Govt worries over conflict impacts
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Govt worries over conflict impacts

The Ministry of Commerce has instructed state agencies to come up with measures to deal with a possible spike in energy prices if the conflict between Iran and Israel escalates.

According to a Government House source, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has closely followed the situation in the Middle East concerning the impact on Thailand and instructed state agencies to report to him if the situation deteriorates further.

The move follows Iran's missile and drone attack against Israel on Sunday in response to Israel's supposed attack on Iran's consulate in Damascus on April 1.

This was the first time Iran had attacked Israel directly following a long shadow war between the two foes in which Iran tends to strike at Israel through terror proxies.

In response, Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai on Monday said he has instructed the ministry, the International Trade Promotion Department, Trade Policy and Strategy Office and commerce diplomats in foreign missions to gauge the possible impacts that may affect Thai trade.

Initially, Thai-Iran trade has not been affected by the weekend's events as they occurred in Israel.

Mr Phumtham also asked for activity to be monitored in the Strait of Hormuz, which separates Iran with the Arabian Peninsula.

This is a key maritime route for oil and natural gas exports for almost all countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Qatar and Kuwait.

About 21 million barrels of oil go through the strait each day.

If the conflict escalates, leading to the trade route being closed, it could seriously affect oil procurement, resulting in an increase in transport costs and a rise in global energy prices.

State agencies have been instructed to study the downside of such scenarios and come up with countermeasures to prevent impacts on Thailand and the country's exports, he said.

The National Economic and Social Development Council earlier said the conflict between Israel and Hamas could affect the Thai economy through the price of fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) if the war escalated.

The ability of the country to cap fuel prices seems to have weakened, while LPG prices may keep rising as the oil fuel fund is rapidly being depleted, the assessment said.

Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), suggested the government develop a risk management plan.

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