Manufacturers want the government to boost exports despite facing what appears to be an uphill struggle after witnessing a decline in export value over a period of eight consecutive months, according to the latest survey conducted by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
Of 210 company executives across 45 industries who were interviewed by the FTI, 80% voted for new measures that would be able to reduce their operating costs, including a decrease in electricity bills and logistics costs, said Montri Mahaplerkpong, vice-chairman of the FTI.
Such measures would be able to stimulate exports and enable Thailand to better compete in the world market, he said.
The second most popular option was a push for new free trade agreements, which received 52.4% of respondents' votes, followed by the promotion of Thai exports in new markets through activities such as business matching (41.9%) and talks with Thailand's trading partners to solve hindrances to trade (40%).
The FTI is worried costlier power bills would affect exporters' competitiveness.
Both businesses and households are paying a power tariff of 4.70 baht per unit between May 1 and Aug 31, a slight decrease from the rate imposed during the first four-month cycle.
During the first four months of this year, businesses paid 5.33 baht per unit, up 13% from the previous record high of 4.72 baht per unit, while households paid 4.72 baht per unit.
According to the survey, goods exported to Asian markets -- excluding Asean -- made up 36.2% of all overseas shipments, followed by Asean (27.6%), the European Union (12.4%) and the United States (11.4%).
The customs-cleared value of exports dipped for an eighth consecutive month in May, falling by 4.6% to US$24.3 billion, the Commerce Ministry reported earlier.
If Thailand wants to see its 2023 export value be on a par with the level recorded last year, the value must exceed $24 billion on a monthly average throughout the rest of the year, said Mr Montri, citing an estimate made by the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking.
That would be a big challenge amid the global economic slowdown, high rates of inflation and interest in many countries as well as the sluggish economic recovery in China, he said. These factors would decelerate exports from Thailand and other countries.
However, the Commerce Ministry believes the country's export prospects should improve in the second half of this year as the global economy recovers and conditions improve among trading partners.
Permanent commerce secretary Keerati Rushchano said the ministry has plans to ramp up market expansion later this year into seven regions and specific clusters, starting with food and fruit in the province of Yunnan and the city of Nanning in China.
The ministry also wants to explore new potential markets such as the Commonwealth of Independent States and neighbouring countries, he said.