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Auto exporters wish baht could be fortified

Aug 06. 2019
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By The Nation

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Auto exporters are hurting because of the baht’s appreciation and some are calling for the government to take remedial action.

The baht his a six-year high last month at 30.62 to the dollar and is still fluctuating, raising concern among major auto exporters like Mitsubishi and Toyota.

The two companies export more than 600,000 vehicles combined from Thailand each year.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp chairman Osamu Masuko, in Thailand recently to celebrate his company’s four-million-unit export milestone, said it was deeply concerned about the baht’s appreciation.

“If we have a chance to talk with the government, our request would be to help look after the baht’s value and, if possible, we would like it to be 10 per cent lower than at present,” he said, adding that the feeling is shared not just at Mitsubishi but across an industry that depends on exports.

Mitsubishi’s assembly plant at Laem Chabang Port is its largest outside of Japan and employs 7,000 people.

Toyota Motor Thailand Co Ltd president Michinobu Sugata acknowledged that the strong baht had affected the company’s exports.

But he said Toyota – Thailand’s top auto producer – had not adjusted plans or lowered production as a result.

He said Toyota wants to stick to its global plan for 2019, which includes exporting 270,000 units, down 8 per cent from last year due to lower demand in Central America, South America and Oceania.

“The stronger baht is affecting not only Toyota but other industries that depend on exports also,” Sugata said.

“Perhaps our profits will be lower due to an expected decline in domestic sales and exports. We are still holding on to our 577,000-unit production target, which is just 2 per cent lower than last year.”

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