1. Public bus fares to rise from Jan 21. Fares for buses serving Bangkok will rise next month by at least one baht and interprovincial buses will charge 10% more to help operators cover rising fleet costs. (Bangkok Post, 14/12/18)
  2. FTA, GSP use rises sharply. The utilization rate of free-trade agreement (FTA) privileges and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) by Thai exporters topped US$62.4 billion (2.05 trillion baht) in the first 10 months of this year, up nearly 9% from the same period last year. (Bangkok Post, 15/12/18)
  3. Car sales in high gear but bumps seen ahead. Thais will buy a million cars in 2018, a second year of strong sales, but growing household debt and an anticipated interest rate hike — potentially on Wednesday — spell a slowdown ahead for one of the country’s main economic drivers. (Reuters, 18/12/18)
  4. Commercial banks to absorb rate hike. Although the Bank of Thailand is likely to begin tightening monetary policy for the first time in over seven years at today’s meeting, high-ranking executives of commercial banks say they won’t pass on higher rates to clients. (Bangkok Post, 19/12/18)
  5. US Federal Reserve raises lending rate; signals slower pace ahead. The US Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, staking its independence despite repeated attacks by President Donald Trump, but it also sent a clear signal it expects take it slow next year in the face of plateauing growth. (AFP, 20/12/18)
  6. EU implements Brexit ‘no deal’ contingency plans. The European Union on Wednesday adopted backup plans to protect air transport and financial markets in the event Britain leaves without a Brexit deal in 100 days. (AFP, 19/12/18)
  7. Italy and markets cheer budget deal with EU, but doubts persist. The European Commission on Wednesday reached a deal with Italy over its 2019 budget, avoiding disciplinary steps against Rome, ending months of verbal sparring and buoying Italian bonds and shares. Under the compromise announced by Commission Vice President, Italy cut its deficit for next year to 2.04% of GDP. It also lowered its economic growth forecast for 2019 to 1.0% from 1.5%. (Reuters, 19/12/18)
  8. Trade war to sap Thai growth. The US-China trade war is expected to shrink Thai export growth by 0.5-1.9% next year, while Thai SMEs should prepare to cope with the likely influx of Chinese products into Asean, including Thailand, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC). (The Nation, 21/12/18)
  9. China suspends extra tariffs on US cars. China pressed on with its trade war truce with the United States on Friday, announcing it would suspend extra tariffs on US-made cars and auto parts for three months from Jan 1. (AFP, 14/12/18)
  10. Macron’s ratings fall further after protests. A month of “yellow vest” protests have taken a further toll on the popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron, a new poll showed Sunday, with analysts saying he will be forced to change his style of governing. (AFP, 16/12/18)

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