Commercial bank competition for deposits is expected to continue intensifying this year since the banks want to peg their deposit rate costs following the Bank of Thailand’s clear signal it would raise the policy interest rate to contain the rising inflation rate, according to a top private banker.
Demand from businesses have increased rapidly over the years in Thailand
Recent crashes in Thailand’s GDP and export markets, plus the drop in tourism fuelled by recession and last year’s domestic political turmoil, have dispelled illusions that the country is insulated from the effects of the global downturn. Numerous indicators of economic health are hitting the red, foreign investment is evaporating, unemployment is surging, and credit lines are freezing up. Thailand’s government still says there is a possibility of positive growth this year, despite facing a rougher ride than in the 1997 Asian financial crisis as conditions infest the real economy on a broader scale.
Imports from new ASEAN member countries also have lower import duties. As part of ASEAN Integration System of Preferences (AISP), tariffs of products such as vinegar, chili, certain vegetables, wood products, and electronic switchboards imported from Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR are either reduced or abolished from September 2008.
Many of these tax privileges were scheduled to expire at the end of this year, but now extended for another one to three years, depending on whether such tools and equipment can be currently locally produced. The government also cancels many parts and components required in assembling chasses used in vehicles that are fueled entirely by natural gas.
External stability in Thailand was upheld by high international reserves, while trade and current account were close to balance. Regarding internal stability, inflation rose from last year in line with higher oil prices, despite a downward trend during the second half of the year. Unemployment rate remained low in Thailand in 2008 but employment started to deteriorate in the forth quarter, particularly in the production sector affected by economic slowdown.