Panel hikes export growth view

Panel hikes export growth view

JSCCIB forecast sees 6.5-7.5% for full year

Stacked cargo containers await shipment at Bangkok port. A key committee raised its 2017 forecast for exports after a strong eight months. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN
Stacked cargo containers await shipment at Bangkok port. A key committee raised its 2017 forecast for exports after a strong eight months. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) has raised its 2017 forecast for export growth to 6.5-7.5% after witnessing strong gains the first eight months of the year.

The range is well above the previous forecast of 3.5-4.5% and matches the view of the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC) based on strong demand overseas.

Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, who also chaired the JSCCIB meeting yesterday, said exports for the first eight months grew by 8.9% from the same period last year to US$153.6 billion (5.13 trillion baht). That is two-thirds of the full-year export target of $230.5 billion.

The TNSC increased its full-year export growth forecast to 7-8% because of strong demand overseas, causing shipments the first eight months to post higher-than-expected results. It predicts demand should rise further in the last quarter this year because of year-end celebrations.

TNSC chairwoman Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong said she expects monthly exports in the final four months this year to exceed $20 billion because of strong demand overseas.

"That should push exports for the year to grow by 7-8%," she said.

Positive factors that are expected to continue to lend support to Thai exports during the rest of the year are the recovering economies of Thailand's major trade partners, particularly the US, Japan, China and Asean neighbours, Ms Ghanyapad said.

The prices of major commodities are also rising globally, which should help Thailand realise higher revenue, she said.

But the stronger baht remains a major risk that could trim exports if it continues to rise, said Wisit Limluecha, vice-president of the TNSC.

The baht has risen more than 7% this year, leading its Asian peers and raising concerns among exporters that the stronger currency could hurt Thai shipments.

Some exporters and analysts have said the stronger baht could start having a negative impact on exports next year if the currency continues to rise beyond the level of 33 to the US dollar.

"I'm afraid that next year the exports of major commodities will be affected, since buyers will hold back their orders if the baht continues to rise and makes the prices of Thai commodities uncompetitive," Mr Wisit said.

The TNSC expects export growth to be at least 6% this year, even if the baht continues to rise in the last quarter or if any other uncontrollable external risks emerge towards the end of this year.

Mr Wisit said the business sector is monitoring the outcome of the official visit of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to the US, expecting the premier to deliver some US cooperation that could lend support to Thailand's economy as it continues to recover.

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