Mekong Monitor: Central Bank says Thai economy has bottomed out
Photo Credit: Central Banking
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Central Bank says Thai economy has bottomed out
(2 August 2020) Thailand’s economy appears to have bottomed out but unemployment remains a serious concern, said the Bank of Thailand (BOT). According to BOT senior director Don Nakornthab, the five economic engines, consumption, private investment, exports, imports, and manufacturing, showed signs of improvement in June even though all recorded negative growth. The indicators suggested the economy had bottomed out and, if the recovery continues, the central bank may revise upward its GDP projection, he said. The BOT’s current 2020 GDP projection is an 8.1% contraction. The GDP for the second quarter (April to June) is projected to contract to within a range of 12% to 13%, close to Thailand’s historic plunge of 12.5% in the second quarter of 1998 during the Asian financial crisis. Don added that the easing of the lockdown restrictions contributed to the economic improvement in June. However, if a second wave of COVID-19 infection occurs and leads to another lockdown, the economic recovery would be further disrupted.
“COVID-19-free” health certificate required of foreign diplomats entering Cambodia
(5 August 2020) All foreign diplomats and international organisation officials, who intend to travel to Cambodia will be required to provide a “COVID-19-free” health certificate prior to their departure, the Ministry of Health announced on 5 August. The health certificate must be issued by competent health authorities of the traveller’s country no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel, certifying that he or she did not test positive for the COVID-19. Diplomats and international organisation officials holding diplomatic visa (Visa A) or official visa (Visa B) of Cambodia will still be required to test for COVID-19 when they arrive in Cambodia. The move came after four US embassy officials in Cambodia tested positive for COVID-19 after they recently travelled to the kingdom from the US. According to the Ministry of Health, three of them have recovered so far.
Export of milled rice rises in first seven months of 2020
(2 August 2020) Cambodia exported more than 420,000 tonnes of rice to international markets in the first seven months of 2020, recording a year-on-year increase of more than 38%, according to a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report released on 31 July. Rice exports from Cambodia which passed phytosanitary inspections during the first seven months of 2020 reached 426,073 tonnes, equivalent to a 38.33% increase compared to the same period in 2019. Jasmine and fragrant rice accounted for 79.72% of total rice exports, while white long-grain rice accounted for 18.95%. Long-grain parboiled rice made up 1.32%, followed by red rice (0.01%). China remains the largest market for Cambodian rice with 155,327 tonnes imported, or 36.46% of Cambodia’s total rice exports, followed by the EU (33.85%), ASEAN (13.39%) and other regions (16.30%).
Vietnam’s exports post slight increase in first seven months of 2020
(30 July 2020) Vietnam’s export of goods in the first seven months of 2020 went up 0.2% to US$145.8 billion compared with the same period in 2019, according to the General Statistics Office. Imports fell by 2.9% to US$139.3 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$6.5 billion during that period. Exports by domestic companies recorded strong growth at 13.5% to reach US$50.8 billion while exports by foreign-invested firms fell 5.7% to US$95 billion. Imports by domestic companies rose 1.5% while those in the foreign sector fell 6.2%. During the January-July period, 23 categories of exports earned US$1 billion each and their combined revenues accounted for 87% of Vietnam’s total exports. The US and China remained the largest buyers of Vietnamese goods at US$37.9 billion and US$23.5 billion, respectively.
Myanmar announces new COVID-19 loan programme worth US$74 billion
(29 July 2020) Myanmar’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) launched an additional US$74 billion (K100 billion) fund on 28 July targeted at agriculture and livestock businesses, export/import, manufacturing, supply chain, food & beverage, foreign job agencies and vocational schools. First announced on 27 April, CERP was created with the objective of mitigating the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Myanmar’s most affected sectors such as garment manufacturing, hotels and tourism and small businesses. Since then, the government has amassed additional funds targeted at other business sectors. The loans from the additional US$74 billion fund must be used solely for wages and business operations expenses.
About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.