The Commerce Ministry has set a tentative export growth target of 9% for next year, but effects from baht gains driven by the new US fiscal stimulus and from the domestic minimum wage hike may see that figure adjusted.
Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom yesterday said the initial working target would be set at 9% but baulked at declaring an exact official figure.
At the end of last month, he said the ministry would announce the exact target in the first week of this month after it had thoroughly evaluated foreign trade and discussed it with exporters.
Exports are one of the more contentious issues facing the Yingluck Shinawatra administration along with the capital-intensive rice pledging scheme.
Kittiratt Na-Ranong, the finance minister and deputy prime minister, admitted in August that an earlier pledge that exports would grow by 15% this year was a "white lie", which drew a massive public rebuke.
In the latest forecast, export growth is expected to end this year at between 4.5% and 5%.
Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said the ministry's export focus next year will be on Asean, Latin America, Africa and Asia including the Middle East.
Export targets also include countries with which Thailand has free trade agreements including Peru and China.
Those markets should help offset sluggish performance in key markets such as the US and Europe.
The daily minimum wage increase to 300 baht nationwide on Jan 1 and the intensifying labour shortage will also be key concerns for exporters.
Ms Srirat said the department will hold talks with the private sector and the Bank of Thailand on an appropriate exchange rate and the impact of baht gains on exports fuelled by the US's stronger fiscal stimulus.
She also pledged to set up a special task force to promote the Kitchen of the World scheme, One Tambon One Product scheme, small and medium-sized enterprises and innovative products.
Pornsil Patcharintanakul, vice-chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the tentative export growth target set by the ministry is in an acceptable range, but target figures should be revised every six months.
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter