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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                   12  September 2011

Stimulus to help Thai consumers

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Thai economic policies will help motorcycle sales to continue to grow at double digits this year despite risk factors, notes the Kasikorn Research Center.

It estimates that sales will remain healthy despite high inflation and interest rates, seasonal factors such as flooding, and repercussions of the global economic downturn.

K-Research forecast sales would expand this year by 11-16 percent, a lower rate than last year's 20.2 percent. Sales this year are estimated to be between 2.04 million and 2.14 million units, up from 1.84 million last year. In the first seven months of the year, unit sales increased 15 percent year-on-year.

For the rest of the year, the market will have to closely monitor numerous risks factors especially the impact of flooding on the farm sector, the main customers of motorbikes.

Interest rate rises would also cause leasing rates to increase, making bikes less affordable. Lower industrial production, exports and tourism in Thailand due to the global economic slump could also cause certain motorbike customer groups to earn less.

However, K-Research said the there were positive elements in the government's policies to spur consumption and lift incomes for farmers and low-earning consumers, which would help lift motorbike sales directly and indirectly for the rest of the year.

The government plans a debt moratorium for small-scale farmers and low-income families with less than 500,000 baht in debt for at least three years, while also providing debt restructuring.

The rice pledging scheme, farmers' credit cards and the increase of 1 million baht in each village fund will also support purchasing power.

Plans to increase the daily minimum wage to 300 baht and the starting salaries of university graduates to 15,000 baht a month will also help the motorcycle market, it said.

Continuous marketing events for motorbike customers by retailers, especially for cheaper models in rural areas, should help to increase consumption. Temporary reductions in retail fuel prices are also expected to generate motorbike sales.



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This year in Thailand-what next?

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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