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Foreign investors dump Bt31.1bn in stocks

Foreign investors continued their retreat from the local bourse yesterday amid the political clashes, selling a net Bt765 million in shares.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand Index slumped 0.39 per cent to 1,321 points on trading worth Bt30.79 billion.

So far this month, foreign investors have jettisoned a net Bt17.44 billion in Thai shares. Since the beginning of this year, their net sales have climbed to Bt31.1 billion.

EXPORTERS TOLD TO LOWER PRICES

A Japanese importer urged Thai exporters to lower their prices to compensate for the expected rise in production cost after Japan's value added tax (VAT) is hikeed in April from 5 per cent to 8 per cent.

Thailand's export sector enjoyed a windfall this quarter as Japanese importers scurried to stock up on products, especially meat such as chicken and shrimp, in the run-up to the VAT increase.

Nopporn Thepsitthar, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said the current beneficial effect for the Thai export sector would only be short-lived while in the long term, Thai exporters would suffer from the growing lack of competiveness of Thai products because they are beginning to be too expensive for Japanese consumers.

The weakening of the yen against the baht has also inflated the price of Thai products since the last quarter.

"Many Japanese importers flew here to negotiate the lowering of the price of Thai products by 3 per cent because they want to keep sales prices where they are," he said.

"They also urged Thai importers to upgrade the supply chain and the logistics system before sending their products to Japan, which means there is added pressure for Thai importers," he said.

Thailand should reconsider the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement because Thailand is beginning to lose its advantages under the deal as manifested by the imbalance of trade between the two countries, he said.

Imports of Japanese products by volume are increasing but shipments to Japan are decreasing. The council is now discussing with government agencies about the reconsideration of the JTEPA deal by increasing the kinds of products being exported to Japan.

KBANK EYES 5M DEBIT CARDS

Kasikornbank expects to issue 5 million new debit cards this year, as well as expand merchant services to accept more K-Debit Cards to reinforce its "Universal Debit Card" concept.

Pakorn Partanapat, executive vice president of KBank, said that by the end of this year the lender will have issued a total of 11 million debit cards, maintaining KBank as the leader in this business. In addition, the bank plans to expand merchant services to cover more K-Debit Cardholders - in particular those who spend smaller amounts using debit cards. Other promotional campaigns will be offered in order to boost debit-card spending by 70 per cent or Bt50 billion in value, particularly via online channels, as e-commerce has grown by 50 per cent among teenagers and office workers.

Current ATM and debit card issuance in Thailand totalled approximately 57 million, of which 15 million are ATM cards and 42 million are debit cards.


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