Thai businesses have pledged to ramp up border trade in a bid to boost export growth by as much as 5% next year.
Phongsak Assakul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said his agency and the Board of Trade plan a joint push to increase border trade with neighbouring countries.
For the first 10 months of this year, border trade fetched Thailand a total of 759 billion baht, up by 1.73% year-on-year, with the full-year performance expected to come in at 900 billion.
This year's border trade was initially projected at 1 trillion baht, but weak global demand makes this figure unlikely.
However, Mr Phongsak said businesses are upbeat about achieving 1 trillion baht in border trade next year and 2 trillion annually within the next three years.
"We expect overall exports will grow within a range of only 0-5% in 2013, as the global economy next year is yet to recover fully," said Mr Phongsak.
He said overall exports are expected to end the year with growth of only 3-4%, well below the 4.5% to 5% range projected by the Commerce Ministry.
Exports seen as most promising next year are mainly in the gems and jewellery, apparel and tapioca sectors, while air cargo, frozen seafood, furniture and rubber are expected to decline due to economic problems in the main importing economies of the US, Europe and Japan.
Mr Phongsak said the hike in the daily minimum wage to 300 baht nationwide on Jan 1 will prompt several private businesses, especially in the labour-heavy textile sector, to move to Myanmar.
"Myanmar is the most attractive investment destination. It is not only rich in natural resources but pays lower wages of 75-120 baht a day," he said.
"More importantly, the starting salary there for bachelor's degree graduates is only 3,000 to 6,000 baht a month."
Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's Center for Economic and Business Forecasting, said the wage hike will inject a cash flow of 150 billion baht a year, boosting economic growth by one percentage point.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter