Bangkok’s US$100 billion GDP at risk from Fascist Suthep

Fascist Suthep says he will shut-down Bangkok‘s road traffic, at a date some time this month for long-term duration. That puts Bangkok’s GDP of about US$100 billion is at risk. Much of that GDP depends on road communications infrastructure such as trade, tourism and corporate center.

Last week, a mere about 100 protesters with about 5 cars, shut down one of Bangkok’s major road artery, for about two hours, causing a chain reaction, of traffic grid-lock havoc that spread across the entire Bangkok. An angered motorist, caught in that grid-lock, threw a water bottle at the about 100 protesters, and he was beaten to a pulp and lay un-conscious in the middle of the road, near his car.

Local press reports many employees are complaining, but some believe it will be difficult for Fascist Suthep to completely shut down Bangkok, because the city covers such a wide area, and the protesters will struggle to block major roads for days. The Thai police have said they will not attempt to re-open roads that are blocked by protesters, citing fear of violent confrontation with protesters.

Bangkok is the economic centre of Thailand, and the heart of the country’s investment and development. In 2010, the city had an economic output of 3.142 trillion baht (approx. US$98.34bn), contributing 29.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). This amounted to a per-capita GDP value of ฿456,911 ($14,301), almost three times the national average of ฿160,556 ($5,025). The Bangkok Metropolitan Region had a combined output of ฿4.773tn ($149.39bn), or 44.2 percent of GDP. Bangkok’s economy ranks as the sixth among Asian cities in terms of per-capita GDP, after Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka–Kobe and Seoul.

Wholesale and retail trade is the largest sector in the city’s economy, contributing 24.0 percent of Bangkok’s gross provincial product. It is followed by manufacturing (14.3%); real estate, renting and business activities (12.4%); transport and communications (11.6%); and financial intermediation (11.1%). Bangkok alone accounts for 48.4 percent of Thailand’s service sector, which in turn constitutes 49.0 percent of GDP. When the Bangkok Metropolitan Region is considered, manufacturing is the most significant contributor at 28.2 percent of the gross regional product, reflecting the density of industry in the Bangkok’s neighbouring provinces. The automotive industry based around Greater Bangkok is the largest production hub in Southeast Asia. Tourism is also a significant contributor to Bangkok’s economy, generating ฿427.5bn ($13.38bn) in revenue in 2010.

Local press reports many employees are complaining, with some employee warning protest leaders against the shutdown, saying leaders cannot just think of those who will attend the rally, but all those who may not sympathise but stand to be affected. “Protest leaders need to think about people who think differently from them,” said Jaruwan Kosoom, another employee.

However, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban expects the shutdown to last for a long time if the caretaker government refuses to step down. “This fight may last 10 or 20 days,” he told rally-goers during his speech on Sunday, adding he would set the shutdown date after the New Year.

Local press reports some Bangkokians are worried whether they will still be able to buy food, as the transport of goods is likely to be disrupted by any shutdown. Local press says caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt shared residents’ concerns about the impact of Mr Suthep’s planned shutdown. He posted a message on his Facebook page yesterday, saying that people who travel by road will bear the heaviest brunt. “I disagree with taking people’s means of travel hostage,” he said.

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