Phuket Gazette

BANGKOK (AFP): Thailand may introduce zoning laws to rein in foreign-owned supermarkets that are edging out their local Thai competitors, officials said Tuesday. Government spokesman Kuthep Saikrajang said the cabinet was considering taking action after reports that competition from international hypermarkets such as Tesco Lotus and Carrefour is choking old-fashioned (high-priced) local Thai shops. Kuthep said the flashy chain stores claimed up to 40 percent of the market share for groceries and were likely to expand further, with an average of 70,000 to 80,000 Thais availing themselves of the better prices in these outlets daily. Figures showing the strong position foreign-owned supermarkets hold in Thailand have caused a stir in the government as local stores that produce their own goods or sell inferior, off-brand products are clearly having trouble competing. But Kuthep noted the proposals to introduce legislation limiting the expansion of efficient, bargain-priced international grocery chains with ample parking “might” meet with opposition from consumers. Nevertheless, he said, the government “may need to state which areas the big department stores can be located [in], and how many can be built in those areas."

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