Businesses optimistic of stronger economy next year, survey finds

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THAI businesses are optimistic of economic growth next year as the service and industrial sectors boom, while their confidence that the economy will improve during the final two quarters of this year is also rising, a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) has found.

The recent bombings in several provinces south of Bangkok should not dent the Thai economy, but will have short-term impacts on people’s confidence and the retail sector.

In its survey of 600 enterprises, the UTCC found that businesspeople still had confidence that the economy would grow more strongly next year on rising sales in the tourism and service sectors, followed by the manufacturing sector. However, the agricultural sector has not brightened much yet despite higher crop prices, as farmers still have low incomes compared with several previous years.

“The Thai economy is heading towards more expansion in the second half of this year and next year. Businesses have foreseen that their incomes are [will be] on the rise as they expect more orders in the following [remaining] quarters and through next year,” said Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the UTCC’s Economic and Business Forecasting Centre.

The centre believes that the bombings will only cut growth in gross domestic product by 0.05-0.07 percentage point, causing a loss of Bt8.38 billion to Bt10.57 billion to the economy. Income in the tourism sector will shrink by Bt6.05 billion.

Overall, the UTCC has maintained its GDP growth forecast for this year at 3.3-3.5 per cent.

Thanavath said the bombings would result in consumers and tourists being more cautious in their daily travels, and would affect retailers for only a month or two. The incidents should not affect travelling during the high season in the Southern region.

During the short-term impact period, retail-sector sales in the South will decrease by Bt75.38 million a day. The total number of foreign visitors to the Kingdom should not be affected, while fewer than 125,000 tourists will cancel their bookings in the southern provinces, and some of them will return in the near future, he said.

The centre says the Business Confidence Index for this year is averaging 98.3 points, while the confidence index for next year is up to 119.5 points. A score higher than 100 points reflects strong confidence.

Businesspeople also foresee that sales, employment and orders will all increase next year. However, profits will not rise significantly as the costs of production are also climbing.

The survey also found that the fluctuating exchange rate was a concern, particularly for export enterprises and manufacturers. They said the appropriate value of the baht was around 35.5 per US dollar.

The poll also showed that most enterprises have little understanding about the government’s “Thailand 4.0” policy, which will focus on innovation and high technology.

The survey found that 55.4 per cent of businesspeople have only a dim understanding of the policy, 26.7 per cent have moderate understanding, and 17.9 per cent have high understanding.

Respondents called for the government to support human-resource development, solve obstructions to trade, and encourage product quality that meets international market standards.

Prayut govt ‘the most popular in years’

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



Poll respondents concerned about economy, southern insurgency and morality.

THE military-led government is more popular than any other administration in recent times, but its popularity comes at a time when people are concerned about economic downturn, the insurgency in the far South and the public’s rights, according to results of a Suan Dusit poll released yesterday.

Of 1,254 people surveyed across the country, almost 78 per cent like Prime Minister GeneralPrayut Chan-o-cha’s government for its decisiveness, demonstration of clear working timelines and anti-graft policies.

The junta government proved more popular than the Thaksin Shinawatra government, which was favoured by 70 per cent of respondents surveyed for the good economy under its stewardship, its populist policies and the country’s international standing at the time.

The Abhisit Vejjajiva, Chuan Leekpai and Yingluck Shinawatra governments polled 63 per cent, 59 per cent, and 54 per cent respectively.

The survey was conducted from Monday to Saturday under the title “People’s opinions toward Thai governments”.

When asked what has worsened during Prayut‘s rule, 76 per cent pointed to the economy and prices for agricultural goods, almost 67 per cent said Southern insurgency and bombing incidents, and more than 56 per cent said rising conflicts and controls over people’s rights and freedom.

Asked what has remained unchanged, almost 81 per cent said expensive living costs, nearly 80 per cent highlighted fractious politics, and more than 60 per cent said crime issues and declining social morality.

Asked what political issues interested them, more than 83 per cent said the use of the interim charter’s Article 44 in suppressing corrupt civil servants and politicians as a quick way to deal with the country’s prominent problems.

