The Thai Industries Sentiment Index (TISI) jumped to a three-year high from 88.0 points in August to 95.9 points in September, thanks to the continuing recovery of the Thai and global economies, Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman Santi Vilassakdanont said on Tuesday.
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Implementation of Reforms in Thailand
The approved Financial Institution Business Act (FIBA) facilitates increase in foreign ownership in Thai foreign institutions. The Financial Institution Business Act (FIBA) became effective on 3 August 2008 as planned. The FIBA allows financial institutions to raise the foreign limit from 25 percent to 49 percent with permission from the BOT and foreign investors may own more than 49 percent equity stake in Thai banks with permission from the Ministry of Finance and recommendation by the BOT. The increase in foreign limit would encourage Thai banks to seek foreign strategic partners to strengthen the capital base, improve core banking business, IT platform, know-how and add inorganic growth to Thai banks.
The telecommunications sector is in the era of technological convergence. In this context, it is important to note that Thailand’s telecommunications sector is highly concentrated in both the fixedtelephony and broadband access markets with only three to four firms dominating each market. Because of concentration in the sector, it is important to take into account the potential for abuse of market power, particularly in regards to licensing and other regulatory policies. The telecommunications sector has done relatively well in providing access to telephone services through fixedand mobile services at reasonable costs.
The government also uses tariff measures as a tool to promote energy policy. To encourage the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel for vehicles, the government has exempted import duties of many natural gas-related tools and equipment such as bio-fuel conversion kits, natural gas containers, and chasses.
Externally, the trade balance in January 2009 recorded a 1,688 million US dollar surplus. Export value contracted for the third consecutive month while import fell even more rapidly. Export value dropped 25.3 percent (yoy) to 10,382 million US dollars. This was due mainly to contraction across the board except for labour-intensive industries which still expanded from gold export. Import value contracted 36.5 percent (yoy) across the board to 8,694 million US dollars. When accounting for the net services, income, and transfers surplus of 601 million US dollars from lower investment income transfer compared to the previous month, the current account balance registered a 2,289 million US dollar surplus.
Nevertheless, the impact on lending was muted. Commercial banks, concerned about credit risks in a contracting economy, were cautious in lending, while private sector demand for credit generally declined in tandem with economic activity. The rate of increase in loans by commercial deposit-taking institutions slowed from 8.4% in the ifrst quarter to 6.1% in the second. Stock prices as refected in the SET index, afer falling by 48% in 2008, picked up in the second quarter of 2009. The index rose by 45% in the first 8 months of this year, a gain in line with other Asian markets.