UTCC: 3.6% export gain in 2021
Thailand's exports are recovering and expected to tally growth of 3.6% this year to US$237 billion if a Covid-19 vaccine becomes effective and sufficient as hoped, says the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC).
Aat Pisanwanich, director of the UTCC's Center for International Trade Studies, said Thailand's growth prospects depend mostly on the availability of a vaccine and its efficacy in preventing the virus.
The strong baht, a shortage of containers, and an insufficient distribution of a vaccine are key risks for Thai exports this year.
"According to the university's study, Thai exports are highly likely to recover from a projected 7% contraction to $229 billion last year," he said.
"The study found if Covid-19 vaccine production is available this year and supply is sufficient to cover 40% of the world population, Thai exports have a chance to grow 3.6% this year to $237 billion."
Conversely, if a vaccine is not available or effective, exports are forecast to shrink by 0.81% this year to $227 billion.
Promising export products include rubber gloves, food related to healthcare, and cosmetics, said Mr Aat.
The forecast includes positive factors such as a global economic recovery, including for Thailand's trading partners, the availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, relatively high oil prices, and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
He said the university is monitoring the trade policy of US president-elect Joe Biden; US environmental policies related to zero waste; bio-, circular and green economies; and non-tariff measures such as carbon taxes and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership that may affect Thai exports.
Another factor is a ban on Chinese exports such as cotton and tomatoes by the UK and Canada, said Mr Aat.
He suggested Thailand prepare for stringent import measures from China, especially for durian after the fresh outbreak here as well as in China.
Mr Aat proposed the government introduce lockdown measures in the provinces dubbed red zones that are export production bases to control the outbreak and prevent any virus spread.
He said Thailand should have a traceability system for agricultural export products, with Covid-free stickers to build up foreign consumer confidence.
Regarding the shipping container shortage, Mr Aat said the government should set up a fund to reduce the shipping burden for exporters and speed up negotiations with container operators to import them to Thailand.
The country also needs to increase the export channels for agricultural products by land and air transport, he said.