Almost 75 per cent focused on the charter draft and registration of political parties as they wanted the national election to happen soon; 68 per cent pointed to the long-running Southern insurgency and bombings because they want peace returned; while more than 67 per cent were interested in the Prayut administration, and nearly 56 per cent sought news on possible graft related to state-budget management.

Meanwhile, Bangkok Poll results revealed yesterday that of 1,156 people surveyed countrywide, more than 26 per cent would support Prayut staying on as premier in a national election, while almost 4 per cent would back Yingluck and Abhisit.

The survey was conducted under the title “Popularity of Thai political parties a month after the referendum on the charter draft”.

Asked what political party they favoured, almost 17 per cent went for the Democrats, 15 per cent preferred Pheu Thai and 1 per cent said Chart Thai Pattana. All parties had declining popularity compared with a May survey, Bangkok Poll said.

“Populist policies could be good”

Almost 60 per cent of surveyed people disagree with parties’ pro-populism approach, as they believed it benefitted only certain groups, while 32 per cent agreed with it. Around 64 per cent, however, agreed if parties use populist policies in creative ways to solve issues relating to expensive living costs, agriculture and education.

In a related development, Super Poll yesterday released results of a survey conducted under the title “[The referendum’s] additional question and public confusion and concerns”. The question, approved in the referendum, calls for the two houses in Parliamentary to jointly select the prime minister.

Legal experts are considering the question based on what extent it should be interpreted and how the charter draft should be amended accordingly. The junta government has voiced its proposals to charter drafters on the issue.

Of the 1,559 people surveyed nationwide from Monday to Saturday, almost 86 per cent admitted to confusion on the issue and nearly 65 per cent – 5 per cent more than those surveyed last month – also admitted to being worried over the issue.

Asked for public suggestions on the issue, almost 55 per cent wanted responsible officials to reach a mutual agreement before presenting the matter to the public, 48 per cent wanted to hear useful information from the government, nearly 42 per cent said political blocs should seek common ground, and more than 38 per cent said the government should not spark political conflict.

US business in Asean optimistic about increased profits

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


US companies remain generally optimistic about business prospects in Asean, even in the face of global economic headwinds and challenges, according to the annual Asean Business Outlook Survey released by the US Chamber of Commerce and the US chambers in Asean member countries.

In a poll of senior executives representing US companies in all 10 Asean countries, 78 per cent said they expected their profits to increase next year, with more than half (53 per cent) reporting thatAsean markets had become more important for their companies’ global bottom line.

Close to half of the surveyed companies (49 per cent) expect to increase their Asean workforce by the end of this year.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (87 per cent) expect that their companies’ level of trade and investment in Asean will increase over the next five years.

In Thailand, seven in 10 executives expect profits in the region to increase next year, up from the 50 per cent who were optimistic about increased profits in last year’s survey.

In a worrying trend, however, 35 per cent of respondents described the overall investment environment in this country as deteriorating. By contrast, a significant majority of those surveyed in Cambodia (65 per cent), Myanmar (70 per cent), the Philippines (77 per cent) and Vietnam (72 per cent) characterised the investment environment in their respective countries as improving.

Respondents in Thailand identify corruption, local protectionism, lack of a stable government and political system, and the difficulty of moving goods through customs as the biggest impediments to doing business here.

“The Royal Thai Government understands that due to regional development trends and global free-trade agreements, the region is becoming increasingly competitive, and has consequently made efforts to improve the business environment and attract foreign direct investment,” said Brad Middleton, president of AMCHAM Thailand.

“The government’s measures and strategies range from providing incentives for regional headquarters and start-ups to developing the country’s digital economy. We applaud these measures and urge the government to do more to stimulate the economy and encourage investment, such as relax visa rules, improve protection of intellectual-property rights, and synchronise customs rules with international best practices.

“AMCHAM is at the government’s disposal to provide consultation [and] expertise and share best business practices.”

American executives in Thailand are of the opinion that increased political stability and regional and global integration will have a positive impact on the ease of doing business in Thailand.

Some 82 per cent of those surveyed reported that the ongoing political stalemate was affecting their business, while 83 per cent believe that Thailand should join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Myanmar consumers trust quality of Thai products, survey finds

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


SANTIPHONG Pimolsaengsuriya, chief executive officer of Havas Riverorchid, a marketing communication specialist in the CLMV markets (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam), said Myanmar’s potential was clear from a survey the group did in May.

