An 11-year-old girl was the youngest victim of human trafficking crimes that were found mostly in Chaing Rai, Samut Sakhon, Songkhla and Pattani while immigrant workers were continuously lured to serve on fishing boats, as there was a 10,000 position labour shortage in the industry.
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Thailand and Burma to sign pact on anti-human trafficking issues
Thailand is among the region’s more open economies, with exports accounting for around 65% of gross domestic product (GDP)
Concerns are already rising that big foreign manufacturers, faced with financial problems in their home countries and declining regional demand for their products, could permanently shutter their Thailand-based facilities. Those worries intensified earlier this month when Japanese automotive and motorcycle producer Suzuki announced plans to close its Thailand operations. Ailing US auto giant General Motors’ local affiliate also raised eyebrows when it requested and was declined a 3 billion baht loan from Thailand’s Ministry of Industry for a diesel engine project.
Thailand’s banks and finance companies were at the heart of the country’s 1997 collapse
With average factory usage rates mired at 60%, demand for new capital expenditure bank loans will likely be muted throughout 2009. Industrial output was down 7.7% in November and fell another 18% in December. UBS noted in a recent report that the decline in manufacturing over the second half of last year was steeper than the entire fall during the worst 18 month period of the 1997-98 financial crisis.
While Thailand exported itself out of crisis after the 1997-98 collapse, current global economic turmoil – including a near collapse in global trade – has significantly narrowed potential paths to recovery. Economists contend that a small trade-geared economy like Thailand can only marginally replace the revenues and jobs lost from falling exports by stimulating more domestic demand-led economic growth.
New Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government has responded to the crisis with vigorous fiscal pump priming, including direct cash injections into the grass roots economy. With public debt at 23% of GDP, international reserves at US$110 billion, and 2008 balanced budget, the government arguably has plenty of fiscal room to maneuver.
In January the Cabinet approved a 117 billion baht supplementary budget, which included various measures aimed at buoying the economy, including cash 2,000 baht handouts to nine million civil servants and workers nationwide, job creation programs and community investment funds.
The same protest group occupied Government House for nearly three months beginning last August, effectively crippling the workings of two different Thaksin-affiliated governments. A modicum of stability has returned with the formation of Abhisit’s coalition government, which is believed to have military backing and has prioritized restoring foreign confidence.
Investor confidence has not yet fully recovered from the military appointed administration’s surprise move in December 2006 to impose and then retract capital controls on foreign equity, bond and currency transactions. A nationalistic motion the following year to amend the Foreign Business Act spooked Japanese investors, many of whom have their Thailand operations structured in a way legislators aimed to ban.
Indeed grass roots competition for government resources is intensifying. For instance the Farmers Rehabilitation and Development Fund is seeking 17.2 billion baht from the cabinet to buy back debts owned by over 62,000 farmers and rehabilitation and occupational training programs. During the 1997-98 financial crisis, a large number of unemployed factory and service sector workers returned to the rural countryside to eke out a subsistence living working in their relations’ fields. Agriculture currently accounts for 11% of GDP.
Higher agricultural prices drove up farm incomes during the first half of 2008, but fell sharply in the second half in line with declining global commodity prices. As the local economy slows and unemployment rates rise, it’s not clear that the rural sector will with falling food prices have the same absorptive capacity it did in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.
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Thailand Approves Package to Attract Wealthy Foreigners and Professionals
Thailand’s Cabinet has approved an economic stimulus and investment promotion package aimed at attracting wealthy foreigners and highly skilled professionals from overseas to help revive the post-COVID economy.
Thailand’s Cabinet has approved an economic stimulus and investment promotion package aimed at attracting wealthy foreigners and highly skilled professionals from overseas to help revive the post-COVID economy.(more…)
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