Commerce Ministry pulls out the stops to hike exports
Private sector pushed to speed up deliveries
In a last-ditch effort to boost exports in the remainder of this year and early next year, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit vows to rev up delivery of goods for which purchase contracts have been signed and to promote business matching.
Mr Jurin said 35 memorandums of understanding for purchase orders worth a combined 44.72 billion baht and business matching deals worth 26.24 billion baht were signed after his recent visits to several countries.
"It will help boost the country's export value a lot if the delivery of goods under the contracts already signed could be sped up within this month or early next year," he said. "The Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Thai Industries have agreed to help speed up the delivery process."
Mr Jurin chaired the export war room's meeting yesterday to discuss the trade outlook with representatives from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries and other private sector groups.
According to Mr Jurin, speedy delivery is likely for rubber contracts with India and Turkey and rice deals with Turkey and Germany.
Western Digital, Seagate Technology and Toyota were asked to accelerate their shipments for early next year.
"The Commerce Ministry and the private companies are committed to speeding up exports by as much as possible during the year-end and early next year, although the private sector is still fretting over continued baht appreciation," said Mr Jurin, who also serves as a deputy prime minister.
Sanan Angubolkul, a vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the global economic slowdown, ongoing trade war and strong baht have delivered a heavy toll on Thai exports, with the figure expected to shrink by 2.5% to US$246.23 billion this year.
For next year, he forecasts shipments to eke out 1% growth.
Mr Sanan cited the baht's prolonged strength as the key factor curbing exports.
The private sector repeated its call for the government and responsible agencies to rein in the local currency.
"The strong baht has affected the overall economy," Mr Sanan said. "The impact will definitely continue until next year if Thailand can't compete with other countries that have weaker currencies. This will eventually hit the farmers."
For the first 10 months, Thailand's exports fell by 2.4% year-on-year to $207.32 billion, with imports declining 4.1% to $199 billion, yielding a surplus of $7.88 billion.
On Tuesday, an exporter group, the Thai National Shippers' Council, cut its export growth forecast for the fifth time this year, predicting the country's outbound shipments to contract by 2.5-3% in 2019, mostly because of the global economic slowdown, the ongoing trade war and the strong baht.
The council forecast next year's export growth at 0-1%.