What's new in business news: October 4, 2013

Thai-Chilean free trade agreement signing today, first rubber industrial park in Rayong & loan guarantees to get SME involvement in megaprojects.

The country of Chile as seen in Google Earth. Thailand will sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Chile today.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Thai-Chilean free trade agreement signing today

Thailand will today sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Chile that will take effect at year-end and will eliminate tariffs on 90% of products between the two countries, with the other 10% cut gradually over five years.

Thailand is already Chile's largest trading partner in Asean and Chile has already established FTAs with Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia and has started negotiations with Indonesia.

The agreement is expected to boost trade and investment between the two countries, particularly in the areas of mining, agriculture and fisheries, areas that Chile specialises in. Thai manufacturers will be able to import Chilean raw materials at lower cost which will benefit products such as automobiles and auto parts, canned seafood, processed food, canned fruit, electrical appliances, rubber and rubber products, plastic resin, cement, gems and jewellery, and apparel.

[Read full story here ]

AGRICULTURE & INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT 

First rubber industrial park going up in Rayong

Thailand's first-ever rubber industrial estate valued at a combined 3 billion baht is being built in Rayong on a plot of about 2,000 rai by Thai Hua Rubber Plc.

The estate is due to be up and running next year and in full operation by 2016. The estate will employ as many as 10,000 workers and handle 500,000 tonnes of rubber a year, mainly for supply from nearby provinces such as Trat, Chanthaburi, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, Sa Kaeo and Prachin Buri.

Rubber-based road construction is being promoted. Despite costing around 5% more than asphalt, the working lifespan of a rubber road is said to be about eight years longer. A one-kilometre stretch of road in 70,000 villages nationwide for instance could use up to 300,000 tonnes of rubber and help to immediately absorb supply in the market, shore up local rubber prices and address ongoing rubber protests in the South.

[Read full story here ]

BANKING & SMALL BUSINESS 

Loan guarantees to get SME involvement in megaprojects

The Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation (TCG) is set to guarantee loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking job contracts under the government's 2-trillion-baht infrastructure development plan. SME credit guarantees  are needed to ensure ample funding for subcontracting from large contractors. Small subcontractors typically must have working capital totalling at least 30% of a project' s value.

TCG now provides credit guarantees to contractors securing loans at Krungthai Bank for work on government projects and hopes to soon offer two new credit guarantee products for microentrepreneurs such as wet market vendors, with a maximum guarantee of 200,000 baht each, and for One Tambon One Product (Otop) operators, with a maximum guarantee of 3 million baht. 

Microentrepreneurs are business owners with fewer than five employees. Thailand has 2.65 million SMEs - 1.78 million microentrepreneurs, 860,000 small operators and 10,000 medium-sized operators.

TCG plans to provide guarantees for a combined 5 billion baht worth of loans to 50,000 microentrepreneurs and to compensate for potential non-performing loans (NPLs) of 25-50% of microfinance loans, TCG is asking the government to set aside 1 billion baht for loan-loss provisions.

[Read full story projects" >here ]

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Writer: Jon Fernquest
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