Value of exports hit record high in March

Exports rose 7.06 percent year on year in March, lower than the 10.3 percent year on year increase in February, however, the value of exports in March hit a record high at US$22.36 billion. Gains, which were slightly lower than forecast, were strongest in cars and parts, computers and parts, and chemicals. From January to March exports rose 11.29 percent to US$62.83 billion. Exports grew for the 13th straight month in March, due to growth in computers and parts, refined petrol, plastic pellets and electronic circuits. Export values increased with all major trade partners except for China where exports fell by 8.7 percent year on year due to a drop in global rubber prices. Secondary markets also expanded, including India at 21.7 percent, with exports to ASEAN growing 20.7 percent, and the CLMV cluster of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam at 14 percent. The Commerce Ministry is targeting an 8 percent growth this year even as the baht rose 3.9 percent against the US dollar, a four year high against the dollar.

The Western line of the MRT from Hua Lamphong to The Mall Bangkae is scheduled to open in September 2019 as it is at 90 percent completion, and the Tao Poon - Tha Phra stretch by March 2020 while the Green Line of the BTS to Samut Prakan is expected to start running from Samrong to Samut Prakan by the end of December, while the northern stretch from Mo Chit to Khu Kot is expected to be operable in 2020, and by 2021 the Pink Line from Pak Kret to Min Buri, and the Yellow Line from Lat Phrao to Samrong will become operational.. The MRTA will be implementing the EMV Contactless Smart Card as fare payment which will allow passengers with eligible credit or debit cards to tap their card directly at a ticket gate in order to pay for their ride. The MRTA expects the EMV system to be implemented network-wide from 2020 covering MRT, Airport Rail Link, and bus routes as well as connecting with EZ Pass and M-Pass for tollway payments.

The Office of Consumer Protection Bureau announced that starting May 1 electricity and tap water fees at hostels, apartments, and rented rooms in residential buildings will come under legal control which prohibits owners of the premises from overcharging the utility fees. The new protections are intended to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by owners of apartments, hostels or rented rooms who often overcharged their tenants. Under the law, apartment owners cannot charge electricity and tap water above the rates charged by Metropolitan Electricity Authority in Bangkok or the Provincial Electricity Authority in the case of other provinces. Additionally, the new laws which apply to landlords with five units or more, landlords cannot demand more than one month’s rent as a deposit and damage guarantee in excess of one month’s rental fee. Tenants will also be allowed to cancel contracts with one month’s advance notice and landlords will not be allowed to enter a tenant’s premises without warning.

The Airports of Thailand wants the Board of the AOT to demolish the old, unused terminal at Don Mueang International Airport to build a new, larger terminal to cope with increasing passenger capacity. The Board had agreed previously to renovate the old terminal however, the rapid increase in international passengers has resulted in congestion and caused the AOT to reconsider the plan and knock down the old building to build a new one to cope with the increasing international demand. The AOT predicts construction would take two years and the new terminal would open by 2021 and handle 40 million passengers a year.

Work Permit

Any foreigner working in Thailand must obtain a Work Permit before beginning work. While a prospective employer may file an application on the foreigner’s behalf in advance of his starting work, the actual Work Permit will not be issued until the foreigner has entered Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws and has presented himself to receive his Work Permit.

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