The Thai National Shippers' Council (TNSC) has downgraded its export forecast for this year to a contraction of 1% from its previous forecast, which ranged from a contraction of 0.5% to a 1% increase, citing weak global demand.
TNSC chairman Chaichan Chareonsuk said on Tuesday Thailand's exports will definitely fall into negative territory this year, possibly by -1% or more, due to many unknown risks and persistent problems.
"Thailand's export situation has adjusted downward in line with the global economic slowdown, which includes China, the US, and the European Union. It's highly likely that Thailand's exports this year will not meet the previous expectations, despite efforts to boost them," he said.
According to Mr Chaichan, Thailand still faces numerous external negative factors during the remaining months of this year, including the global economic slowdown which is affecting the economies of key trading partners, resulting in reduced demand for goods and services and high interest rates worldwide.
Rising raw material costs, particularly higher oil prices, are raising production costs in various industries, while changes in weather patterns may affect agricultural production and transportation.
The TNSC also called on the new government to expedite an improvement in the country's competitiveness in international trade through support in reducing costs, improving efficiency, and creating trade opportunities.
According to the latest data from the Commerce Ministry, Thai exports dropped for a 10th consecutive month in July, dipping below the forecast because of a steep reduction in global commodity prices attributed to the conflict in Ukraine last year, which led to a substantial deceleration in export values associated with these commodities.
The situation was also exacerbated by the implementation of stricter monetary policies and heightened stringency in financial institutions' lending practices, resulting in a deceleration in consumer spending.
In addition, China, a major player in the global economy, is dealing with a sluggish recovery characterised by reduced domestic consumption, stemming from a decline in business confidence, according to the Commerce Ministry.
The customs-cleared value of Thai exports fell by 6.2% year-on-year in July to US$22.1 billion, while imports contracted by 11.1% to $24.1 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.97 billion.
For the first seven months, exports decreased by 5.5% to $163 billion, while imports dropped by 4.7% to $172 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $8.28 billion.