1. Ministry of Finance told World Bank that the new Public Procurement Act is not a barrier to government investment, claiming that the international standards in the Act can save around Bt30bn for the country. (Matichon, 18/4/18)
  2. Thailand approves tax incentive plan to encourage bank mergers. Thailand’s Cabinet approved a plan on Tuesday to offer tax incentives to encourage mergers among the country’s commercial banks, a move that will help them better compete with their larger regional rivals. (Business Times, 18/4/18)
  3. Airport rail ToR to lure foreigners. The private sector has proposed terms of reference (ToR) that permit foreign investors to hold more than a 50% share in the 224.54-billion-baht high-speed railway linking the three main airports in a bid to boost management efficiency. The three airports are Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao. The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Wed acknowledged the progress of a ToR that allows a 51% foreign holding stake. (Bangkok Post, 19/4/18)
  4. FPO expects Thai 2018 GDP growth of 4.1%, driven by exports and tourism. (Khao Hoon, 20/4/18
  5. NLA rejects the entire list of NBTC candidates. THE National Legislative Assembly (NLA) yesterday turned down the entire list of 14 candidates contesting the seven board members of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). After more than four hours of closed door discussion, the legislators voted 118 to 25 to reject the list entirely. The scrutinizing committee had found more than half of the candidates had been stakeholders in businesses involved in the areas regulated by the Commission in the past year, thereby disqualifying them from taking the post. (The Nation, 20/4/18)
  6. IMF predicts global growth at 3.9% – with 2020 risks. In the latest update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF still predicts world growth of 3.9% in 2018 and 2019, despite raising its estimates for US and EU growth compared to the January edition. (Bangkok Post, 18/4/18)
  7. Fed’s Dudley: More than four interest rate hikes unlikely this year. The Federal Reserve remains on track to raise interest rates three or four times in 2018, but any more than that would be unlikely, New York Fed President William Dudley said Monday. Market speculation has intensified over how aggressive the central bank will be this year on its path to normalizing monetary policy. Current expectations are for three increases, though traders are watching the trajectory of economic growth and inflation. (CNBC, 17/4/18)
  8. Global debt is at historic highs and governments should start cutting levels now, the IMF says. Global debt hit its highest levels ever and governments should take actions to reduce their indebtedness while the going is still good, the International Monetary Fund said. Total debt levels globally came in at a record $164 trillion in 2016, amounting to 225 percent of the world economy’s gross domestic product, according to the IMF’s April Fiscal Monitor. That level of debt was 12 percentage points steeper than the last historic high seen in 2009 immediately after the global financial crisis. (CNBC, 20/4/18)
  9. U.S. oil, gasoline stocks fall in latest week: EIA. U.S. crude stocks fell last week as refineries cut output, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. Crude inventories fell by 1.1 million barrels in the week to April 13, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 1.4 million barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.1 million barrels, EIA said. (Reuters, 19/4/18)
  10. China says its economy grew 6.8% in the first quarter of 2018, topping expectations. China’s economy grew 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018, the country’s statistics bureau reported on Tuesday. That topped a consensus estimate of 6.7 percent year-over-year growth for the quarter, marking the thirdstraight quarter of 6.8 percent growth for the world’s second-largest economy. Although the headline figure signals a strong start to the year for China, there will be a “roll down in growth going forward,” said David Fernandez, chief Asia Pacific economist at Barclays. (CNBC, 18/4/18)

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