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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     19 October  2011

Thai industries hit by flooding

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California-based Western Digital, the world's largest hard-disk drive (HDD) maker, expects its exports from Thailand will decrease by 40 percent this year due to the severe flooding.

The company estimates a two-month production halt and then another four to six months to resume full operations, said Suwat Liptapanlop, a former deputy prime minister who chaired a meeting yesterday between the Industry Ministry, the Board of Investment (BoI) and Dave Rauch, Western Digital's senior vice-president for global operations.

"Thailand's export value could dip by 80 billion baht (US$ 2.65 billion) from this company alone," said Mr Suwat.
Western Digital has invested 400 billion baht in its local factories.

The widespread disaster has resulted in manufacturing being suspended at the company's factories in Ayutthaya's Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate and Pathum Thani's Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate.

Employing 40,000 workers, the Thai unit accounts for 60% percentof the parent company's worldwide HDD sales.

Competing closely for global leadership with California-based Seagate Technology, Western Digital supplies one-third of the world's HDDs.

"Western Digital asks the Thai government to help move its machinery out of the affected factories to other plants in order to minimise the impact on production," said Mr Suwat.

The flooding has also forced major carmakers including Toyota and Honda to halt production due to a shortage of parts and other supplies.

Mazda Motor Corporation yesterday said it would halt passenger car production in Thailand from today until Saturday due to a parts shortage.

Spokesman Yuta Tanaka said by telephone from Hiroshima that passenger car production on the evening shift had been suspended since last Thursday and all pickup truck manufacturing since October  11.

Atchaka Sibunruang, the BoI secretary-general, said her agency would ask its board for permission to offer the maximum investment privileges to flood-affected companies including an eight-year tax holiday for imported machinery.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

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.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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