It involved 504 respondents in Myanmar, who rated their trust in products made locally and from major exporters including Thailand, Singapore, China, Japan, the United States, South Korea, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The study showed Myanmar consumers’ trust in the quality of Thai products was the same as for products from Japan and Singapore. In terms of trust in the image, Thai products were rated as high as those from Japan.

“Given the above-mentioned advantage of Thai products in Myanmar, we suggest that leading Thai brands enter the market when they are ready,” Santiphong said.

“Makers of products without brand names or brands that are not yet well known, including producers who make merchandise for branded products, can also expand their business in Myanmar. However, despite the competitive advantage, all producers need to build their brands consistently, together with carrying out marketing activities.” He said social values also had a great influence on consumer behaviour in Myanmar. This was underscored in a study Havas Riverorchid conducted last year titled “Ten Consumer Megatrends in Myanmar”.

One notable example is the “fear fatigue” that has accompanied the rapid opening up of the country to the outside world. The rapid influx of new things naturally makes people suspicious and even a bit fearful. Consequently, it is important for entrepreneurs to make an extra effort to gain consumers’ trust in products and services that are new to them.

An effective approach is helping consumers to understand their problems, and clearly demonstrate how the company’s products or services can respond to such problems.

Bangkok coffee shops ‘have room for improvement’

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


GOING TO A coffee shop has become a new trend in Bangkok, but finding a good one can be a challenge, and it is even harder to please every coffee lover. A survey by International Service Check looked for the best places to take a break.

The average score across all coffee shops in Bangkok was not impressive, and almost half had only a few customers inside. Many customers said most coffee shops failed to deliver despite their good design.

Moreover, their positive feeling dampened when they entered the shop, as the survey reveals that only 10 per cent of customers were satisfied with the service.

Overall, the area where most coffee shops in Bangkok are rated highly is speed and accuracy. Consumers were pleased that there beverages were served within an average of 5.5 minutes in exactly the type and size they ordered.

In contrast, the worst rating was for “loyalty building”. It appears many brands in Thailand have difficulty keeping loyal customers.

Fewer than one-third of the coffee shops tested had a loyalty programme that was actively promoted. Of those that do run loyalty programmes, only one out of five actively encourages customers to take advantage of promotions.

The farewell was also not the coffee shops’ strength.

More than 75 per cent of customers were not said goodbye to in what they felt was an appropriate manner, and some were not said goodbye to at all.

Youth hooked on mobile messaging but preference varies

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


WHILE MOST TIME is spent on messaging apps, today’s young consumers still rate mobile-phone SMS (short message service) and calls as intrinsic to their communication habits, according to a study. And there’s a new challenger on the market as Internet calls gain momentum in Asia, particularly in Thailand.

In a Telenor Research study conducted last November and December, mobile users aged 16-35 years in Telenor Group’s markets in Asia and Europe were interviewed about their mobile communication habits.

The interviewees, identified as “digital front runners”, were from Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Norway, Sweden, Serbia and Hungary.

The way this group uses the Internet on their mobiles gives good indications on the future developments of communications services and how the wider demographic in the respective countries will adopt mobile Internet in the years ahead.

“Compared [with] our previous surveys of digital front runners, we observe a general trend towards increased use of Internet-based communication on mobiles,” said Bjorn Taale Sandberg, head of Telenor Research. “However, the survey shows that the preferences differ from market to market.

“Traditional telco services like voice calls and SMS are still an important part of the communication habits in most of the surveyed countries.” Despite not dominating in the time spent on them, traditional mobile calls are seen as the most important service type in all the countries except Malaysia.

In that country, a major shift has already happened in the communication market, but Thailand and Serbia seem to be hot on their heels.

Thailand and Malaysia are the most digital of Telenor’s surveyed markets. Malaysians stand out as the most eager users of messaging apps, with the majority (62 per cent) ranking them as the most important communication tool.

More than 80 per cent of the Malaysian front runners use messaging apps on a daily basis compared with 49 per cent for SMS. Looking back to the same survey in 2012, the numbers were reversed.

