OIE downplays dip in factory output
The Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) has brushed aside any concern over the decline in the Manufacturing Production Index (MPI) in September, saying growth in the first nine months remained healthy.
The OIE reported yesterday that the MPI in September saw a year-on-year contraction for the first time in 17 months, falling 2.6% to 111.2 points.
But the index for January to September increased by 2.9% to 115.27 points.
Itichai Patamasiriwat, the OIE's deputy director-general, said the drop in September alone was led by clouded sentiment for the country's export sector, which fell by 1.4% for industrial products last month.
"Cars, auto parts, jewellery, accessories, rubber products, electronic boards and machinery decreased in terms of shipments in September," Mr Itichai said, but overall exports for industrial products saw 9.8% growth over the first nine months.
According to the OIE, automotive output for export in September fell by 13.7% to 104,163 units.
Shipments of electronics and appliances last month stood at US$5.29 billion, down 2.9%.
Mr Itichai said the number of Chinese tourists entering the country fell by 14.9% year-on-year in September, marking a three-month skid. The impact is being felt in local consumption and consumer confidence.
Chinese tourists represent 30% of all foreign visitors, Mr Itichai said.
The OIE reported that the industrial utilisation rate in September stood at 66.35%, unchanged from the month before.
The OIE forecasts the index for October to edge up 0.19% because local purchasing power remains shaky, particularly for farmers.
Mr Itichai said the country's industrial sector will gain from the government's Eastern Economic Corridor scheme.
Furthermore, some products have performed well domestically and from exports. For example, sugar production grew by nearly 108% in September, thanks to the massive volume of sugar cane from the previous sugar-crushing season, which ended in May.
The new season is expected to be postponed.
Printed circuit board assembly and integrated circuit output rose by 7.1% last month, while petroleum grew by 8.6%, driven by gasohol 95 and diesel in the local market.
Production of air conditioners and parts rose by 15.8% in September on exports to Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia, while distributors ran promotional campaigns to stimulate the domestic market.
The OIE said potential growth in some industrial products could offset declines in others.