By Erich Parpart
JAPANESE BUSINESS operators and investors are keeping a watchful eye on the development of the junta's economic policies and its reform road map, but believe business performance will improve in the second half thanks to rising confidence and increased co
The Kingdom’s economy is improving on an increase in exports resulting from the global economic recovery, the return of tourists after the lifting of the curfew, and increased consumption and investment due to greater political stability and more certainty over public investment plans, said Setsuo Iuchi, chairman of JCC-Economic Survey.
“The Thai economy had slowed down due to the [previous] political uncertainty, but the current political situation is positive and the JCCB expects the economy to do better in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, investments from Japanese investors and business operators continue to be stable and, if the country’s reform plans progress in the next period, they will help drive the economy and investments will expand in the future,” he said.
Iuchi explained that the main ingredient helping the current economic recovery was consumption and, if this could be incorporated with positive developments flowing from the economic-reform plans, the economy would continue to grow.
The JCCB sincerely hopes that the political situation experienced during most of the first half of the year will not return, and says Thai citizens need to discuss among one another how to move forward together as a united country, he added.
He said the elements of the National Council for Peace and Order’s reform plans that the JCCB and Japanese operators are keeping a particularly watchful eye on are an increase in transparency of the work process of the Thai authorities, especially in regard to customs procedure: an increase in terms of connectivity with neighbouring countries, and the development of infrastructure in Bangkok; enhancement of visa and work-permit procedures, along with a relaxation of the Foreign Business Act; an improvement in education and human-resource development; and the implementation of flood-prevention measures.
“The latest survey of the JCCB shows that the country’s political turmoil affected the economy, and everybody hopes that this conflict will not repeat itself in the future … but on the investment side, Japanese operators do not believe that the political risk has affected investment sentiment, and they will continue to invest in Thailand in the future,” he stressed.
The JCCB survey of the business sentiment of Japanese corporates with a base in Thailand was conducted among 423 companies from May 21 to June 20.
It found that 68 per cent of respondents did not feel the political turmoil had affected their investment plans and that they would continue to see Thailand as a manufacturing hub and base for exports to other Asean countries.
The survey also found that 9 per cent of respondents were considering establishing a research-and-development site or technical centre in the Kingdom.