Baht and containers crucial to export hike

Baht and containers crucial to export hike

Exports, a key driver of the country's economic growth, could fare better than 3-4% growth this year if the government provides more support, particularly in handling the persistent baht rise and the container shortage, says the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC).

According to Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, the TNSC's chairwoman, the government through the Bank of Thailand has to ensure the baht's stability to make it competitive, in line with the currencies of our trade competitors to avoid compounding the hardships of entrepreneurs being battered by the pandemic.

She said the government is also urged to speed up tackling the container shortage by utilising containers seized by the Customs Department, reducing port charges at key ports to stimulate the import of empty containers to Thailand, and providing aid measures as well as subsidies to exporters and importers of both industrial and agricultural goods that are unable to conduct business because of the container shortage.

The government should permit and facilitate ships measuring 400 metres to enter Laem Chabang deep-sea port and re-examine existing empty containers in Thailand stored in container depots to make the best use of them, said Ms Ghanyapad.

The TNSC is scheduled to discuss the container shortage with officials at the Commerce Ministry tomorrow, she said.

For the longer term, the council proposes the government continue rolling out economic stimulus measures, especially to help shore up the export and tourism sectors expected to see higher unemployment because of production capacity reduction and barriers to foreign tourist entry.

The government should expedite digital economy developments such as the national digital trade platform, the national single window and the port community system to allow bureaucratic processes to be completed electronically, said Ms Ghanyapad.

She said the government desperately needs to rev up free trade agreement negotiations to cover those with the UK, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Pakistan and Turkey, expanding Thailand's trade opportunities.

"The country's exports in 2020 fared better than expected, contracting by 6.1% from the previous year, reflecting an economic recovery in some countries," said Ms Ghanyapad.

"We expect exports to rebound to 3-4% growth this year to US$238-240 billion, driven by a recovery in the global economy and the expansion of industrial and agricultural products, electrical circuits, electronic parts, plastic pellets, food, fruit, and products related to working from home."

Visit Limlurcha, vice-chairman of TNSC, said the military coup in Myanmar has yet to affect Thailand's trade.

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