Mekong Monitor: Thai government to reopen all sectors on 1 July
Photo credit: AFP
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Thai government to reopen all sectors on 1 July
(31 May 2020) The Thai government has announced that there would be a complete reopening of the country on 1 July, with all business and activity lockdowns lifted. According to the National Security Council, this would include inter-provincial and international travel. The complete reopening will come after the third phase of the relaxation of the lockdown in June. After the emergency decree ends, other laws will be implemented instead which will focus on face masks, social distancing and limited activities. The details of which businesses will be allowed to resume and under what conditions will be finalised by the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). Curfew hours will be shortened and restrictions on inter-provincial travel will be lifted.
Thai central bank to restrain rising baht
(2 June 2020) The Bank of Thailand has stated it will restrain the rapidly strengthening baht, already one of Asia’s highest climbing currencies as it strengthened to nearly 2% against the US dollar in the past month. Its recent rise was attributed to the country’s seemingly successful containment of COVID-19, with restrictions already being lifted and activities resuming. Thailand’s central bank is concerned that a strong baht may negatively impact the country’s weak economy, especially with regards to exports. The kingdom’s economy has been impacted by the pandemic, with financial experts expecting a more than 6% contraction in 2020.
Myanmar ease restrictions after no new local transmission of COVID-19 in two weeks
(2 June 2020) Most companies, shops, and restaurants in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw have resumed operations on 1 June after Myanmar recorded no new local transmissions of COVID-19 in two weeks. There have also been no reported deaths from COVID-19 in more than a month, with the last recorded death on 29 April. On 28 May, the government allowed gatherings of more than five people at government offices, companies, and schools. Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi stated on 28 May that the public should keep following the instructions and guidelines of COVID-19 preventative measures after restrictions are lifted to help prevent the spread of the disease. Myanmar has reported a total of 228 COVID-19 cases, including 70 imported cases, and 138 recoveries.
Vietnam Airlines resumes all domestic flights after lifting of curfew
(2 June 2020) Vietnam Airlines has resumed all domestic flights, with the number of domestic flights exceeding 300 per day as of 29 May, according to local media reports. The number of flights including cargo service flights now exceeds 350 a day, which is nearly the same as it was in 2019. Vietnam lifted its curfew on 23 April, and the economy has been gradually resuming. In May, Vietnam Airlines added five new routes and is planning on adding another six new routes in June. No date has been set yet for the resumption of international flights, but Vietnam may reopen its international routes before other Southeast Asian countries.
More than three quarters of hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap province hit by COVID-19
(3 June 2020) Around 78% of the hotels and guesthouses in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province (a total of 385 hotels and guesthouses), have been suspended or closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a provincial tourism chief. Prior to the outbreak, the province had a total of 230 hotels and 261 guesthouses, employing nearly 80,000 people and indirectly benefiting over 300,000 people. To relieve the burden on workers, the government has decided to provide some US$70 a month each. The country’s most popular tourist attraction, the Angkor Archaeological Park, received some 386,093 foreign tourists during the first five months of 2020, down 65% from the same period in 2019. It also earned US$18 million from ticket sales during the same period, down 64% from 2019.
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.