May index sees slight rise after lockdown eased

May index sees slight rise after lockdown eased

Thailand's manufacturing production index (MPI) in May climbed slightly from April to 80.3, but was still down by 23.1% year-on-year.

The improvement was mainly attributed to the easing of the lockdown, though overall production was unimpressive as businesses struggled against weak domestic purchasing power, lower exports, a global economic slowdown, a drought and the nationwide curfew, which was still in place in May.

Compared with 2019, MPI in May decreased 23.1% from 104.57 points, said Ittichai Yotsri, deputy director-general of the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE).

Thailand and many countries used lockdown measures to control virus infections, but this affected a large number of businesses, forcing them to reduce employment or even shut down, he said.

"The MPI in May managed to increase by 2.8% from April because the government began to relax the lockdown measures, allowing business activities to resume," Mr Ittichai said.

The increase was attributed to some industries that grew during the pandemic.

The fertiliser business expanded by 24.8% year-on-year because of higher demand for the products in the agricultural market.

Canned seafood manufacture rose by 21.5% year-on-year as the pandemic caused consumers to buy food that can be kept longer and the supply of raw materials like tuna and sardines also increased this year.

The dairy milk industry increased by 5.9% year-on-year, thanks to more orders from Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia, where dairy product plants were temporarily shut down.

The medicine industry also expanded by 10% year-on-year as a result of the pandemic.

However, the OIE maintains its MPI outlook for 2020, which is expected to hit a record low of negative 6-7%, with industrial GDP contracting 5.5-6.5%.

Earlier this year, it projected the index would grow 2-3% and industrial GDP would gain 1.5-2.5%.

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