Foreign business confidence runs low in UTCC survey

Foreign business confidence runs low in UTCC survey

The overall sentiment of foreign businesses operating in Thailand remains relatively low, with rising unemployment, tight liquidity, the country's political stability and economic prospects topping their concerns.

According to the new foreign business confidence index (FBCI) that gauges foreign business sentiment in Thailand conducted by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), foreign business confidence stood at only 29.8 on a full scale of 100 points in the fourth quarter of last year.

The foreign business confidence index sampled 119 companies under 30 foreign chambers of commerce operating in Thailand, questioning them on two main areas: Thailand's economy and their own business confidence.

There are 40 foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand covering a total of 8,470 companies.

According to Thanavath Phonvichai, the UTCC president, foreign business confidence in the country's overall economy and their business was still low, standing at 27.6 points and 32.1 points, respectively.

Lower points mean less foreign business confidence.

"Economic and social areas foreign businesses are concerned about the most and need urgent treatments from the government and responsible parties are higher unemployment from the Covid-19 situation that affects overall consumer purchasing power, tight liquidity of the private sector, domestic political stability and the tourism sector," said Mr Thanavath.

"Foreign businesses also fret over Thailand's economic prospects, complicated regulations for doing business in Thailand and the government's ability in handling the new wave of infections."

On the business front, Mr Thanavath said foreign businesses are also worried about their shrinking sales because of lower demand and supply, higher transport costs because of the pandemic, tight financial liquidity, the unabated Covid-19 spread, and escalating street protests in Thailand.

Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the Thai chamber is also concerned about the same issues, asking the government to tackle unemployment, capital access and most importantly, domestic political stability.

He cited FDI in the three quarters of 2020, which decreased by 15% to 1.2 trillion baht from 1.4 trillion baht in the same period of 2019.

Mr Kalin said the government should offer more tax breaks to companies that maintain their employment, amend regulations to stimulate regional headquarters and facilitate ease of doing business as well as work permits for skilled labour.

The vaccine passport and the mass vaccinations for tourism businesses should be prioritised to promote foreign tourist arrivals, he said.

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