Opportunity plentiful in medical supplies exports
Exporters are being urged to make the best use of existing free trade agreements (FTAs) to boost shipments of medical supplies, particularly for syringes and medical needles, as the pandemic has driven import demand for such products.
Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said the outbreak has resulted in rising demand for medical supplies including syringes.
"Once a vaccine is developed, we believe demand will surge further," she said. Thai entrepreneurs should speed up their production to serve higher demand both at home and abroad.
Higher use of tariff privileges offered under FTAs will enable Thai entrepreneurs to rapidly expand their exports in overseas markets, said Mrs Auramon.
She said in the first six months of 2020, several countries were stocking up on imports of syringes and medical needles.
For instance, during the period the US imported US$403 million worth of syringes, up 4%, while Japan's imports of similar products rose 6% to $97 million, with France's imports up 0.4% to $67 million, Russia up 11% to $28 million, South Korea gaining 4% to $24 million and Chile up 31% to $5 million.
Mrs Auramon said Thailand has relatively high potential for metal syringe production and exports. The country ranks No.1 for syringe production in Asean and is No.6 in the world.
"Thai producers should take this opportunity to rev up their supply for the domestic and export markets, especially to the 18 countries with which Thailand has FTAs implemented," she said.
"Without any import tariffs on syringes, medical needles and other medical supplies, Thai products are competitively priced compared with those from other countries."
In the first six months of 2020, Thailand exported medical needles and syringes worth $200 million, up 10.6% from the same period last year.
Metal syringes grew 4% to $62.9 million followed by other syringes, rising 14% to $134 million. Syringes with removable needles were up 6% to $2.8 million.
Major export markets were Japan, the US, France, Germany and China.
Shipments to countries with which Thailand has FTAs totalled $86.3 million, accounting for 43% of Thailand's total needle and syringe exports.