BANGKOK, March 12 (TNA) – Anxieties over the decline in the economy and the spiralling cost of living pushed Thai consumer confidence index in February to fall for the first time since the coalition g…
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Thai consumer confidence index plunges to 7 year low
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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.
Thailand continues to reduce import tariff rates for various products.
These include both universal tariff reductions, which are applicable to goods from all countries, and specific tariff reductions that result from free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries and regions. For example, since June 2008, a wide range of agricultural and manufactured products from ASEAN member countries, China, India, and New Zealand enjoy lower or no tariffs. Among others, they are butter, vegetable extracts and fats, pharmaceutical products, paper and tubes for a medical use, pumps for liquid, air and vacuum pumps, commercial trucks, steel tubes, iron wires, aluminum structures, dish washing machines, weighting machines, and switching circuits and boards parts. In addition, the government will also cut or cancel tariffs for three types of animal feeds (soybean, corn, and fish meals) in 2009. The magnitude of changes varies across different trade agreements, such as those with the WTO, ASEAN, ACMECS28, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
Import tariffs on machinery are waived for regional operating headquarters. The Board of Investment cancels import tariffs on machinery used in conducting research and development activities by regional operating headquarters (ROHs). This is in addition to the existing privileges such as a permission to own land and remit foreign currency abroad as well as preferential corporate and income tax rates. Looking forward, related agencies such as the Revenue Department, the Bank of Thailand, and the Department of Business Development plan to streamline other rules and regulations that help to promote ROHs in Thailand.
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.
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