FTI edgy on negative factors in outlook

FTI edgy on negative factors in outlook

Local sales, output set for 0.8% growth

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has a conservative outlook on the country's automotive industry in 2019, saying there are ample negative factors to pressure both domestic sales and exports.

The FTI's automotive industry club forecasts 2019 car output at 2.15 million units, up 0.8%.

For local sales, the club expects 1.05 million cars to be sold in 2019, up 0.8%. Car exports are seen at 1.1 million cars, down 3.6%.

"The industry will suffer from the US-China trade war, affecting overall international trade because when China's economy declines, Thai shipments will contract as well," said club spokesman Surapong Paisitpatanapong.

"There are many conditions that will create fragility in car shipments."

Mr Surapong said the country's economic sentiment seems to be better, but GDP still relies mainly on exports.

Positive factors for the local car market include the state's budget disbursement, new megaprojects and crop pricing measures for farmers.

Mr Surapong said the announced general election on March 24 provides a clear sign from the government and will increase confidence from investors, companies and other parties.

"The club expects new investment flows from the public and private sectors will beef up the automotive industry in 2019," he said.

"This is the final year for carmakers to implement the eco-car scheme. We are optimistic this scheme will boost output, sales and exports in the near future."

The automotive club reported yesterday the country's automotive output in 2018 was 2.168 million cars, the highest five years, up by 8.99% from 2017.

The club said the growth came from a sharp rise in the country's car sales in 2018, with 19.5% growth to 1.042 million units, another five-year high.

In December, car sales stood at 113,581 units, the highest since January 2014, with a growth of 8.9% year-on-year and 20% month-on-month.

Last year's output and sales reflected two consecutive years of strong performance, the best since the industry's record numbers propelled by the Yingluck Shinawatra government's first-time car buyer scheme in 2012-13.

In 2012, output totalled 2.454 million cars and sales stood at 1.436 million cars.

In 2013, production was 2.547 million cars and sales totalled 1.33 million cars.

The club reported car exports in 2018 totalled 1.141 million units, up slightly by 0.08% after a contraction during 2016-17.

Export value for the period was 595 billion baht, down by 1.36%.

Mr Surapong said Europe and North America shipped fewer cars from Thailand in 2018, while the Middle East, Central and South America saw poor economic situations.

The club reported the motorcycle industry in 2018 saw production for both completely built-up and knocked-down units of 2.578 million, up by 1.67%.

Local sales totalled 1.79 million motorcycles in 2018, a decrease by 1.2%.

Motorcycle exports for the period rose by 4.38% to 886,275 units for both completely built-up and knocked-down models for a total value of 61.7 billion baht, up by 12.5%.

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