaited controversial high-speed rail project between the two. Read more
Is the recent spate of bullish expansion announcements from Thailand’s supermarket chains just a bit of retailer one-upmanship, or an indication of serious corporate intentions?
Given the intense competition driven by emerging Thai consumers, it may well be the latter – and there has been a recent frenzy of capital investment by retailers to back it up. Read more
Bad debt and bad bankers have dominated most headlines about Vietnam in the last few years. What gets less attention, however, is its promising tourist industry. Unfortunately, getting people to Vietnam’s tourist attractions has nevertheless proved difficult. The country’s airlines are struggling to stay alive, let alone profitable.
Of the five private airlines launched in Vietnam since 2007, only one is still in business. Read more
A quick look at Thailand’s record stock market returns and robust GDP growth (6.6 per cent last year), and you might forget there is still a global economic crisis going on. But however isolated Thailand may seem from the world’s spluttering rich economies, February’s export figures are proof that it is not. Read more
If Cambodia is anything to go by, physical size and a population of just 15m are immaterial when it comes to building a successful garment industry. But as a series of strikes were brought to a close on Friday with a rise in the minimum wage for the sector of 20 per cent, globally recognised brands such as Levi Strauss, Gap and H&M will have to decide whether Cambodia is likely to remain their most cost-effective option. Read more
In Myanmar, southeast Asia’s latest golden investment opportunity, being in first wins headlines for foreign companies, as Coca-Cola and Standard Chartered have recently shown.
But as payment networks MasterCard and Visa have discovered, it doesn’t guarantee a lead over the competition. Read more
From London’s Boris Johnson to New York’s Michael Bloomberg, city governors and mayors around the world have proven their roles are as much about power politics and money as they are about getting stuff done.
In Thailand, last week’s hard-fought election for Bangkok’s governor was a battle fought on promises of change – most of which cannot be delivered, say analysts. But what really lay behind the fight was the struggle for power in Thailand between the two main political parties. All the votes are in, but it’s not over yet. Read more
Where's my iPad?
A Thai government deal to supply 1.8m school children with tablet computers, the largest contract of its kind in the world, could tempt about 10 manufacturers to bid.
At just under $100 a tablet, the margins will be wafer-thin. But there will be considerable kudos for the winners. In a fiercely-competitive market that will do no harm. Read more
For Thailand, the timing is perfect for this week’s announcement that negotiations are to begin on a free trade agreement with the European Union.
The issue has dominated Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s current tour of northern Europe and, if concluded successfully, an FTA would kick in just as Thailand’s cushy preferential trade treatment under the EU’s generalised system of preferences expires in 2015. Read more
On the glass doors of VGI Global Media is a large sticker proclaiming in bright red letters that the advertising agency is “very good indeed”.
But when asked whether the slogan is behind the acronym VGI, chief executive Marut Arthakaivalvatee (pictured) laughs and says “nobody knows”. He jokes that it may well stand for “very good investment”. If the last year is anything to go by, he’s not wrong. Read more
Such is the reliance of Thailand on gas from Myanmar that scheduled maintenance at a plant in April may cause Thailand’s cities go dark at the hottest time of year, when power consumption is highest. If the country’s energy plans are anything to go by, the dependence will only get greater. Read more
Thailand’s attempt to register around 1.5m illegal migrant workers by the middle of next month is causing more problems than it might solve.
The deadline for workers to apply for permits has been extended – but with employers reluctant to apply on behalf of workers, and workers forced to jump through several expensive bureaucratic hoops, there are still 1m yet to complete their registration. Hanging over the process is the threat of deportation – and worries for business. Read more
Thailand has done it again – exceeding all expectations, even those of its own central bank. The government said on Monday that GDP grew 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 18.9 per cent on the same period in 2011 and bringing full-year growth to 6.6 per cent. The fourth quarter figure is the highest since records began in 1994 and was received as excellent news for the Kingdom – but has also fuelled concerns that a bubble is in the making. Read more
Thailand’s appetite for construction and public debt appears far from sated, judging by a huge infrastructure spending bonanza now poised for approval by the government.
At a time when most capitals are scrambling to reduce national debt, the Thai government is finalising plans for a long-promised infrastructure building spree estimated at Bt2,000bn ($67bn) that some critics warn will tip public debt over 50 per cent of GDP, from its current 41 per cent level. Read more
Anyone ever stuck in Bangkok traffic is probably thrilled that Thai car sales are set to fall steeply this year but, perhaps surprisingly, car executives are still bullish on the country.
Why? Not because they think they can convince locals to keep buying cars for their slow commutes but because the country, despite devastating floods in 2011, is still an attractive manufacturing base for exports to the rest of the fast-growing Asean region. Read more