Will Thailand’s plan for quarantine-free tourism set a global trend?

As part of plans to stimulate a rebound in tourism, some countries have moved to waive compulsory quarantine for international travellers who have received a coronavirus vaccine.

In late March it was announced that, as of July 1, foreigners visiting the popular Thai holiday island of Phuket will be exempt from quarantine upon arrival if they have received two vaccine doses.

  • – As of July 1, vaccinated travellers to Phuket will be exempt from mandatory quarantine
  • – The strategy is being combined with mass vaccinations to trigger a recovery in tourism
  • – The plan could provide a blueprint for the successful resumption of international travel
  • – Governments are increasingly looking towards travel bubbles and quarantine exemptions

Local officials also stated that after one week in Phuket without showing symptoms – and testing negative – tourists would then be able to travel to the rest of the country.

A significant turnaround

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Thailand Approves Latest Economic Relief Package for Businesses

On March 23, 2021, Thailand’s government approved its latest economic relief package, valued at 350 billion baht (US$11.2 billion), to support businesses in the country.

Some 250 billion baht (US$8 billion) was allocated for soft loans while the remaining 100 billion baht (US$3.2 billion) will go towards an ‘asset warehousing’ program whereby debtors can use their assets as loan collateral but will have the right to redeem their assets under a specific time frame.

  • Thailand’s latest relief package aims to improve the liquidity of businesses still impacted by the pandemic through the issuance of soft loans.
  • Businesses can also opt for the asset warehousing program, which allows debtors to use their assets as collateral for loans but have the right to buy back their assets once the financial situation of their business improves.
  • The asset warehousing scheme will last up to five years.

This latest relief package is an extension … Read the rest

Southeast Asia remains a hot spot for plastic pollution

Southeast Asia has emerged as a hot spot for plastic pollution because of rapid urbanization and a rising middle class , whose consumption of plastic products and packaging is growing due to their convenience and versatility.

But local waste management infrastructure has not kept pace, resulting in large quantities of mismanaged waste. COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation due to increased consumption of masks, sanitizer bottles and online delivery packaging.

In Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, more than 75{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} of the material value of recyclable plastic is lost — the equivalent of $6 billion a year when single-use plastic is discarded rather than recovered and recycled, according to a series of landmark studies by the World Bank Group.

With only 18 to 28{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} of recyclable plastic recovered and recycled in these countries, most plastic packaging waste is not only left to pollute the environment, littering beaches and roadsides, but its value … Read the rest

Thailand BOI approves Biotech Projects Worth 2.4 Bln Baht ($78 million)

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) said today it has recently approved new projects in the field of advanced biotechnology, worth a combined 2.4 billion baht (around USD78 million) in investment, reflecting the increased interest of local and foreign investors in the country’s biotech sector.

“These new and exciting projects reflect investors’ continued interest in Thailand biotech capability,” Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI.

“Adding to our strong agricultural base and biodiversity, Thailand has now also a very strong pool of researchers that allow us to move into advanced technology.”

Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of the BOI.

Thai Kyowa Biotechnologies Co., Ltd., a producer of amino acids for pharmaceuticals affiliated to Japan’s Kirin Holdings, received approval for an advanced biotech project to produce Human Milk Oligosaccharide (HMO), a prebiotic and key ingredient in milk powder for infants and adults, helping to build immunity. The fully Japanese-owned company, … Read the rest

The Indonesia-Singapore Bilateral Investment Treaty Comes into Effect

The latest Indonesia-Singapore Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) came into effect on March 9, 2021, and replaces the previous BIT, which was signed in June 2006 and expired in June 2016.

Under the treaty, investors from both countries will enjoy specific legal protection, such as access to international arbitration, thus safeguarding investments and boosting investors’ confidence. The treaty complements the updated double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) signed in February 2020 between the two countries.

Through the upgraded DTAA, the tax rate on branch profits was reduced from 15 to 10 percent, and the tax rate on royalties for copyrighted works of literature, arts, and film, and eight percent for the use of industrial, scientific, or commercial equipment was lowered from 15 to 10 percent.

