Thai shippers forecast exports to gain 5% in Q1

Thai shippers forecast exports to gain 5% in Q1

Containers are stacked aboard a cargo vessel docked at Klong Toey port in Bangkok. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD
Containers are stacked aboard a cargo vessel docked at Klong Toey port in Bangkok. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD

A group of Thai shippers expects the country's exports to see year-on-year growth of 5% in the first quarter, helped by the global economic recovery.

Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said exports in January are likely to remain robust, with values expected to stay around US$22 billion.

"We're confident the first quarter should see exports grow by 5% over the same quarter of last year," said Mr Chaichan.

However, he admitted there were a number of risk factors, including high fuel prices, a shortage of workers and raw materials, and port congestion.

The group is maintaining its export growth forecast at 5-8% this year, with an estimated value of $285-293 billion, driven by the recovery of partner trading countries.

According to the Commerce Ministry's report on Jan 21, Thailand's customs-cleared exports expanded by 17.1% in 2021 to hit $271 billion, while imports rose by 29.8% to $268 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $3.57 billion.

The ministry predicts the country's exports will grow 3-4% this year to $270-282 billion, or 9.08-9.16 trillion baht.

Supporting factors include trading partners' improving economies and import expansion; depreciation of the baht in the first half of the year; an increase in food product and manufacturing raw material prices as demand recovers; an expected uptick in containers and vessels in mid-2022; and less severe Covid-19 symptoms, with the virus becoming endemic.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact, effective since Jan 1, and a growing digital economy that increases trade opportunities and facilitates overseas market expansion via online platforms, are also expected to increase Thai exports, the Commerce Ministry said.

According to Mr Chaichan, despite growing prospects, Thailand's export sector still needs stimulus activities, especially in terms of marketing.

Government agencies should continue to ramp up trade activities to promote exports, such as through exhibitions and business matching events, he said, especially with potential markets like Saudi Arabia, with which Thailand recently agreed to restore full diplomatic relations for the first time in more than 30 years.

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