Thailand first in top countries to do business
A recent US News & World Report ranking the best countries in the world saw Thailand come out first on the list of the Top Five Countries to do Business. Following Thailand were Malaysia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Singapore. Thailand has a low business density and it takes only five days to start a business the report stated. It was tanked among the top most affordable countries but the report pointed out that companies not Thai owned are subject to the Foreign Business Act. The report surveyed 6,000 business decision makers and rated affordability, bureaucracy, manufacturing costs, connection to the rest of the world and ease of access to capital. Last November the World Bank placed Thailand 26th on the Ease of Doing Business list.
Qatar Airways launched direct flights from Doha to U-Tapao International Airport, serving Pattaya and the region, last week. The airline is the first Middle Eastern airline to offer direct flights to the airport and considers it the cornerstone of serving not only the tourist destination of Pattaya but also the Eastern Economic Corridor. The airline will fly to U-Tapao four times a week. The airline also added direct Doha – Chiang Mai flights last month. NokScoot, the low cost carrier operating out of Don Mueang International Airport, is also looking to expand its international flights, with plans to add direct flights from Bangkok to Japan, South Korea, and India this year. The airline looks to add flights to Narita and Osaka in Japan and Incheon in South Korea in the second quarter while flights to Mumbai are planned for the second half of the year.
The Finance Ministry raised its economic forecast growth from 3.8 percent to 4.2 percent and predicted that exports will grow 6.6 percent in 2018. The preliminary figures for 2017 show the GDP grew 4 percent. The Finance Ministry believes the strong baht will not have an effect on exports as the economies of Thailand’s trading partners remains strong. The Ministry believes the Central Bank will keep the policy rate unchanged; the BOT meets later this month but is not expected to change the policy rate from the current 1.5 percent. In December the economy grew due to a 9.3 percent rise in exports month on month and a 15.5 percent jump in the number of incoming tourists compared to November with growth in arrivals coming from China and Malaysia as well as an increase in numbers from Russia.
New daily minimum wages are due to take effect on April 1, 2018 after the Cabinet approved the Ministry of Labor’s proposal to increase the daily minimum wage by 5 - 22 baht on a provincial basis. To mitigate the effect on small to medium enterprises, the cabinet also approved three measures; tax reduction for business or industrial enterprises which have annual revenue not exceeding 100 million baht and have no more than 200 employees. These enterprises are eligible to deduct 1.5 times of the amount of the wages paid to their employees from their taxable revenues. The Cabinet approved a 5 billion baht fund to organize seminars and training programs for about 50,000 SMEs. The third measure will exempt 50 percent corporate income tax for three years for business operators who bring in machinery, internet or digital system for use in the management of their business.