Shippers keep growth outlook at 12%

Shippers keep growth outlook at 12%

A group of Thai shippers is feeling more upbeat about export prospects this year after shipments rose for the sixth month in a row in August.

Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), said on Tuesday the group maintained its forecast for Thai export growth of 12% this year to US$260 billion.

Positive factors include an economic recovery and rising demand in major trading partners such as the US, China, the EU and Japan, while mass vaccination progress resulted in greater public confidence around the world in the resumption of economic activities, he said.

Mr Chaichan said the Global Purchasing Managers' Index of key trading partners remained stable at 50 to 60 points, reflecting a strong recovery in manufacturing activities and the global economy.

More importantly, baht weakness against the US dollar helps exports immensely, he said.

However, obstacles persist in 2021, including a stubborn pandemic in Thailand and slow vaccine distribution, said Mr Chaichan.

"Although the total number of infected people in the country has decreased, the number of infections in the provinces began to increase and the rate of vaccine distribution is not yet widespread, especially in industrial areas," he said.

The TNSC proposed the government accelerate vaccinations for workers in the manufacturing industry and subsidise expenses for factories that have implemented factory quarantine measures or factory accommodation isolation, as well as provided antigen test kits.

According to Mr Chaichan, other important risk factors are high freight rates, especially for routes to the EU and the US, and a shortage of containers, shipping space and raw materials such as chips and steel.

The Commerce Ministry reported on Sept 24 customs-cleared exports rose 8.39% year-on-year in August to $22 billion, with imports increasing by 47.9% to $23.2 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.22 billion.

It was the sixth consecutive monthly increase for exports, after gains of 20.3% in July, 43.8% in June, 41.6% in May, 13.1% in April and 8.47% in March, following a 2.59% contraction in February. Exports in the real sector (excluding gold, oil-related products and weaponry) continued to rise by 19.4% in August year-on-year.

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