1. Price controls ‘will hit healthcare’. The Private Hospital Association is calling for the state to bring all public hospitals under the jurisdiction of the Medical Facilities Act of 1988 in response to the government’s proposed price controls on medical services. The move would put all hospitals under the same regulatory framework, requiring each to provide a minimum amount of physicians, paramedics and pharmacists, a costly regulation applying to private but not public hospitals. (Bangkok Post, 15/1/19)
  2. Overwhelming UK vote rejects Brexit deal. British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to reject the EU divorce deal struck between London and Brussels, in a historic vote that leaves Brexit hanging in the balance. MPs in parliament’s lower House of Commons voted by 432 to 202 to reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s agreement with the EU. (Bangkok Post, 16/01/19)
  3. PDMO backs debt cap. The Public Debt Management Office (PDMO) is keen to defend the cap of 60% on the ratio of public debt to GDP, saying the limit is in line with international standards and provides sufficient fiscal space to cushion against crises and drive growth. (Bangkok Post, 12/01/19)
  4. MRTA rushing to open bid for Phuket light rail project valued at Bt34.8bn with a 30-year concession. The proposal will be sent to the cabinet for approval by mid-year and the bid is hoped to open in 3Q19. The MRTA hopes the line will be open for service in 2023. BTS and BEM are interested and preparing to bid for the project. (Thun Hoon, 11/1/19)
  5. Japan cancelled license applications for pending solar farm projects with total electricity production capacity of 20,000MW. It has also reduced electricity purchases from projects in which investment has not yet begun. SPCG is negotiating with the Japanese agency as it has a 480MW solar farm project in Japan. SAAM, developer of a biomass power plant, believes that Japan will focus on biomass power plants and this will help its earnings growth. (Thun Hoon, 11/1/19)
  6. B18bn projects approved for upper North. The cabinet has approved in principle 10 infrastructure projects worth a combined 17.7 billion baht for four upper northern provinces; Lamphun, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Lampang. (Bangkok Post, 15/01/19)
  7. World Bank trims Thailand 2019 GDP growth to 3.8%. The World Bank has trimmed its projection for Thailand’s economic growth this year to 3.8% from 3.9% estimated earlier, due to a global slowdown and elevated trade tensions between the United States and China. (Reuters, 16/01/19)
  8. Scheme projects Bt26bn for low-income earners. Career training under the government’s welfare and subsidy scheme should help boost the income or 1.56mn recipients by a total of Bt26bn, says a senior official at the Finance Ministry. (Bangkok Post, 17/01/19)
  9. PM finally says it: election date will be changed. Prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appeared to admit for the first time yesterday that the expected election date would be altered after weeks of uncertainty. “We’re going towards full democracy. There will be an election no matter what,” the junta leader said. “[The election date] will be changed but still it will be by May 9.” He was referring to the deadline set by the Constitution prescribing that the poll must be held within 150 days after the electoral organic laws were in effect. (Bangkok Post, 17/01/19)
  10. Election set to boost GDP, consumer confidence. Country’s economy this year, as it is estimated to bring as much as 80 billion baht in money circulation and spending on political campaigns. Sauwanee Thairungroj, president of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday at a seminar held by the Economic Reporters Association that spending on political campaigns will help boost GDP growth by 0.3%. (Bangkok Post, 17/01/19)

Plus some bonus news re China – their slowing down has a massive impact on the rest of the world as they are net importers to effectively every country except the US.

Interesting China-related news

  1. China seeks more yuan use in Asean. China has published a five-year blueprint that seeks greater economic and financial integration between southern Guangxi province and Southeast Asia, representing Beijing’s latest effort to promote international use of the yuan. (Bangkok Post, 11/01/19)
  2. China’s global trade surplus fell in 2018: customs. China’s global trade volume rose last year but its surplus fell again as its imports outpaced its exports, official data released Monday showed amid a bruising trade war with the United States. Total trade reached US$4.62trn, a 12.6% rise from 2017, according to customs data. But the trade surplus for the world’s second largest economy fell 16.2% to US$351.76bn, as imports rose 15.8% while exports gained 9.9%. (AFP, 14/01/19)
  3. China Quietly Cuts Borrowing Costs While Keeping Rates on Hold. The People’s Bank of China has been quietly guiding interbank borrowing costs down without actually cutting official interest rates, with the latest move a record one-day injection of cash into the market. (Bloomberg, 17/01/19)
  4. China Adding Stimulus Emboldens Asia Stock Traders to Hit `Buy’. Rather than wait for direction from the market, investors appear to be charting their own course, latching on to the prospects of Chinese tax cuts “on a larger scale.” The government will keep lowering taxes, especially for small businesses and the manufacturing sector, according to a statement distributed to reporters before a press conference with officials from the People’s Bank of China, Ministry of Finance and others. (Bloomberg, 15/01/19)
  5. China cuts import tax to drive Thai exports. China has reduced import tax on 1,585 products from an average of 10.5% to 7.8%, effective since November 1 last year, in order to drive Thai exports to China, the International Trade Promotion Department of Commerce Ministry reported yesterday. (The Nation, 15/01/19)

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