Chamber of Commerce foresees 2-3% expansion in exports in 2024

Chamber of Commerce foresees 2-3% expansion in exports in 2024

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) forecasts exports to rebound to an expansion of 2-3% this year, with the value ranging from US$290 billion-293 billion, or an average of 2.5%, equivalent to $291.6 billion, from a contraction of 1% last year.

Thanavath Phonvichai, president of the UTCC, attributed the rebound in exports largely to the growing global economy and global trade as well as the recovering demand in main export markets.

He cited the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) latest projection which raised its forecast for global GDP in 2024 from 2.9% to 3.1%.

This adjustment was attributed to the growing economies of key trading partners, such as Asean, Europe, South Korea and the UK, while the US, China and Japan are experiencing a slowdown.

The IMF also anticipated that global trade in 2024 would likely expand by 3.3% due to easing global inflation rates, and global interest rates which may decrease.

The US may reduce its rates in May, with Europe possibly lowering its rates in April, and the UK in June. This outlook is expected to contribute to robust export growth in the second half. Additionally, the baht has shown a tendency to depreciate, providing support for exports.

Nevertheless, Mr Thanavath noted that there are still risk factors affecting export performance. These include the recent attacks on cargo ships by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, which have lead to an increase in shipping costs.

Additionally, China's recovery is still constrained by structural issues, particularly the property crisis.

Furthermore, the baht is showing signs of strengthening in the latter half, he said.

According to the Commerce Ministry's latest data, exports rose for a fifth straight month in December, but the figures for the entire year remain in the red, down 1% from a year earlier.

Customs-based exports rose 4.7% year-on-year in December to $22.8 billion, following a 4.9% rise in November.

Imports decreased by 3.1% to $21.8 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $973 million.

For 2023, exports decreased by 1% to $285 billion, while imports fell by 3.8% to $290 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.19 billion.

Exports of agricultural and agro-industrial products fell by 0.7% in 2023 to $49.2 billion, while industrial product exports dropped 1% to $224 billion.

In a related development, Mr Thanavath said export products with high expected outstanding performance this year include refined oil; telephones, devices, and parts; semiconductors and diodes; fresh, chilled and frozen fruits; electric transformers and parts; cars and parts; specialised-function machinery and electrical equipment; circuit boards; wood and wood products; and machinery and mechanical appliances.

He also called on the government to optimise commercial counsellors to accelerate the expansion of these flagship export products in various markets.

This effort aims to push exports to recover and contribute to an overall improvement of the economy, he said.

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