Thailand’s Central Bank Increases Key Interest Rate to Highest Point in Nine Years

The Bank of Thailand has raised its key interest rate to a nine-year high of 2.25% due to concerns about rising prices.

Despite inflation easing and falling below the central bank’s target, policymakers aim to ensure it remains low. The central bank expects the economy to continue growing, driven by tourism and private consumption, but warns of risks from weak exports and political uncertainty.

They anticipate a rebound in inflation in the second half of the year and believe this rate hike will be the last for now. The extended wait for a new government is causing concern among industry groups and could delay investments and trade agreements.

Currently, inflation is projected to stabilize within the target range. However, it is important to note that there are always potential risks and uncertainties associated with inflation.

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Indonesia Launches First Government-Supported Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform

Indonesia has launched the world’s first state-backed cryptocurrency exchange, supervised by the Commodities Futures Trading Supervisory Agency.

The bourse will list licensed crypto companies and aims to strengthen the regulatory environment for the country’s booming cryptocurrency sector. While the use of cryptocurrencies as a payment medium is currently prohibited, investments in cryptocurrency are allowed. Indonesia saw a significant increase in crypto trading in 2021, reaching $56 billion.

The new exchange requires businesses to obtain a crypto exchange provider (CEP) license and meet certain criteria. Indonesia’s fintech industry is competitive, with P2P lending and e-payment platforms dominating. Foreign fintech firms can fill the financing gap for underbanked adults. The country has a high smartphone penetration rate and a growing middle class, making it a potential battleground for digital payment apps.

Indonesia Launches World’s First State-Backed…

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Job Prospects for China’s Youth are Dismal

Xu Ke, 21, comes from a long line of university lecturers.

Yet his peers and people a few years older than him are all struggling with a major crisis in their lives: growing competition for a dwindling number of jobs as youth unemployment tops 20%, driven by a huge downturn in manufacturing and foreign investment. 

“There aren’t many jobs, and the competition for the jobs there are is too strong,” said Xu, who is currently studying at a university in Minnesota. “Everyone is willing to do any job.”

“With everyone willing to do anything, wages are [kept] low, and benefits are poor,” Xu told Radio Free Asia in a recent interview.

Before the pandemic, most of his peers would once have expected to study for a teaching or liberal arts degree, before going on to land jobs as elementary and secondary school teachers.

But those days are long gone, Xu said, adding that the 20.4% unemployment rate among people aged 16-24 reported by the National Bureau of…

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Thai Finance Ministry Revises 2023 Growth Forecast to 3.5%

The Thai Finance Ministry has revised its economic growth outlook for 2023 to 3.5% from 3.6% due to weaker global demand for exports.

The ministry also predicts a 0.8% contraction in exports this year. However, the economy has been supported by increased domestic consumption and a recovery in the tourism sector.

The ministry maintains a forecast of 29.5 million foreign tourist arrivals this year. Inflation is projected to be 1.7% this year, down from 2.6% previously, and the exchange rate is forecasted at 34.01 baht per dollar.

The revised economic growth outlook for 2023 is expected to have an impact on various sectors of the Thai economy. In particular, industries that heavily rely on exports may see a slowdown in their growth rates. This could have implications for businesses involved in manufacturing, agriculture, and services that cater to international markets.

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Strategizing Thailand’s Free Trade Agreements to Expand Trade Opportunities

Thailand is pursuing an ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) strategy to expand its trade and investment opportunities with various partners around the world. The country has already signed 13 FTAs with 18 economies, including China, Japan, India, Australia, and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Thailand is currently negotiating several more FTAs with potential partners such as the European Union (EU), Pakistan, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.

The country is also a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was signed in November 2020 and has come into force in 2022. The RCEP is the world’s largest FTA, covering 15 countries and 30% of global GDP and trade.

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China’s Uncertain Mediation Position in Ukraine

Author: Alexander Korolev, UNSW

After a year of diplomatic inactivity towards the war in Ukraine, the Chinese government has made demonstrable attempts to look like a peacemaker. But while these moves indicate a change in its behaviour, there is little reason to anticipate that China’s efforts will end the war.

China’s 12-point ‘peace plan’ and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s direct phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on 26 April 2023, though met with scepticism and criticism in the West, led the international community to believe that China might be able to move the needle far enough to bring the Ukraine war closer to a solution or at least some sort of peace process.

But neither Russia nor Ukraine is ready to negotiate and make concessions. While the conflict is mutually detrimental, there is no clear battlefield stalemate or strategic impasse that would necessitat…

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Chinese Electric Vehicle Companies Invest Heavily in Thailand

Chinese EV manufacturers have shown interest in investing over $1.44 billion in the production of electric vehicles (EVs) in Thailand.

This comes as Thailand aims to have EVs make up 30% of all vehicles produced in the country by 2030.

Chinese companies, GSC Aion New Energy Automobile and Svolt Energy Technology, have already committed large investments to EV production and battery production in Thailand. The Thai government has been actively promoting investments in the EV industry, offering incentives and benefits to investors from around the world.

The arrival of Chinese manufacturers would help boost the popularity of EVs in Thailand, which is the second largest car market in ASEAN. In the first half of 2023, 31,000 EVs were registered in Thailand, triple the number registered in all of 2022.

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Tiananmen Mothers Urge China’s Xi Jinping to Acknowledge 1989 Massacre

Tiananmen Mothers, a group representing victims of the June 4 massacre that ended weeks of pro-democracy protests in 1989 has called on Chinese leader Xi Jinping to take responsibility for the actions of the government ahead of this year’s 34th anniversary.

“They may believe that they had nothing to do with the order to open fire [on unarmed civilians] back then, but … it was still done by the party in power, the Communist Party,” You Weijie, a spokeswoman for the group told Radio Free Asia on Friday.

“The government of today should take full responsibility and tell the public about everything that took place then,” she said.

Public commemoration of the massacre is banned in mainland China, while an annual candlelight vigil that used to mark the anniversary in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park has fallen silent after more than three decades, its leaders in prison under a draconian national security law used to crack down on public dissent.

Authorities in Chi…

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Tips for Staying Safe from Online Scams in Thailand

Thailand is a popular destination for tourists, expats, and digital nomads. However, it is also a hotspot for online scams that target foreigners and locals alike.

The current financial landscape is becoming increasingly perilous, with fraudulent individuals luring unsuspecting victims into various investment schemes – especially the trading of digital currencies through applications or websites and investments in cryptocurrencies.

Damages have been calculated in the billions of Thai baht. The Royal Thai Police has also emphasized the importance of being more cautious, advising members of the public to “not believe, not hurry, and not transfer money.”

Online scams in Thailand can take many forms, such as:

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