Vaccine dispersal key to driving exports
The government is being urged to speed up allocation of Covid-19 vaccines to the manufacturing sector to increase exports, which are the only engine driving the country's economy.
Chaichan Chareonsuk, president of the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), said the group repeated its call for the administration to expedite vaccine distribution to cover all groups, especially workers in the manufacturing sector.
"Vaccination can help stop the spread of infections in the supply chains of industrial factories," he said. "The export sector is the only engine driving the Thai economy, with tourism likely to take time to recover."
Mr Chaichan said outbreaks in many industrial groups around the country have begun to affect the production process in the export sector, as factories temporarily halt their production and postpone the delivery of goods to destination countries.
He said other risk factors are labour and chip shortages, the rising cost of electrical appliances such as televisions and smartphones, and rising steel prices in the world market, adding that the council is about to propose that the Labour Ministry address the labour shortage for exporters that require additional more than 200,000 foreign labourers to serve the labour-intensive industries such as chicken processing, garments and textiles, rubber products and electronics.
Foreign workers have returned to the country but have not yet returned from lockdown.
As well, he said the container shortage and higher freight costs remain risk factors for Thailand's export sector.
TNSC forecasts that if the government helps eliminate existing obstacles, the country's exports have an opportunity to expand by 10% this year.
"Some products have recovered, including rubber and rubber products, food, auto parts, electrical appliances and electronics, plastic pellets and chemicals, while products that are expected to start recovering in the third and fourth quarters are garments and textiles, frozen chicken, automobiles, tapioca and construction materials," he said.
Mr Chaichan said positive factors include strong recovery in the global economy from economic expansion of major trading partners such as the US, China, the EU and Japan from the implementation of large-scale economic stimulus measures and progress in vaccinations that build up people's confidence in the return of economic activities and normal spending.
Thai exports are maintaining healthy growth momentum, recording the fastest expansion in 11 years in May, driven by strong global demand and economic recovery among trading partners as the state continues aggressive promotion.
The country's customs-cleared exports rose for a third month, rising 41.6% from May last year to US$23.1 billion (736.1 billion baht), after gains of 13.1% and 8.47% in April and March, respectively, and a 2.59% contraction in February.