TNSC: 15% export decline if 2nd-half rebound falters

TNSC: 15% export decline if 2nd-half rebound falters

Exports may contract by as much as 15% this year if the country averages just US$16.4 billion a month in the second half of the year, according to a group of Thai exporters.

Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), said on Tuesday that the council looks set to downgrade its shipment forecast if the overall export performance remains unimproved next month.

In July, Thai shippers downgraded the country's export outlook to a 10% contraction, deeper than the previous forecast of an 8% drop, due to the coronavirus crisis and the strong baht.

Weakening purchasing power and the ailing economies of key trading partners were key components in the TNSC's export forecast cut.

"We are keeping the 2020 export forecast at a 10% contraction," Ms Ghanyapad said. "Given a raft of negative factors, we're afraid shipments may fall by 15% if the monthly figures for the remaining months do not improve and total less than $17 billion a month."

According to the Commerce Ministry's report, customs-cleared exports tumbled 23.2% year-on-year in June, the weakest pace since July 2009.

Exports fetched $16.4 billion in June, with imports dropping 18.1% to $14.8 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $1.61 billion.

For the first half, exports fell 7.1% from the same period last year to $114 billion, while imports dropped 12.6% to $104 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $10.7 billion.

Exporters want the state to take more serious action to address export constraints, Ms Ghanyapad said, adding that the government moves very slowly to tackle problems.

"In recent months, the private sector filed several proposals with the government, but the response has been slow, especially for financial relief and low-interest loans," she said. "Shippers also proposed that the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation help provide credit guarantees to companies so they can more easily access soft loans."

Ms Ghanyapad said shippers have called on the central bank to rein in the baht so it will fare better against competitors' currencies.

Visit Limlurcha, vice-chairman of the TNSC, said the deep contraction over May and June reflected the reality of how seriously Thai exports were being hit by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures.

Recovery signs have yet to appear in the third quarter because a vaccine is not forthcoming, he said.

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