The World Bank on Thursday revised down its forecast for Thailand's economic growth in 2007 from 4.6 percent to 4.3 percent. The semi-annual "Monitoring the Thai Economy" reported that the bank had decreased Thailand's GDP growth projection because household consumption, as well as private and state investment in the country, had slowed due to political uncertainties and the ambiguous economic policy adopted by the current government. The bank projected that private consumption, private investment, state investment and imports would expand 3.5 percent, 4 percent, 4.2 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively, this year.
The Nation
A proposed law to slow the expansion of big retailers in Thailand will be redrafted to ensure it is not susceptible to political interference.  Cabinet ministers unexpectedly rejected the proposed law on Tuesday, saying they worried that zoning regulations were too vague and that a new committee to oversee retail businesses could be subject to political meddling.  Government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said the decision should not be viewed as a victory for major foreign retailers, and that there was no intention to water down the legislation proposed by the Commerce Ministry.  The zoning rules were criticized for being vague on the location and number of big retail outlets allowed in or near communities with small family-owned shops. Texco, Thailand's biggest foreign retailer with 56 outlets, said it agreed with the need for a retail business law. "I believe that family-run shops and the modern trade can co-exist," said Darmp Sukontasap of Ek-Chai Distribution System, which operates Tesco-Lotus stores in Thailand.
Thailand will sign a free trade agreement with Japan when Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont visits the East Asian country next week.  The Thai Cabinet gave approval during its weekly meeting for the deal to go ahead, paving the way for Surayud to sign the accord Monday at the start of a four-day trip to Japan. The pact involves the reduction or removal of tariffs between the two countries on a wide variety of goods, including agricultural products. Activists previously raised concerns that the trade agreement would allow Japan to dump toxic waste in Thailand and also patent its micro-organisms, stripping Thailand of the right to develop them at a later date. The two sides compromised by forbidding Japan from bringing toxic waste into Thailand without consent, and by giving Thailand the right to reject requests from Japan to register micro-organisms.