Shippers forecast exports to recover to 5% growth next year, helped by an improving global economy and world trade.
Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), said the global economy has gradually recovered, as evidenced by Thailand's higher outbound shipments in many markets.
"Despite the ongoing US-China trade spat and the Covid-19 pandemic, we feel upbeat about next year's export prospects," said Ms Ghanyapad.
"Thai products that are expected to see good growth include food and farm products."
She said Thailand should have higher productivity in the farm sector, pointing to sugar cane and tapioca as two products that faced lower production over the past two years because of widespread drought.
With a gradual improvement of exports and recovering global demand, the TNSC upgraded its forecast on exports to a 7% drop for this year, better than the 10% contraction predicted in July.
"With positive shipments in the second half of the year, especially in the third quarter when exports fell less than the second quarter, we expect exports to keep improving this year," said Ms Ghanyapad.
If the country fetches US$19 billion a month in the remaining months of the year, overall exports are likely to contract 7% this year.
The Commerce Ministry reported on Oct 22 customs-cleared exports fell 3.9% year-on-year in September, fetching $19.6 billion, while imports declined 9.1% to $17.4 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $2.23 billion.
For the first nine months exports fell 7.3% to $173 billion, while imports dropped 14.6% to $152 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $20.6 billion.
Visit Limlurcha, vice-president of TNSC, said improving shipments in September reflected more active global trade.
"Thai exports have already bottomed out and are on the recovery path, which is a good sign," said Mr Visit, also president of the Thai Food Processors Association.
"For the remaining three months, we expect exports to fetch $19-20 billion a month, leading full-year exports to contract 7% this year."
Referring to the impact of the US election, Ms Ghanyapad said Thailand may see more difficulties if the new president is Joe Biden and the US decides to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.