This strong position of messaging apps today is mainly due to the success of WhatsApp among Malaysian front runners. In Thailand, Internet voice calling (32 per cent) is a close competitor to ordinary mobile calls (35 per cent) as the “most important” communication tool.

Workers’ debts hit 8-year high while employers oppose raising minimum wage

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


WITH SLUGGISH economic growth and rising cost of living while the minimum wage has been frozen for four years, blue-collar workers’ debts have risen to the highest level in eight years, according to a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).

This rising debt burden among labourers implies that consumers have low spending power, hindering business growth.

To relieve this problem, workers have called for an increase in the daily minimum wage. However, most businesses are against the idea, saying a time of sluggish economic growth is not suitable for raising the minimum wage.

Many labourers have found that their incomes are insufficient to cover their cost of living. Thus, more people are turning to loan sharks this year, Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the UTCC’s Economic and Business Forecasting Centre, said yesterday.

“The debt burden among labourers is the worst in eight years, since 2009. With low liquidity, low-income people have to turn to loan sharks, and this creates more financial and social problems,” he said.

Based on a survey of 1,212 workers whose monthly incomes were less than Bt15,000, almost 96 per cent of labourers carry a debt burden. Average debt per household is Bt119,061. About 60 per cent of this is in the form of underground loans, and the rest is owed to banks or other financial institutions.

More than 83 per cent said they had sometimes fallen behind on their debt payments.

The survey found that a suitable minimum wage for daily workers this year is Bt356.

Reasons that blue-collar workers have to borrow are daily expenses, housing, paying back previous debts, and vehicles, in that order.

At the same time, labourers have realised that with slow economic growth, they are at higher risk of unemployment. Thus, to ensure that businesses can survive while incomes are sufficient, labourers said wages could be adjusted based on the costs in each area of utilities, food, travel, interest, and rent.

The survey also found that spending by Thais during the coming Labour Day weekend was expected to rise by 2.7 per cent to Bt2.05 billion compared with last year’s May 1 holiday.

Meanwhile, in a separate survey by the UTCC derived from 600 business respondents, most foresee that overall business growth will be slow during the first two quarters. They expect better business performance in the second half of this year, so they may consider investing and expanding their business in the third quarter.

More than 70 per cent of business respondents said now was not a suitable time to increase the minimum wage, while only 28 per cent said wages could be increased.

A suitable minimum daily wage according to employers is Bt310. If wages are increased, enterprises say they will need to increase prices, reduce staff numbers, employ more foreign workers, use more machinery, move their plants or close down altogether.

To help reduce employers’ burdens, they called for the government to adjust the minimum wage gradually based on each area’s necessities, reduce corporate income tax, and help increase labour skills.

UTCC urges help for farmers and labourers

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


DESPITE negative inflation during the past year, Thai farmers and labourers face inadequate incomes, leaving many of them with a debt problem due to a continued rise in the cost of key items, a three-year freeze on the daily minimum wage, and lower earnings because of the drought, according to a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).

As a result, the economy this year could expand by less than 3 per cent as consumers have low purchasing power, the UTCC said.

To stimulate economic growth, the government should consider raising the daily minimum wage of Bt300 by 5-7 per cent – depending on the area – to cover the cost of living, it suggested.

The government should also accelerate mega-project investment in order to promote employment, Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the UTCC’s Economic and Business Forecasting Centre, said yesterday.

Based on a survey among 1,356 respondents from March 2 to April 11, the UTCC found that farmers and labourers, whose incomes are less than Bt20,000 per household a month, are facing financial liquidity problems and inadequate earnings.

The survey also found that the prices of nine key foods and consumer goods had increased during the past year, resulting in higher outlays for labourers, farmers and salaried workers.

The nine products are pork and chicken meat, seafood, fruits, cooked food, fast food, street food, noodles, agricultural products and equipment, and school and tutoring fees.

The average monthly income for a Thai household this year is only Bt21,157, against Bt26,915 last year, Thanavath said.

In order to cover the rising cost of living, the government may have to consider adjusting the daily minimum wage in each area by 5-7 per cent to help low-income people, as it had been frozen at Bt300 for three years, he added.

