Thai Shippers’ Council eyes 0-1% export growth amid new government push

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The Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) maintains that the nation’s exports can achieve a growth of 0-1% this year, calling for the swift formation of a new government to boost trade competitiveness and tackle economic challenges.

TNSC Chairman Chaichan Chareonsuk anticipates that Thai exports from May to June will experience a slight year-on-year contraction, leading to a 5-6% decline for the first half of the year. Nevertheless, he sees potential for export growth acceleration in the second half of the year, resulting in a 0-1% increase for the entire year.

“If we do nothing, it will remain a hope, but we have already strategised on how to actively tap more new markets for certain products. There is a possibility this year’s exports will reach 0-1% growth,” said Chaichan.

According to the Commerce Ministry’s latest data, in the first four months of 2023, Thai exports decreased by 5.2% year-on-year to US$92 billion, while imports fell by 2.2% to $96.5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $4.51 billion.

Chaichan stated that Thai shipments have passed their lowest point and are moving in the same direction as the global market. Both the public and private sectors have planned aggressive market openings in new regions such as the Middle East, China, and India, where the economies are recovering, he said.

Special task forces have been established to ramp up exports for specific products such as rice, food, rubber and sugar to compensate for the decline in hard disk drives, plastic pellets, textiles and garments.

Chaichan said several risk factors could hinder export plans in the second half of the year and affect the economy. These include delays in the formation of a government, which could stymie export promotion plans and the country’s economic performance, as well as global economic uncertainties resulting from geopolitical conflicts affecting several sectors such as finance, manufacturing, exports, raw materials and energy.

Global interest rates remain high, leading to a sluggish economy and raising the financial costs for business operators.

More importantly, production costs remain high, such as electricity bills, which affect Thailand’s price competitiveness, he said.

In addition, the volume of stockpiled goods in trading partners remains high, resulting in delayed orders, while weather-related factors could affect the agricultural sector in Thailand.

Given these circumstances, the TNSC suggests expediting the process to form a government, enabling the promotion of export plans and efforts to address economic issues.

The group asked the Bank of Thailand to carefully consider adjusting interest rates to prevent an excessive burden on small and medium-sized enterprises. The TNSC also urged the government to provide appropriate electricity management services to mitigate the impact on production costs and maintain a competitive advantage with key trading partners.

The council recommended implementing mechanisms to promote trade-related measures that are environmentally friendly.

Moreover, Chaichan said the TNSC prepared a strategic plan to enhance Thailand’s trade competitiveness that it plans to propose to the new government. The plan consists of three main strategies: reducing costs, improving efficiency, and creating trade opportunities to support continuous export growth through 2024, reports Bangkok Post.

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Alex Morgan

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