Asia

The Bank of Thailand cut its benchmark interest rate to a fresh record low and said it was ready to use additional policy tools if needed with the economy expected to shrink further. By a 4-3 vote, the central bank lowered the policy rate Wednesday by 25 basis points to 0.5%, its third cut this year, Bloomberg News reported. All but three of 24 economists in a Bloomberg survey correctly predicted the decision, with the others expecting no change.

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On the night of May 12, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the nation of 1.3 billion people abuzz with promises of unleashing a massive stimulus to shore up an economy facing its deepest recession in decades, Bloomberg News reported. A week later and after five drawn-out press conferences by his Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the entire package of about 21 trillion rupees ($277 billion), or 10% of India gross domestic product, underwhelmed economists and investors alike.

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The Tanzanian unit of Kenya’s ARM Cement Plc has been sold to China’s Huaxin Cement company, its administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers and Huaxin said on Wednesday, paving way for completion of one of its production plant, Reuters reported. Huaxin would inject $116 million into the unit, Maweni Limestone Ltd, to settle liabilities, and another $30 million to complete plant construction and upgrade, according to their joint statement. ARM Cement was put under administration in August 2018 by some of its creditors over a $190 million debt and its shares were suspended from the Nairobi bourse.

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Thailand’s cabinet approved a plan to restructure troubled Thai Airways International Pcl’s finances through a bankruptcy court, the Southeast Asian country’s prime minister said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The plan for a court-led restructuring of the national carrier replaces a previous proposal of a government-backed rescue package that was heavily criticised in the country. The airline’s troubles are the latest example of how the coronavirus pandemic is crippling the global airline industry.

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The world’s post-coronavirus economic future could depend on mass career migration away from sectors such as retail, entertainment and travel, Japan’s most powerful business leader has warned, the Financial Times reported. Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of Hitachi and head of the Keidanren business lobby, told the Financial Times in an interview that propping up businesses during lockdown was not sufficient and governments would need to shift spending away from furloughs towards fundamental economic restructuring.

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Thyssenkrupp AG is considering the sale of units that make steel and submarines as the conglomerate fights for survival in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg News reported. The company said on Monday it will explore “consolidation options” for the two businesses in the latest plank in management’s strategy to downsize the firm and concentrate on higher-margin business areas after years of struggles. “We have taken some difficult decisions that were long overdue,” Chief Executive Officer Martina Merz said in a statement.

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China, Africa’s largest bilateral creditor, is likely to agree to delay but not forgive its $152 billion of loans, an approach at odds with prior forbearance plans from groups including the Paris Club, according to a top Johns Hopkins University researcher, Bloomberg News reported. “The Chinese have always done their lending on the idea that individual projects contribute to structural transformation and economic development,” said Deborah Brautigam, who heads the China Africa Research Initiative at JHU’s School of Advanced International Studies.

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Thailand’s government said on Monday it plans to submit a rehabilitation plan for troubled national carrier Thai Airways International Pcl to a bankruptcy court rather than go ahead with a planned rescue, Reuters reported. “The State-Enterprise Planning Office agreed in principle for the rehabilitation of Thai Airways in court ... the procedure will be submitted to cabinet tomorrow,” government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.

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Japan’s economy sank last quarter into a recession that’s likely to deepen further as households limit spending to essentials and companies cut investment, production and hiring to stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg News reported. Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 3.4% in the three months through March from the previous quarter as exports slid and social distancing crimped consumer spending, Cabinet Office figures showed Monday.

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India said on Sunday it would privatise state-run companies in non-strategic sectors and stop fresh insolvency cases for a year, as the country battles with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. A list of strategic sectors will also be announced in which only one to four public sector enterprises will remain, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, as part of a slew of measures to kickstart the economy. Indian officials said most of the privatisations would happen in the next fiscal year, starting April 2021.

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