Indonesia and Singapore have substantive cooperation across a wide range of sectors with bilateral trade reaching S$48.8 billion (US$36.3 billion) in 2020. Further, despite the pandemic, Singapore … Read the rest

Abuse against women still prevalent in Thailand

In December 1999, the United Nations designated Nov 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to commemorate the murder of the Mirabal sisters, the three Dominican political activists who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in 1960.

Today marks the 20th celebration of said day, and therefore it might be worthwhile to review the current situation of violence against women in Thailand.

Like many other Asian countries, Thailand is a patriarchal society in which women are generally tied to the role of family caretaker which usually means raising children and taking care of the elderly, as well as other household chores like cooking and cleaning. Despite having such significant roles in their families, many women in Thailand are still facing domestic violence in their homes.

Statistics from the 1300 hotline of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security shows that, more than 40{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} of … Read the rest

Asia-Pacific sees 3.9{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} growth in deal activity in February 2021

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region saw a 3.9{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} month-on-month growth in deal activity (mergers & acquisitions, private equity and venture financing deals) from 1,126 deals to 1,170 deals in February 2021, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The COVID-19-hit 2020 remained a roller coaster ride for the global deal landscape and APAC was not an exception. The market conditions are expected to remain volatile as the fear of a second wave of COVID-19 in some of the key markets is likely to affect the investor sentiments.

“However, the growth witnessed in February, albeit bit slow, can be a positive sign for the revival of deal-making in the APAC region as investor cautiousness is likely to prevail for some more time.”

Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData

An analysis of GlobalData’s Financial Deals Database reveals that the APAC markets such as India, … Read the rest

Vietnam Lao Cai popularises Sa Pa-Fansipan tourism trademark

 Lao Cai (VNA) –The northern mountainous province of Lao Cai has built a strategy to popularise the Sa Pa- Fansipan tourism trademark till 2025 with a vision to 2030.

Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ha Van Thang said the province now offers six main types of tourism products, namely resort, cultural-community, ecological, agriculture-craft
village, adventure sport and smart tourism products.

However, those products have not been able to create strong impression on visitors. Community tourist products are said to be monotonous, failing to meet visitors’ demand for experience and exploration.

Home to Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina, but the
local tourism industry has not made full use of it for adventure sport tourism.

According to the strategy, Lao Cai expects to have 20 percent of tourists in key markets become aware of the Sa Pa- Fansipan trademark, 50 percent of visitors choosing Lao Cai … Read the rest

Vietnam: Manufacturing to remain the key driver of growth

GDP growth was unchanged at 4.5{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} y/y in Q1. Manufacturing activity surged, while the recovery in service sector activity and construction continued albeit at a more subdued pace as some localised social distancing measures were reinstated.

We expect robust exports, led by strong global demand for electronics, to continue to underpin solid economic growth over the remainder of this year with GDP forecast to rise close to 8{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29}.

GDP rose 4.5{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} y/y Q1, unchanged from the previous quarter as another sharp fall in mining activity partly offset a strong pick-up in the manufacturing sector.

Meanwhile, the recovery in services and construction from Q2 2020’s lows continued, although momentum continued to lag that of the industrial sector with the reintroduction of localised restrictions, including in Hanoi, at the end of January likely weighed on activity.

Positively, Covid restrictions have eased once again, and the vaccination rollout is underway. We expect the … Read the rest

The Future of Asia: greener but with a public and private debt hangover

The Sydney Opera resumed live performances and the city of Melbourne recently hosted the Australian Open tennis tournament with fans (mostly) in attendance.

Japan is back to planning the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics, while China focuses on the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. Having been hit by COVID-19 first, Asia is also recovering first. At the pandemic’s first anniversary, is the region back to full health?

Asia must remain agile and innovative to exit the crisis in a durable, greener, and more equitable way

The best answer is that it is too early to know for sure. The pandemic exacerbated existing long-term issues: slowing productivity growth, growing indebtedness, aging population, rising inequality, and managing climate change. A new IMF staff paper looks into how the region can navigate these multiple challenges.

Long-lasting effects

If past experience is any guide, this pandemic will have long-lasting effects. A look at past recessions in advanced economies … Read the rest