Moreover, the government should find ways to promote additional income among farmers during the ongoing drought, as they are currently suffer-|ing from lower earnings, the director said.

The UTCC has also estimated that the drought will cause a loss of about Bt200 billion to the economy, which would mean economic growth of less than 3 per cent this year, he said.

Meanwhile, the Internal Trade Department has asked the makers and suppliers of chemical fertiliser to reduce retail prices by 7-15 per cent, or about Bt10-Bt30 per 50-kilogram sack, with immediate effect.

The price reduction will lower farmers’ production costs during the remainder of the year.

Good jobs tops list of company responsibilities, say consumers

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


The three most important responsibilities for companies today, in the eyes of consumers, are providing good jobs, producing good products or services and being environmentally responsible.

In a survey conducted by Gfk of more than 27,000 Internet users across 22 countries, respondents were asked to choose three key company responsibilities from a list ranging from protecting the health and safety of workers to advertising honestly and providing good returns for shareholders.

Most male respondents selected the environment ahead of health and safety, while both men and women found providing good jobs important – 47 per cent of women and 46 per cent of men. Both agreed that producing good products and services was also important (41 per cent each)

However, slightly more women chose “protecting the health and safety of workers” (40 per cent) than “being environmentally responsible” (39 per cent), while it was the other way around for men, with 36 per cent selecting the environment versus 34 per cent choosing health and safety.

There was a strong gender difference further down in the list, with significantly more men choosing “investing in research and technology”, standing at 21 per cent compared to 13 per cent of women.

Meanwhile, respondents in the UK and Belgium focused on the importance of companies paying their fair share of taxes. Over a third of the online population in each country (36 per cent and 35 per cent respectively) selected this as one of their three choices – making it the second highest focus in Belgium and the third highest in the UK.

Sweden, China and Hong Kong have the highest levels of people who see protecting the health and safety of its workers as one of the top three responsibilities for any company (50 per cent, 47 per cent and 46 per cent respectively).

These findings are essential for all corporations, to ensure they invest in areas that matter the most to consumers in each country.

Thais spending more time reading: survey

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


people using their smartphones on the platform of a BTS train station in Bangkok./ Photo by AFP

people using their smartphones on the platform of a BTS train station in Bangkok./ Photo by AFP

Latest survey includes FB and Twitter; print media found to be most popular.

LATEST statistics show that Thais on average now spend 66 minutes per day reading, nearly double the 37 minutes they were found to spend reading two years ago. These figures were revealed at the 43rd National Book Fair held in Bangkok, which ends on April 10.

Some 78 per cent of the population or nearly 50 million people were found to be readers, and the most avid ones were between the ages of 15 and 24, National Statistic Office (NSO) director Pattama Amorn-sirisomboon told the press at the Queen Sirikit National Convention.

Habits of youth

The youths spend approximately 94 minutes reading daily, while children under the age of six spent 71 minutes, working age people spent 61 minutes and the elderly 44 minutes, Pattama said, citing results of the latest survey.


The survey was conducted by Thailand Knowledge Park (TK Park) and NSO on 55,920 households from May-June 2015.

“Judging from these statistics, people should forget the idea that ‘Thais only read eight lines a year’, because people are actually reading a lot more and the time they spend reading is only increasing,” Wattanachai Winichakul, chief of TK Park’s academic department, said.

Newspapers remain the most popular reading material at 67.3 per cent followed by online media/SMS/emails at 51.6 per cent, the study said. The top three subjects that people read are news, general knowledge and entertainment. It was also reported that 96.1 per cent of the respondents read traditional media such as books and newspapers, while 55 per cent opted for digital media, which suggests that Thais still prefer reading printed material, the survey showed.

As for the 14 million people who do not read, the reasons cited were preferring to watch TV (41.9 per cent); lack of time (24.6 per cent); dislike for reading (24.8 per cent) and illiteracy (20.6 per cent).

“The most effective way to encourage reading is through family. Parents should instil the love of reading in their children since a young age so they can be naturally drawn to reading,” Pattama said. Other measures included a reading campaign at school, setting up libraries at communities, encouraging publishers to come up with interesting, easy-to-read books with appealing covers.

This survey is conducted every two years, and the latest one included reading Facebook and Twitter entries.