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Youth unemployment hits new highs in Thailand due to COVID-19 restrictions

BANGKOK, Thailand (ILO news) – Joblessness among young men and women in Thailand has reached a level unseen in recent years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new brief from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) WHO Thailand Situation Report - 22 February 2021

The Thailand labour market update  found that youth employment fell by 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 (from the fourth quarter 2019). The youth unemployment rate increased by 3 percentage points for both men and women, reaching a high of 6 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively.

According to the report, pandemic-related restrictions particularly affected employment in smaller establishments with fewer than 50 workers. Youth employment in these establishments suffered the most, falling by 18 per cent for young men and by 24 per cent for young women.

“The impact of COVID-19 on the Thai economy has seen young people and small establishments especially hard hit. Targeted responses focussing on key sectors and segments of the workforce are vital for recovery, as are continuing efforts to ensure everyone receives a vaccination, including migrant workers.”

Graeme Buckley, ILO’s Country Director for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR.

Between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2021, total working hours fell by 7 per cent, or a decline in full-time equivalent employment by 2 million. A fairly strong recovery in working hours and employment in the last half of 2020 was reversed in the first quarter of 2021 due to the re-emerging waves of the pandemic.

A looming concern is that the pandemic has further affected Thailand throughout the second and the third quarters of 2021, and is also biting into the fourth quarter.

In the third quarter of 2021, the stringency of COVID-19 restrictions implemented were equivalent to those in the second quarter of 2020. A similar magnitude of socioeconomic shock as the one seen in the second quarter of 2020 could therefore be expected.

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Ecommerce

Pakorn Peetathawatchai, President, The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)

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Pakorn Peetathawatchai, President, The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)

What measures has SET taken to support listed companies’ compliance with ESG standards?
PAKORN PEETATHAWATCHAI:

PAKORN: When we first began promoting ESG-compliant investments, we were met with little interest. We attributed this to a lack of clear data to showcase the economic benefits of ESG investment, and perhaps limited clarity as to what constitutes a sustainable or ESG-compliant investment. The launch of the THSI list and, subsequently, the SETTHSI Index, was designed to address this. Our most recent data, comparing returns for the SETTHSI Index with the broader SET and SET100 indices from April 2020 to April 2021, underscores the economic benefits of these investments: the group compliant with ESG standards outperformed the other two indices on every data point. 

As of May 2021 Thailand was home to CG and ESG assets under management totalling BT54.8bn ($1.7bn) across 50 funds – up from 23 funds in 2019. Meanwhile, of the BT187.1bn ($5.9bn) raised in green, social and sustainability bonds since 2018, BT136.4bn ($4.3bn) was raised in 2020 – 83% from the government and the remainder from development banks and private players. This rising demand, in a move to manage risk and generate returns, has been complemented by growing supply and promotion: supply from ESG-compliant businesses aiming for resiliency and sustainable growth, as well as promotion from regulators highlighting investment opportunities with good CG and SD practices. Indeed, the pandemic has been a catalyst in shifting the view of ESG compliance from a luxury to a requirement in the new normal.

In what ways can enhanced standard-setting and regulatory mechanisms overcome the remaining barriers to improved ESG performance?

PAKORN: A multi-stakeholder approach is crucial for enhanced ESG performance – not only in Thailand, but around much of the globe. This can also help to address the standout incumbent challenge: access to reliable, wide-ranging ESG data. For example, the 2020 update to the 56-1 One Report established clear ESG standards and triggered online and offline capacity-building programmes to support listed firms’ compliance. SET is developing an ESG data platform with a structured template to promote the availability of comparable data, maximise value added from corporate sustainability disclosures, and foster collaboration between the business value chain and stakeholders. This is expected to support Thai companies along their ESG journey in an economically sustainable way, result in a greater number of sustainability-focused products and services, drive sustainable investing in the Thai investment community and ultimately “make the capital market work for everyone”, as outlined in the SET’s vision.
 

 

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Economics

Thai Chamber of Commerce expects GDP to grow by 1.5% in 2021

With the relaxation of Covid restriction measures and the reopening of Thailand, 200,000 to 300,000 foreign tourists were now expected to visit Thailand this year and contribute to approximately 12 billion baht of income.

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The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s economic forecasting center now expects the Thai economy to expand by 1.5% this year, owing to various government measures to stimulate the economy.

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