What's new in business news: November 01, 2013

Asean people want common Asean visa, Makkasan for new commercial district & Japanese firms join in Myanmar industrial development.

A bird’s-eye view of a green plot in the Makkasan area owned by the State Railway of Thailand. The Finance Ministry has been approached to develop the site of 497rai together with 277 rai near Rama III Road for commercial purposes in exchange for writing off 80 billion baht in debt the SRT owes the ministry. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL


Aseans want common Asean visa according to survey 


A new regional survey shows four out of five people in Asean are in favour of a common visa arrangement that would allow them to visit all Asean countries with a single visa. Respondents to the survey were from Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, India and China. 

The findings illustrate the extent to which visa requirements influence the holiday choices of Asian travellers, with 75% admitting their choice of destination was often dictated by visa requirements. 80% of Thai travellers selected Japan as a preferred destination because of the Japan-Thailand 15-day visa-free agreement that took effect this July.

The only Asean member that still imposes a visa requirement for Thai visitors is Myanmar. Thai travellers want more visa-free destinations for hassle-free travel, as 90% of respondents want the government to establish visa-free agreements with more countries, especially the US.

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Makkasan to be new commercial district, says Finance Ministry

Early this week, the Transport Ministry offered to let the Finance Ministry rent 800 rai of SRT's land in Makkasan and Chong Nonsi near Rama III Road for 90-100 years to clear SRT's accumulated debt worth 80 billion baht that it borrowed from the Finance Ministry. SRT has 497 rai available out of 700 rai total in Makkasan. The land has access to the skytrain, subway and Airport Rail Link. Currently, the appraised land value in Makkasan is about 600,000 baht a square wah, while the market price is up to 1.5 million baht. If commercial projects are developed there, the market price could easily become one of Bangkok's highest.

Development of the area may involve government projects with the private sector under the Public-Private Partnership Act. The conditions of the government will require a fairly large green space in Makkasan.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has initiated a policy of maximising the value of vast state-owned land holdings nationwide. Thailand is also currently completing a master plan for state land, with a goal to maximise its use to support future economic growth in accordance with the policy of adding value to state assets. Among state enterprises holding vast land banks are the SRT, with nearly 250,000 rai, the Port Authority of Thailand (2,400 rai, part of which is at Klong Toey Port) and the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly (600 rai including land in the heart of the capital). The highest-priced land sale on record is on Phloenchit Road, at 1.5 million baht per sq w. 

Another plot in the heart of Bangkok that SRT will use to clear its debt is 277 rai in Chong Nonsi, of which 70 rai are located near the Chao Phraya River. The waterfront land is reserved for the military, which means the Finance Ministry would have to seek approval from the Defence Ministry before developing it. 

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Thilawa project: Japanese firms join to build industrial hub in Myanmar

The recent opening up of Myanmar to international trade after five decades of military dictatorship is providing Japan with a chance to establish a low-cost manufacturing base similar to that of Thailand which is home to factories of Nissan Motor Co, Canon Inc and Hitachi Ltd among others. 

Three of Japan's biggest trading houses will form a joint venture with Myanmar to build an industrial hub in Myanmar within two years with a focus on exporting electronics parts and clothes. Mitsubishi Corp, Sumitomo Corp and Marubeni Corp will own 49% and Myanmar's government and local enterprises the rest. Thilawa is 23 kilometres south of the commercial capital of Yangon. The Thilawa hub will occupy 400 hectares with 50 to 100 firms and may expand to 2,000 hectares. About 5.2 trillion baht will be spent on much-needed power, water, sewage and transport infrastructure at the site.

Myanmar, which has $11 billion in overdue debt from decades of military rule, owes the most to Japan ($6.6 billion). Myanmar's move to modernise has also lured private equity funds and companies such as General Electric Co and Norway's Telenor ASA.

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About the author

Writer: Jon Fernquest
Position: Online Writer