TNSC sticks with export growth projection of 5-8%
Shipments to China to pick up the slack
Thai exports are projected to eke out growth this year as expected, despite emerging signs of an economic slowdown in the US and EU.
Chaichan Charoensuk, president of the Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC), said he remains confident outbound shipments will grow as projected because China's economy remains in good shape and Thai exports are recovering after a drop in April attributed to the mainland's zero-Covid policy.
The US was Thailand's largest export market in the first four months this year, accounting for 16% of shipments, followed by China and the EU with 11.7% and 7.9%, respectively.
During the period, Thai exports to the US rose by 21.5% to US$15.5 billion, with those to China and the EU increasing by 0.9% and 4.3%, respectively.
"Thai exports to the US fared quite well in April, with figures rising 13.6% from the same month of last year, while purchase orders have remained strong in June," said Mr Chaichan.
"But a slowing trend is likely in the third and fourth quarters."
He said export products likely to be hardest hit by an economic slowdown in the US and EU include auto parts, rubber tyres and electronics parts.
"We remain upbeat Thai exports can grow as expected, but next year the [export] sector will likely face a spate of big troubles," said Mr Chaichan.
"Thai exporters need to accelerate finding new markets such as the Middle East, India and Asean, as well as increase border trade."
The council forecasts Thai exports to grow by 5-8% this year, with key drivers including the depreciation of the baht and robust demand for products such as sugar, rubber, auto parts, textiles, food, rice, and gems and jewellery.
In the first four months this year, Thai exports grew by 13.7% year-on-year to $97.1 billion, while imports rose by 19.2% to $100 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $2.85 billion.
Ronnarong Phoolpipat, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said Thai exports are expected to perform well for the remainder of this year.
"The Commerce Ministry believes exports will achieve its 4-5% growth target," he said.
"The ministry is about to upgrade the growth target to 6% now that the government is working to promote and stimulate exports, speeding up the opening of new markets and free trade talks, as well as underlining cooperation with the private sector to increase exports as much as possible."
Mr Ronnarong said Thai exports, particularly rice and agricultural goods, are expected to record healthy growth based by growing fears of food shortages worldwide.
In the event of an economic slowdown in the US and EU, he said the impact would fall on luxury and fashion products.
As most Thai export products are essentials for daily use such as food and household appliances, Mr Ronnarong said a significant impact from a slowdown in those regions would be unlikely.