12 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – JUNE 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM BRI EFS EXPLAINER CAN THAILAND’S NEW GOVERNMENT REINVIGORATE ITS ECONOMY? Thailand is poised to witness political and economic disruptions after the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) stormed to a decisive electoral victory on May 14, closing the curtain on the reign of Prayuth Chanocha, who seized power in a coup in 2014. MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat aims to take the reins as the country’s next prime minister, backed by an eightparty coalition. The 42-year-old Harvard graduate has vowed to introduce social and economic reforms, including abolishing business monopolies, notably in brewing and other alcohol production, as well as boosting assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The political shakeup has buoyed law firms in Thailand, banking on a conducive environment for home-grown businesses and foreign investment. But they are also closely monitoring legislative uncertainties posed by resistance from the country’s more conservative elements. WHAT IS THAILAND’S ECONOMIC OUTLOOK UNDER ITS NEW GOVERNMENT? On May 23, MFP signed an agreement with its seven coalition partners spelling out the alliance’s governance priorities as it appealed for parliamentary support to form a government. The 23 agendas included drafting a new constitution, legalising same-sex marriage, decentralising administrative power, and reimposing controls on the production and sale of marijuana. Pavinee Bunyamissara, a partner at Nishimura & Asahi’s Bangkok office, entrusts the highly educated, progressive MFP leader Pita with charting an upward economic trajectory for Thailand, the secondlargest economy in ASEAN. “His educational background- a Master of Public Policy (degree) which trained him on economic and public policy issues and a Master of business administration (degree) led us to the believing that he has good relevant knowledge,” says Pavinee. Thailand is on track to a stable recovery after years of COVIDrelated shutdown buffeted the tourism sector – the bloodline of its economy. The Southeast Asian country is poised for a 3.6 percent GDP growth this year, a jump from last year’s 2.6 percent expansion. It is also shielded from inflationary pressure that persisted in the United States and Europe, with inflation projected to fall below three percent this year. WHAT SECTORS ARE LIKELY TO SEE CHANGES? Vowing to “demilitarise, demonopolise and decentralise,” Pita, the rising star in Thailand politics, is confronted with the tricky task of following through bold commitment to changes without uprooting the entrenched conservative business and political interests. For example, Pita has pledged to increase the minimum wage and improve the social security system for workers, amidst concerns that such measures will increase pressure on businesses which are prone to shift their production bases elsewhere for lower labour and operational costs. But Pavinee is confident, citing positive feedback from a recent meeting between Pita and the Federation of Thai Industry, whose members include industry heavyweights. “The meeting is to seek details about the proposals put forward by a joint committee on commerce, industry, and banking and to elaborate MFP’s economic policies,” explains Pavinee. Pavinee also highlights specific sectors that she believes have the potential to turbocharge the Thai economy. u u Image: Stockerz/