Commerce Ministry: US-China squabbles hurt

Commerce Ministry: US-China squabbles hurt

Bangkok Post graphics
Bangkok Post graphics

Thailand lost an estimated US$780 million worth of export revenue from the ongoing trade spat between the US and China in the 12 months ending on March 31, says the top Commerce Ministry official.

Chutima Bunyapraphasara, the acting commerce minister, said a study found that Thailand's exports as of March 31 were down 0.3% to $780 million because of the trade row.

Shipments to the US fell by $316.5 million during the period, mainly from the toll on solar cells, washing machines, steel products and aluminium.

Automobiles and parts, housing and office products, computer components and circuits, electric appliances, and machines shipped to China fell by an estimated $1.10 billion.

Lower shipments were offset by higher exports to the US of automobiles and auto parts, garments, jewellery and ornaments, computer parts and electrical circuits, electric appliances, and processed food, considered substitutes for Chinese products. These shipments totalled $637 million for the same period.

Ms Chutima said the ministry is scheduled to call a meeting of the directors of Thai Trade Center offices worldwide at the end of May to evaluate the international trade situation and discuss plans to stimulate exports in the second half.

She said the International Trade Promotion Department is beefing up export promotions in secondary markets, including India and the Middle East.

"Thailand will make every effort to diversify during the global economic slowdown," Ms Chutima said.

The country is monitoring US-China trade talks after the Trump administration recently threatened to raise tariffs on roughly $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%.

If the US raises tariffs to 25%, global capital markets, oil and gold prices will be greatly affected, as well as consumer confidence and Thailand's economic prospects, Ms Chutima said.

Banjongjitt Angsusingh, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said overseas offices were ordered to study the impact of an increase to 25% tariffs on Chinese exports.

The ministry is maintaining an export growth forecast of 8% this year after a 6.7% increase in 2018, though a shippers group recently cut its outlook to 3% this year based on the global economic slowdown, the Brexit impasse and the US-China trade dispute.

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