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ITALIAN DELEGATION TO VISIT THAILAND IN MIDDLE OF 2014

About 200 Italian businesspeople are to join an official delegation to Thailand around July, Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan said. They will represent the banking, manufacturing and trade sectors and will also include small and medium-sized business owners.

Leading the delegation will be Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who has just accepted the Thai government's invitation to visit.

Niwatthumrong, who is also a deputy prime minister, revealed the information after a discussion with Italian Deputy Economic Minister Carlo Calenda on the sidelines of the ninth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Bali.

He also said that in March, an Italian team would make a preliminary visit to promote long-term bilateral trade and investment. It will meet with several Thai agencies including the Board of Investment, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

MALAYSIA JACKS UP POWER RATES

Consumers in Malaysia are feeling the pinch and are starting to rethink how to save energy after the government announced an average 15.89-per-cent increase in electricity charges.

Prudent use of electricity is among the essential measures that consumers could take to lessen the burden of their already rising cost of living.

Information-technology specialist Ivan Chua said the power-tariff rise was too sudden. "If the government had to increase the power tariff, I would not mind if it was done gradually. A sudden hike will only make life harder for us, as the prices of other goods such as sugar and petrol have increased recently as well," he said. - The Star/ANN

TABLET SALES GROWTH SLOWING

Worldwide tablet shipments are expected to reach 221.3 million units by the end of the year, down slightly from a previous forecast of 227.4 million but still 53.5 per cent above 2012 levels, according to the latest forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

In the research released on Tuesday, shipment growth is forecast to slow to 22.2 per cent year over year in 2014 to 270.5 million units. By 2017, annual market growth will slow to single-digit percentages and shipments will peak at 386.3 million units, down from the previous forecast of 407 million units.

"In some markets consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result we've lowered our long-term forecast," said Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for tablets.

"Meanwhile, in mature markets like the US where tablets have been shipping in large volumes since 2010 and are already well established, we're less concerned about big phones cannibalising shipments and more worried about market saturation."

GSB CUTTING INTEREST RATES

Government Savings Bank announced a cut in its interest rates yesterday after the Monetary Policy Committee trimmed the policy rate last week.

The new rates will come into effect next Monday.

Woravit Chailimpamontri, president and chief executive officer of GSB, said that the rate cut, like the MPC's move, aimed to help boost the economy.

Deposit rates will be lowered in a range of 0-0.25 percentage point, while lending rates will be trimmed by 0.125 percentage point.

The demand deposit rate will be cut by 0.75 percentage point to 0.63 per cent per annum, while three-month fixed deposit rates will be reduced in a range of 1.875-2.00 percentage points to 1.70-2.00 per cent per annum.

The six-month fixed deposit rate will be cut from 2.35 per cent to 2.10-2.25 per cent per annum, based on the amount of deposits. The 24M Plus fixed deposit rate will be lowered from 2.75 per cent to 2.50-2.75 per cent per annum.

The bank's minimum lending rate (MLR) will be cut by 0.125 percentage point from 7.00 per cent to 6.875 per cent per annum. Its minimum overdraft rate (MOR) and minimum retail rate (MRR) remain unchanged at 7.25 per cent and 7.625 per cent respectively. GSB's MOR and MRR are lower than those of the five largest commercial banks.

THAILAND'S GRAFT RATING SLUMPS

Thailand's corruption-index rating fell 14 notches this year. The country has just been ranked 102nd out of 177 countries and territories monitored by Transparency International, down from last year's 88th position.

A score of 0-100 is designated by the organisation to each country, with 0 signifying the most corrupt and 100 being the most transparent. Thailand scored 35. TI said two-thirds of the countries and territories rated this year received scores of 50 or more in their transparency rankings. Denmark and New Zealand were ranked the most transparent, with equal scores of 91, whereas Afghanistan, North Korea and Syria were lowest, receiving equal scores of only 8.

Top Talent Asia joins En World job-search group

The En World Group, a recruiting agency serving mid-career professionals in six countries with 10 offices in the Asia-Pacific region, has announced that Top Talent Asia, an executive search firm based in Thailand, has officially joined the group.

Under this alignment, employers will be able to take advantage of En World's services and products across all their Asia-Pacific operations, and profit from the knowledge and experience that comes with 12,000 successful placements with 3,000 clients.

Meanwhile, job candidates now are able to use En World's Asia-Pacific networks to compare employment opportunities across the region and not just Thailand, enhancing their career potential.

Top Talent Asia, established in Bangkok in 2003, has a similar business model to that of En World, specialising in helping mid-career professionals move into multinational companies. By joining the En World Group, Top Talent Asia will expand on its existing strengths to encompass multinational companies.

In addition, Top Talen Asia will be able to offer services to Japan-affiliated global companies by working with other En World offices that support recruiting projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Thailand's infrastructure is well in place. In fact, direct investment from overseas approximately doubled in 2012 compared with 2011. However, we anticipate even more investment from global companies in the future, thanks to unemployment that is low by global standards, and solid GDP growth," said Craig Saphin, president of En World Group.

"We also expect that the country will continue its transition from a labour-dependent economy that relies on a low-cost workforce to one based on knowledge and technology. Based on this situation, we believe that demand for mid- and high-level professionals will increase."

Fitch Ratings affirms|BAFS at 'A+(tha)'

Fitch Ratings (Thailand) has affirmed Bangkok Aviation Fuel Services' national long-term rating at "A+(tha)" and its national short-term rating at "F1(tha)". The outlook is "stable".

The ratings of BAFS reflect its dominant position in Thailand's aviation-fuel-service market.

BAFS is the sole operator of the fuel depot and hydrant network at Suvarnabhumi Airport, the country's largest international airport, and also the largest into-plane fuelling service provider at the airport, with a market share of about 87 per cent.

The company faces limited competition and benefits from high barriers to entry, such as a requirement that operators work under concessions from the airport.




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