This paper evaluates the short-term impact of Thailand’s Million Baht Village Fund program, among the largest scale government microfinance initiative in the world, using pre- and postprogram panel data and quasi-experimental cross-village variation in credit-per-household. We find that the village funds have increased total short-term credit, consumption, agricultural investment, income growth (from business and labor), but decreased overall asset growth. We also find a positive impact on wages, an important general equilibrium effect. The findings are broadly consistent qualitatively with models of credit-constrained household behavior and models of intermediation and growth.
Adult Awareness of Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship — 14 Countries
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
According to the 2012 Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) is associated with the initiation and continuation of smoking among young persons. The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires countries to prohibit all forms of TAPS (2); the United States signed the agreement in 2004, but the action has not yet been ratified. Many countries have adopted partial bans covering direct advertising in traditional media channels; however, few countries have adopted comprehensive bans on all types of direct and indirect marketing. To assess progress toward elimination of TAPS and the level of awareness of TAPS among persons aged ≥15 years, CDC used data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) collected in 14 countries during 2008–2010. Awareness of any TAPS ranged from 12.4% in Turkey to 70.4% in the Philippines. In the four countries where awareness of TAPs was ≤15%, three of the countries had comprehensive bans covering all nine channels assessed by GATS, and the fourth country banned seven of the nine channels. In 12 countries, more persons were aware of advertising in stores than advertising via any other channel. Reducing exposure to TAPS is important to prevent initiation of tobacco use by youths and young adults and to help smokers quit.
Insurers’ estimates of industry wide losses from the Thailand floods have increased 50% to USD 15 billion since A.M. Best’s last briefing on this event (Thai Flooding Brings Industrial, Business Interruption Claims), published Nov. 23, 2011. Such a loss would place the Thai floods in a tie for the fifth costliest insured loss event in the past 31 years.
Aon Benfield estimated the floods in Thailand have damaged or destroyed more than 4 million homes, businesses and manufacturing facilities. This has generated structural damage four times greater than what resulted from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, but only half of the total insured loss due to a low rate of insurance adoption.
It will take the industry significant time to reconcile the true impact of the floods because of a general lack of data on Thai exposures, the length and magnitude of the floods, and the complexity of business interruption and contingent business interruption (CBI) claims. As demonstrated by companies increasing fourth-quarter reserves for catastrophe events that occurred earlier in 2011, potential losses may creep upward throughout 2012. The Lloyd’s market has yet to release its net estimate of flood losses, which will include a material loss from Kiln Syndicate 1880. That syndicate’s loss currently is estimated at USD 700 million, and claims have been fully funded in cash by its sole capital provider and guarantor, Tokio Marine.
Thailand: Insurgents must stop war crimes against civilians
Source: Amnesty International
Insurgents in the long-running internal armed conflict in southern Thailand must immediately stop their campaign of targeting civilians, Amnesty International urged today in a new report.
“They took nothing but his life”: Unlawful killings in Thailand’s southern insurgency provides details of how insurgents have deliberately attacked “soft targets”: farmers, teachers, students, religious leaders, and civil servants. Many of these attacks constitute war crimes.
Nearly 5,000 people have been killed and thousands more injured in Thailand’s four southern-most provinces, in the nearly eight years since the insurgency there reignited.
“Insurgents in southern Thailand are spreading terror among the civilian population by deliberately targeting people with no role in the conflict —no one is immune from attack,” said Donna Guest, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.
“The insurgents must publicly commit to stopping these unlawful killings immediately,” she said.
The report is based on the testimony of 154 interviews with witnesses and survivors, relatives and friends of victims, conducted between October 2010 and July 2011. This testimony provides information about 66 insurgent attacks against civilians in three southern Thai districts: Rangae in Narathiwat province, Yarang in Pattani, and Yaha in Yala.
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Vietnam business guide (PDFs)
Source: Department for Business Innovation & Skills
Overview of how to do business in Vietnam, a high-growth market for the UK. Covers researching the market, market entry and business issues and considerations. Intended for UK businesses. See also the Philippines (11/689), Thailand (11/690) and Malaysia (11/691) business guides that were also published 19 April 2011.
Beyond Rivalry and Camaraderie: Explaining Varying Asian Responses to China
Source: RAND Corporation
Asian states often make tradeoffs between economic and military security goals, and shifts in states’ preferences for economic advantage versus military strength explain variation and diversity in their responses to China. Countries that prioritize technological advantage and economic strength respond differently to China than those that do not because they accept a greater degree of security risk to realize economic gains from interactions with China. This dissertation assesses the security and economic policy responses of a representative sample of Asian states to China between 1992 and 2008. The responses of Japan, Korea and Thailand have defied predictions of the dominant international relations paradigm — realism — that states would either balance against or bandwagon with a rising China. However, the three states have not discarded consideration of external security threats. Differences in how Japan, Korea and Thailand have responded to China over time are explained not only by changes in China’s military threat, but perceptions of the threat as weighed against changing economic priorities. Domestic strategic evolution — change in political structure and grand strategy — has had an important impact on the manner in which the three nations have responded to China. The findings of this dissertation bear on both the study and practice of international security policy. Domestic politics and state preferences are important factors to consider when explaining the responses of Asian states to China, responses which would not have been implied by the consideration of external threats alone. Understanding the determinants of Asian nations’ different and evolving preferences for the ratio of economic versus military strength will aid U.S. officials in formulating policies that affirm these states’ strategic interests.
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Thailand: Country Specific Information
Source: U.S. Department of State
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. Thailand adopted its current constitution following an August 19, 2007, referendum. Multi-party elections held on December 23, 2007, resulted in the People’s Power Party (PPP) winning a plurality of the seats in the lower house of Parliament and the formation of a coalition government. In December 2008, a revised coalition led by the previous opposition party, the Democrat Party, came to power. The next Parliamentary election is expected in 2011. Approximately 95 percent of the population is Buddhist and ethnically Thai, with Muslim and Christian minorities. Standard Thai is the official language of Thailand and is spoken in every province, though many areas also have a local dialect, and in the deep south, a variant of Malay is widely spoken. Most Thais working in the tourist industry and in businesses dealing with foreigners can speak at least rudimentary English. Thailand is a popular travel destination, and tourist facilities and services are available throughout the country. At many tourist attractions, including national parks, foreigners are charged admission fees up to ten times higher than those charged to Thais. Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Thailand for additional information.