Thailand’s FM reassures Japanese investors over economic policies



Tuesday, February 27, 2007

TOKYO : Thailand’s Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram says the timetable for the country’s return to democracy is on track.

He was speaking in Japan, where he is on a four-day visit to reassure one of the kingdom’s most important trading partners.

Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsongram is in Tokyo for the launch of
the ceremony to mark the 120th anniversary of Japan-Thailand relations.

But equally high on his agenda is the mending of economic ties.

Japan has long been Thailand’s largest trading partner.

In 2003, the two countries launched talks for a free trade agreement.

And the two Prime Ministers at the time, Mr Koizumi and Mr Thaksin were all set to officially sign the papers.

But due to the September coup, talks have stalled.

And Japanese officials say that progress can only be made after Thailand proves to be stable.

Mr Nitya painted a rosy picture of the Thai economy.

The stock market, he says, is back on track, growth rate is predicted to be 4 to 5 percent, and unemployment is below 2 percent.

On the corporate level, he gave the assurance that Japanese
companies that have been operating in Thailand can continue on as
before.

Mr Nitya said: “The Thai government has told them that you do
have time to make adjustments and we will help you. You have actually
up to two years to make all the necessary adjustments. And to continue
your enterprise, completely above board, within the law.”

In terms of Thailand’s political outlook, Mr Nitya said the
drafting process for the new constitution has begun for completion by
July this year.

It will be put to a national referendum, and a new constitution will pave the way for the general elections.

Mr Nitya said: “In one year’s time I will say my farewell. And
I don’t think that there’s any ifs, ands or buts. We’re here to do the
job that was left undone. And had been left undone for over 10 months
in 2006 last year.”

And to prove that, he says he is ready to enjoy his holidays in Hawaii at the end of this year.

Mr Nitya also comments on Singapore-Thailand relations.

He says he is hopeful that the Kingdom’s relations with Singapore will be mended soon.

Ties were strained in January after former Thai Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra visited Singapore and met privately with Singapore’s
Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar.

Mr Nitya says he feels ties will get back on track in the tradition of ASEAN friendship and goodwill.

He adds: “Both Singapore and Thailand are neighbouring
countries. And we value the friendship that we both have. Perhaps that
incident spawned a little…misunderstanding. Let me say that these
things we have to live through and find ways to get back.

“Let me say, different aspects of our bilateral relationship
goes on without interruption. So one hopes and with goodwill and
friendship that is traditional to both our ASEAN countries will get
back on track very very soon.”
 



Thailand’s election timeline is intact, foreign minister says

Thailand’s
foreign minister sought on Tuesday to dispel doubts about whether a
general election promised by his country’s army within 12 months of
last September’s coup would take place as planned.

“We have set a
timeline for ourselves… In one year’s time, I will say my farewell
and I don’t think there are any ifs, ands or buts,” Foreign Minister
Nitya Pibulsonggram told reporters in Tokyo, where he was on a four-day
official visit.

“I’m preparing to buy a ticket to Hawaii at
the end of the year, taking my exit from this government,” he said.
Nitya, a former ambassador to Washington, was appointed to the cabinet in October after the Sept. 19 coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Japan is Thailand’s biggest trading partner, with two-way flows topping
US$38 billion in 2006, and Nitya said the country was open to foreign
investment despite concerns over capital controls and political
uncertainty. “Thailand has always been, continues to remain and will
always be an open market economy,” he said.

“We are committed to enhanced economic interaction with the international marketplace.”

He added investors were confident in Thai financial markets, sayi ng stocks and the baht currency were stable.


Yahoo! Singapore - News

 

Sunday February 25, 8:49 PM

Thai PM defends economic policies



AFP
 Photo

Thailand’s military-installed premier has defended a series of
shifts in the country’s economic policies, saying investor confidence
will not be undermined in the kingdom, state media reported Sunday.

The government of Surayud Chulanot has presided over an array of
changes, including limits on capital inflows and an overhaul of a law
governing foreign investments, although it has reversed key parts of
the policies after protests.

“I think the growth rate of the Thai economy is not that bad at four
(percent) plus,” Surayud told Malaysia’s official Bernama news agency
in an interview.

“We are quite sure of what we are doing at the moment. I am satisfied with what we are doing at the moment,” he said.

Surayud’s comments followed the resignation Wednesday of Somkid
Jatusripitak, the head of the military government’s new economics team,
less than a week after his appointment.

Analysts said his departure would only heighten investors’ concerns
about Surayud’s stewardship of the country’s economy amidst uncertainty
over his policies and a number of policy U-turns.

In the spotlight are proposed changes to the Foreign Business Act,
which would limit foreign investors to holding not more than 50 percent
of the shares and voting rights in companies.

Business leaders have said the proposals have left foreign firms uncertain and confused about the impact of the revised law.

But Surayud, in a bid to reassure investors, said the amendments
were “still in the pipeline” and that the government would listen to
their concerns.

“We are trying to let them have a channel to voice their concerns
with the drafting committee. If we think that it is appropriate to make
some amendments, we will also accept them,” he said.

Surayud also defended limits to foreign shareholdings, saying
foreign investors had tried to skirt limits on ownership by indirectly
using nominee Thai companies to buy shares.

“We are trying to make it open and clear to all,” he said.

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