FTI jittery over new lockdowns

FTI jittery over new lockdowns

Fears measures will set back recovery

Visitors to Bangkok's Bang Khae market are urged to wear masks after a new cluster of infections were detected in the area. Arnun Chonmahatrakool
Visitors to Bangkok's Bang Khae market are urged to wear masks after a new cluster of infections were detected in the area. Arnun Chonmahatrakool

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is worried efforts to restore the reeling Thai and global economies may face a setback as some European countries have renewed lockdown measures amid fears of coronavirus mutations.

The FTI's concerns emerged as Thailand reported a new cluster of Covid-19 infections in Bang Khae district in western Bangkok as the country is gearing up to relax measures aimed at containing the virus in April.

FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree said the FTI is closely monitoring the situation in Europe after Italy, one of the countries with a high number of infections, imposed a new lockdown.

"If the pandemic leads to a new round of outbreaks and many countries cannot control it, the global economy is likely to shrink," he said.

The FTI hopes the ongoing vaccinations for a number of people in many countries will receive a good result and help the government better cope with the pandemic.

Medical experts said each country needs to speed up efforts to vaccinate people to prevent the virus from mutating, which may affect the efficacy of vaccines. To mutate, the virus needs humans to host it.

New Covid-19 outbreaks will deal a further blow to the world economy and affect the export sector, said Surapong Paisitpatanapong, vice-chairman and spokesman of the FTI's automotive club.

"Some European countries are facing new variants of the virus, " he said.

"It seems difficult to control Covid-19, causing some countries to resort to lockdown measures."

Thai export products, notably cars, have seen signs of recovery and expansion since January this year, but if lockdown measures are reinstated, the automotive industry is unlikely to avoid the impact.

"Exports to European countries have continued to get better so far, but we have to recheck the volume and further closely monitor the situation," he said.

In case car exports are affected, car makers need to rely on domestic sales, hoping this will cushion the impact.

Organisers are preparing to hold the 42nd Bangkok International Motor Show between March 22 and April 4. The FTI hopes the event will boost car production, helping the country reach a target of 1.5 million units this year.

Apisamai Srirangson, spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said CCSA will meet this week to consider rolling out a further relaxation of restrictions, earlier imposed to contain new Covid-19 outbreak in mid-December last year. Starting on April 1, the easing will be in line with the state's vaccination plan, she said.

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