Thailand's exports are expected to recover to 5.9-per-cent growth next year, with revenue of US$245.24 billion, after barely budging by 1 per cent this year.
The target was jointly set by the Commerce Ministry and 70 representatives of private organisations, such as the Board of Trade, the Federation of Thai Industries, commercial banks and trade associations. While setting the target, they also brainstormed a strategy to promote exports next year.
However, exporters are still worried about the global recession, rising labour and raw material costs and the domestic political conflict.
They called on government agencies to cooperate more closely to penetrate overseas markets. The chamber said Thai trade counsellors posted overseas should provide updated information to the private sector so that they can make preparations and draw up plans to establish a beachhead in each market.
The government should set up distribution centres for Thai products in each key market, focusing on Asean. Border trade should be promoted by staging trade exhibitions in the areas.
After the meeting, Krisda Piampongsant, an adviser to the Board of Trade, expressed concern over the global economic conditions next year as the US is still engulfed in financial issues.
“The global economy could be in a recession in the second quarter of next year if the US cannot solve its financial problems, while the quantitative easing measure is expected to be tapered back,” he said.
Gritsada Suptuaychone, secretary-general of the Electrical, Electronics, Telecommunications and Allied Industry Club under the Federation of Thai Industry, said shipments of electronics and electric appliances have increased slowly this year due to the impact from the slowdown in many markets. However, exports have shown signs of reviving this quarter, which would result in a smaller contraction of only 1 per cent this year after a contraction of 6 per cent in the first nine months.
Exporters are quite concerned with the slowdown in many countries next year, particularly in China, as orders for components had plummeted this year. Businesses are also worried about an expected increase in labour costs after the Bt300 minimum wage policy was enforced for two years.
The government should discuss carefully with the private sector if there are any more changes to the minimum wage, he added.
Chirakitti Tang, president of the Thai Gems and Jewellery Manufacturers Association, said jewellery exports should grow by 5 per cent next year, down from 6 per cent this year.
Positive factors include strong demand in emerging markets, despite the slowdown in traditional markets. However, the lack of raw materials and low financial support for operators could hold back exports of the industry, he said.
Kukrit Arepagorn, manager of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association, said chicken meat exports next year should grow by 5 per cent after dropping this year by 4 per cent.
Trade negotiations with Japan, South Korea and the EU should be able to help promote chicken exports next year.
Sunchai Puranachaikere, president of the Thai Fresh Fruits Traders and Exporters Association, said shipments of fresh and frozen fruit are expected to increase by 5 per cent next year on high demand in Asian markets, especially in China.
The target assumes that recoveries in the US, European Union and Asia would continue. Based on the International Monetary Fund’s projections, the growth of advanced economies, including the US, the Euro area, Japan, the UK and Canada, would rise from 2013’s 1.2 per cent to 2 per cent next year.
Commerce Minister Niwatthumrong Boonsongpaisan said exports to major markets including the EU, US and China should pick up next year. He attributed the meagre growth of 1 per cent this year, which will generate $231.57 billion revenue from exports for Thailand, to the persistent crisis in the euro zone as well as China’s economic sluggishness.
He is also optimistic that the political conflicts in Thailand would end soon and would not undermine the export sector.