Automobiles and auto parts, electronics and agricultural products will drive Thai exports in the final quarter of this year, though shipments overall will remain sluggish for 2023, says the Federation of Thai Industires (FTI).
Demand for these products in the global market is expected to keep increasing, supporting Thai exports that slowed for many months this year.
"Exports will contribute to Thai economic growth over the last two months this year," said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI, after a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking on Wednesday.
The committee downgraded its export projection for the year to a contraction of 1-2%, slightly lower than a contraction of 0.5-2%.
Following several months of declines, the country's exports increased for a second straight month in September, gaining 2.1% year-on-year to US$25.5 billion, while imports fell by 8.3% to $23.4 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $2.09 billion, the Commerce Ministry reported last week.
The uptick in September exports was driven by agricultural and agro-industrial products, with exports of durian and mangosteen to China posting significant growth, as did rice exports to South Africa and Indonesia.
Industrial exports continue to expand, aligned with trends such as solar cells and mobile phones, according to the ministry.
However, the conflict in the Middle East has car manufacturers who export to the region concerned. This area is a key market for the Thai automotive industry.
Automotive products make up 10% of total Thai exports, said the FTI.
Exports of pickups are popular in the Middle East and could decline if the dispute cannot be settled through negotiations, the FTI's Automotive Industry Club said earlier.
Mr Kriengkrai said he is worried global crude oil prices could soar to $140-150 per barrel if the war is prolonged and becomes more severe.
"The FTI hopes crude oil prices will stay under $100 a barrel," he said.
Mr Kriengkrai urged the government to launch new measures to improve the Thai economy in the first half of next year, especially during the Songkran festival.
He said the government also needs to better manage the energy price structure in the long term by reducing the power tariff to 2.3-2.7 baht per kilowatt-hour (unit), down from 3.99 baht per unit at present.
The power tariff in Indonesia and Vietnam is 2.3 and 2.7 baht a unit, respectively.