Shippers say worst is over, predict 1-2% growth next year

Shippers say worst is over, predict 1-2% growth next year

Shipment containers are sorted at the Bangkok Port in March 2022. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Shipment containers are sorted at the Bangkok Port in March 2022. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Exports have already bottomed out and should recover to growth of 1-2% next year, driven primarily by agriculture, food and automotive components, according to a shipping group.

Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, said the country’s export value is estimated at US$283-284 billion this year, a contraction of 1-1.5% from 2022, with figures projected at $285-289 billion in 2024.

“Despite external factors that are difficult to predict and control, which may have a significant impact, exports have passed their lowest point this year and are poised to continue growing in the year to come,” Mr Chaichan said.

“We anticipate an expansion of around 1-2% in exports next year, with agricultural products, food, automobiles and auto components being the main drivers.”

The council’s projections assume an exchange rate of 33-35 baht per US dollar and an average crude oil price of $80-90 per barrel.

He said exports in the last quarter of this year are expected to expand by 5-7% year-on-year, as positive signals have been observed since August.

Obstacles are gradually diminishing, while exports continue to show good potential and competitiveness in the global market, said Mr Chaichan.

“The fourth quarter should post growth of 5-7%, but for the entire year, exports are likely to contract by 1-1.5%,” he said.

According to the Commerce Ministry’s latest data, exports increased for a second consecutive month in September, up by 2.1% year-on-year to $25.5 billion, while imports fell by 8.3% to $23.4 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $2.09 billion.

For the first nine months of the year, exports fell by 3.8% to $213 billion, while imports decreased by 6% to $219 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.83 billion.

Mr Chaichan said external factors that require monitoring by exporters include the economies of trading partners, and global inflation rates and interest rates, which remain high.

Various trade regulations, especially those related to the environment and climate, are also crucial, he said. Thai exporters must understand and comply with these regulations or their products may face difficulties in reaching foreign markets or incur higher tariffs, said Mr Chaichan.

In terms of domestic factors, he said the El Niño weather phenomenon could affect the production and export of agricultural and agro-industrial products.

In addition, export-oriented entrepreneurs need to adapt by using more technology in the production process, given the looming labour shortage as Thailand becomes an ageing society, said Mr Chaichan. Investment in automation is essential to increase efficiency in production, marketing and trade, he said.

“Next year, we are likely to face more challenges in terms of labour costs and labour shortages. A focus on automation, factory management and efficient energy use is necessary to improve production efficiency and reduce energy costs,” said Mr Chaichan.

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