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Baht Appreciation
July 24, 2007

Cabinet approves remedy schedule for strong baht
Thai Cabinet has approved a package of measures in its entirety proposed by the Bank of Thailand to rein in the appreciation of its baht currency, which has remained at a worrisome 10-year high for most of the month.

Deputy Prime Minister Kosit Panpiemras, Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn and Bank of Thailand governor Tarisa Watanagase told a joint press conference after a cabinet meeting Tuesday that the measures include allowing listed firms on the Stock Exchange of Thailand to purchase currency for foreign direct investments up to US$100 million per year.

Under the new scheme, corporations and individuals are allowed to deposit foreign currency with financial institutions. Foreign exchange rules are also relaxed to extend the period of importing receipts in greenbacks from the current 120 days to 360 days.

As part of the package, individuals with liabilities can deposit foreign currency In local banks for up to US$1 million and up to US$ 100,000 for individuals without liabilities.

Companies with liabilities are allowed to keep foreign currency accounts with local banks for up to Bt100 million and up to Bt 5 million for those without liabilities. Individuals are now permitted to transfer foreign currencies to invest in properties offshore.

In addition, institutional investors can invest overseas without seeking authorization from the Bank of Thailand. Listed companies are also allowed to invest abroad to the tune of US$100 million per year.

Thailand's baht currency hit a 10-year high against the US dollar earlier this month, causing serious concern among exporters and economists who urged the government to urgently adopt measures to protect the export sector.

However, the baht was quoted at 33.62-33.65 to the dollar on July 24, little changed from the previous day's close of 33.69-33.73 to the dollar.

Thai share prices closed sharply higher Tuesday, jumping 2.12 per cent as investors welcomed the government's measures, dealers said.  The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index rose 18.33 points to 880.95, its best finish in 10 years, and the blue chip SET 50 added 15.76 points to 635.07. TNA

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