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January SME registrations down by 35 per cent

New SME registrations in January dropped by 35 per cent to 5,317 from the same month last year, but soared by 83 per cent from the previous month.

Patima Jeerapaet, director-general of the Office of SME Promotion, said yesterday that the top five businesses were residential building and home development, machinery sales and distribution, management consulting, and construction materials sales and distribution.

In January, 1,420 small and medium-sized enterprises went out of business, up by 18 per cent year on year but down by 69 per cent from December. The top five businesses were lottery, non-residential construction, non-residential property development, cargo delivery and loading and unloading, and management consulting.

The internal and external factors affecting SMEs were the political unrest, the economies of trading partners, which affected domestic demand, private investment, industrial production and tourist arrivals.

Exports by SMEs in January rose 10 per cent on year and 9.42 per cent on month to Bt157.40 billion. SMEs accounted for 27.23 per cent of total exports. Most SME exports go to China (Bt20.49 billion), Japan (Bt15.94 billion), the US (Bt12.93 billion), Malaysia (Bt7.73 billion) and Indonesia (Bt7.62 billion).

The core exports of SMEs in every category expanded on year - except for Indonesia, which contracted slightly - due to the economic recovery of trading nations. The top five export items were jewellery and accessories, plastics and products, machinery and computers and accessories, rubber and products, and electrical goods and components,.

In January, SME imports decreased 26.96 per cent on year but edged up 6.82 per cent on month to Bt188.40 billion. SMEs accounted for 28.24 per cent of total imports.

SMEs imported most of the goods from China, Japan, the US, Malaysia and South Korea. Most of the imports were electrical goods and components, machinery, computers and equipment, jewellery and accessories, plastics and products, and iron and steel.

The office, public and private sectors and financial institutions are joining forces to come up with measures to assist SMEs affected by the adverse political and economic impacts to grow their businesses on a sustainable basis this year.

SME operators may ring the office's call centre at 1301, or visit www.sme.go.th,

Confidence hits new low

Consumer confidence last month dropped to 69.9, the lowest level in 12 years and four months, or since October 2001.

Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's Economic and Business Forecast Centre, said yesterday that the prolonged political deadlock and uncertainty depressed February's consumer confidence index from 71.5 in January. Other confidence indices in all categories also dropped. Scores below 100 indicate low confidence.

The CCI has been on a downtrend for the past 11 months.

The confidence index for the overall economy in February was at 59.7, down from 61.4 in January, while the job opportunities index was fell to 63.6 from 65.1, the lowest in 27 months.

The future income index declined to 86.3, the lowest in 57 months, from 88.1.

The downtrend is a concern as the indices touched the lowest levels since the centre started tracking the CCI.

The pressure came from the political deadlock and uncertainty, emergency decree, farmers' overdue rice subsidy payments, lower purchasing power, rising concerns over higher living costs, prices of daily necessities, job outlook, future income and general economic prospects.

With negative economic figures for the past two quarters, and continuing signs of economic slowdown until next quarter, the economy is in a recession.

Bitcoin exchange CEO found dead

The 28-year-old American boss of a Bitcoin exchange has been found dead at the base of a Singapore apartment block, police and reports said yesterday, in the latest misfortune linked with the troubled virtual currency.

Singapore police said they were investigating the "unnatural" death of Autumn Radtke, chief executive of Singapore-based First Meta, on February 26, but that no foul play was suspected. - Agence France-Presse


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