Economy April 01, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Thailand, Vietnam target $15 billion in trade

With the Asean Economic Community just around the corner, Thailand and Vietnam can further expand their collaboration and maximise the potential for bilateral trade, Thai officials have said.
During a conference in HCM City on Thursday, Panpimon Suwannapongse, the Thai consul-general in HCM City, said that despite the challenging circumstances during the past few years due to the international economic crisis, economic ties between Vietnam and Thailand have been robust.
Two-way trade rose 3.6 per cent to US$9.4 billion last year.
“I am happy to note that in 2013 Thailand was Vietnam’s biggest trade partner in Asean,” she said.
Thailand’s top exports to Vietnam are plastics, petrol, chemicals, automobiles, steel and machines, while Vietnam ships to Thailand household appliances, steel products, electronics, motorcycles, equipment and frozen seafood.
The two countries have set a target to raise their trade to $15 billion by 2020, she said, adding that, besides boosting investment and trade ties, one area that Thailand and Vietnam should not overlook is the exhibition industry in which the business sectors of both countries possess vast potential. – Viet Nam News/ANN
Ratch prepares for Hongsa  plant’s commissioning test 
Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding reported on the progress of the 1,878-megawatt Hongsa thermal power plant, located in Hongsa district of Sayaboury province in Laos.
Construction has advanced to 80 per cent of the plan, including the power plant and the coal mine, a fuel source of the project. The power plant’s equipment test is planned to start next month and the generator synchronisation test in December. 
The power plant’s Unit 1 is scheduled for commercial operation in June of next year, Ratch CEO Pongdith Potchana said yesterday. The coal-fired power project comprises three 626MW units. It will distribute 1,473MW to Thailand, 100MW to Laos and the rest to the production process of the power plant and coal mine. 
According to tahe 25-year power purchase agreement with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the electricity will be transmitted through a 500kV transmission line to the Nan 2 Sub-Power Station in Nan’s Muang district for securing the national power grid. 
The Unit 1 generator will dispatch commercially in June 2015. Units 2 and 3 have been planned to start commercial operation in November 2015 and March 2016. 
Thai Life adds features to retirement savings policy 
Thai Life Insurance is attempting to ride the ageing society wave by designing new features of its retirement savings policy to cater to customers who want to have enough cash for their retirement.
Sawat Naruvorawong, executive vice president, said yesterday that people aged over 60 account for 15 per cent of the population and the cost of medical treatment is rising.
To help prepare financial and health plans for salaried customers aged 20-60, the company designed a policy covering savings, health protection and tax deductions without a health check-up requirement. 
Policyholder will gain coupons of 15 per cent of the annual sum insured from the first year of premium payment to the maximum of 90 years of age. In case policyholders cannot receive the coupon during the first 15 years, the company will pay the net present value of the unpaid coupons to them.
BBL boosts presence in china with 5th branch  
Bangkok Bank – the only Thai bank with a local branch licence from the Chinese government – has strengthened its presence in China by opening its fifth branch there. 
The new Bangkok Bank (China) branch is in Chongqing, a large municipality and a northern economic hub on the Yangtze River.
Bangkok Bank executive vice president Chaiyarit Anuchitworawong said the Chongqing branch was focused on providing business loans and trade services including trade finance, cash management, currency exchange and international funds transfers. 
The branch also provides yuan-denominated services covering a wide range of payments and deposits for foreign companies and customers. 
This will provide Bangkok Bank (China) with more capital to grow its loan portfolio.
Chongqing Municipality is a hub for China’s fastest-growing region, which last year grew its gross domestic product by 12.3 per cent to 1.26 trillion  yuan(China’s total GDP growth was around 7.7 percent). 
The region boasts more than 1,000 large production plants and in 2013 attracted about 5,300 large foreign investors, with a total investment of about US$10 billion (foreign investment during the past five years was around US$41.8 billion). 
Krungsri makes plan  
Krungsri (Bank of Ayudhya) has announced it will build a 37-storey “green” office building where its Ploenchit branch is located on Ploenchit-Wireless Road.
The move is to accommodate the bank’s expansion plans. 
Construction on the new building is expected to start mid-2015 and be completed by the end of 2017. 
Meanwhile, the bank will issue debentures worth Bt12 billion to institutions and major investors following a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission.
The debentures will be issued in two tranches with a maturity of two and three years. 
The first is a two-year-debenture offering a coupon of 3 per cent per annum, and the second is a three-year debenture offering a coupon of 3.34 per cent per annum. 
The subscription will be from today to tomorrow through BAY branches.
The proceeds will be used for debt repayments and general corporate purposes.