Crisis shutters 404 factories

Crisis shutters 404 factories

Over 16,000 workers lost jobs in first half

A worker in Chon Buri assembles high-voltage batteries for vehicles. Thailand's manufacturing sector has been hit hard by the pandemic.  (Photo by Watcharawit Phudork)
A worker in Chon Buri assembles high-voltage batteries for vehicles. Thailand's manufacturing sector has been hit hard by the pandemic.  (Photo by Watcharawit Phudork)

Up to 16,680 factory workers lost their jobs in Thailand in the first six months of the year, with 404 factories closing down, as the pandemic continues to hamper the economy, according to the Department of Industrial Works (DIW).

The country has lost an estimated 25.4 billion baht in investment value from the closures.

Most of the businesses that shut down were small and medium-sized enterprises that could not afford the stresses on the economy caused by the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown measures, said DIW director-general Prakob Vivitjinda.

"During the same period in 2019, 666 factories closed permanently in Thailand, so the DIW is actually not very concerned about the factory closures because they are relatively normal," he said.

The DIW also reported that 1,702 factories registered their businesses in the country in the first six months of the year, a 10.2% year-on-year increase, with a total investment value of 174.8 billion baht, a 14.1% year-on-year decrease.

The department expects to learn more about the effects of the outbreak on the industrial sector in the third and fourth quarters of the year.

"What the full impact of the pandemic will be on factories so far in the first half of the year is difficult to gauge," Mr Prakob said.

The government is keen to attract investors who want to relocate their manufacturing base to Asean and Thailand, believing that the region's ability to efficiently handle the outbreak is a major selling point for businesses looking to expand.

Mr Prakob said the DIW has proposed to the Industry Ministry an economic rehabilitation plan of five projects worth a total of 148 billion baht to support domestic factories.

The department is in talks with domestic financial institutions to participate in a scheme to securitise machinery leases in cooperation with the Industry Ministry.

"The government wants to support factories with access to soft loans at low interest rates," Mr Prakob said.

Factory operators can propose their own ideas for relief measures to the DIW. The government will register and evaluate machinery as guaranteed assets to submit to financial institutions.

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