Agencies address impact of low-end imports on SMEs

Agencies address impact of low-end imports on SMEs

The Commerce Ministry has delegated the Trade Negotiations Department and the government's "Team Thailand", whose primary responsibility is to support efforts to promote economic growth, to gather in-depth data and examine specific products under the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) affected by the influx of low-priced Chinese goods.

Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said the ministry is ready to consider the suggestions of entrepreneurs after the Federation of Thai SMEs proposed directives to address the impact of Chinese products flooding the market, which has adversely affected local businesses.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) requested the government scrutinise the roster of imported goods under the ACFTA, ensuring a balanced and mutually beneficial outcome.

The federation acknowledges some products cannot be manufactured domestically.

"The Trade Negotiations Department and Team Thailand have been tasked with collecting the details of which products are being affected, and what are the losses and benefits," said Mr Phumtham.

"Regarding the suggestion of entrepreneurs that the government implement measures to promote the use of domestically produced goods, it already has that goal, aiming to stimulate local SMEs to encourage greater consumption of Thai products."

He said SMEs are a primary target of state assistance measures, noting that in developed countries SMEs are deemed crucial for national development, contributing up to 60% of income.

Mr Phumtham said SMEs face many other challenges apart from the flood of Chinese products entering the market.

He said various agencies oversee the sector, meaning there is no central authority taking direct responsibility for SMEs.

The Office of SMEs Promotion is expected to invite organisations associated with SMEs to engage in discussions in the near future to address several issues and explore solutions collectively, said Mr Phumtham.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) recently said the import of Chinese products caused some local manufacturers, especially SMEs, to reduce production by 50%.

According to the FTI, the influx of cheap Chinese goods is affecting manufacturers across 20 sectors, including steel, aluminium, plastics, ceramics, petrochemicals and medicine.

The import volume from the mainland will continue to rise if the government does not improve its product certification process, said the federation.

According to Commerce Ministry data, last year Thailand imported US$70.8 billion worth of goods from China, up 0.05% year-on-year.

Electrical appliances accounted for $8.75 billion, followed by machinery and parts, chemicals and electrical appliances worth $6.56 billion, $6.02 billion and $5.80 billion, respectively.

SMEs constitute 99.5% of all Thai businesses and employ 70% of Thailand's workforce.

In 2022, SMEs generated an economic value of 6.1 trillion baht, accounting for 35.2% of GDP.

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