By The Nation
The contraction is largely influenced by global factors including ongoing trade tensions between US and China and tighter global financial conditions, and specific factors of each country and region such as, political uncertainty in the EU.
However, the effects on Thai exports are relatively less than those on other Asian countries. Thai exports still performed sturdily in main markets namely US and India and expanded in rising markets such as Canada, Russia and CIS.
In addition, Thai exports registered continual growth in agricultural products, especially food, and witnessed market diversification in China, Asean, US, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Prominent growth products are fresh, frozen and processed fruits and vegetables, fresh, frozen and processed chicken, and beverages - which mostly are products that generate income for farmers and SMEs and help support Thai local economy.
Major important industrial products that are expanding are motorcycles and components, radio, telegraph, telephone and television, watches and components that has seen a continuous expansion since the end of last year.
For the first five months of 2019, Thai exports declined 2.7 per cent.
Amidst challenging trade situation, tailoring marketing strategies to specific markets, promoting potential new products and enhancing trade cooperation in the region will help expand export opportunities in many markets and products.
Supporting Factors for Thailand exports in May 2019 are positive brand image, proactive export strategies customised to specific area, opportunity from being alternative suppliers for products under trade war, and upward trend of global oil prices.
However, Challenging External Factors for Thailand exports in 2019 are unresolved trade disputes between US and China, exchange rate volatility, trade policy uncertainty and new FTAs which will enter into force this year. These might affect Thailand’s trade competitiveness.
Thai Exports to most markets still contracted owing to global trade slowdown and unsettled disputes between US and China. These ongoing situations form tension and uncertain trade environment which conceivably weaken Thai exports and global economy including Thai trading partners.
However, Thai exports grew in US, Brunei and India as a result of market diversification. Meanwhile, exports to main markets declined 1.2 per cent. While exports to Japan contracted by 4.4 per cent and exports to the EU contracted 8.6 per cent, exports to the US still increased at 7.8 per cent. High potential market contracted by 7.0 per cent as a result of exports to Asean-5, CLMV and China which declined by 14.3, 4.7 and 7.2 per cent, respectively.
However, exports to India and South Korea continued to expand at 4.4 and 4.7 per cent, respectively. For the second tier market, exports decreased 7.2 per cent. Exports to Australia, the Middle East and Latin America shrank by 17.0, 6.1 and 1.8 per cent, whereas those to CIS and Canada began to expand at 6.6 per cent and 11.0 per cent.
Ministry of Commerce prepare and propel the export strategies for 2019 by driving trade in parallel with investment and services policies. These include customised strategies by areas, expanding export opportunities in strong markets, namely the US, India and CLMV countries as well as opening up new markets that have seen signs of continuous growth such as Russia and Canada.
In addition, MOC focuses on products with high growth and potential to substitute products under trade war such as agricultural products, fisheries and food (fresh and processed), chicken.
The Ministry also promotes rising-star products such as motorcycles and parts, watches and components, beverages, cosmetics and skincare products by utilising their good reputation and high-quality standards. In this time of exchange rate fluctuation, exporters should manage risks and make long term contract to secure transactions and minimise trade-war induced uncertainty.