By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
"Thai exports this year are expected to grow more than 1 per cent, but may not reach the previous goal of 4 per cent.
"The slowdown in shipments has increased in line with other countries, while the Thai government in cooperation with private enterprises will try to draw up a new strategy to push exports as much as possible," Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said yesterday.
After the ministry’s meeting with government agencies and private sector organisations, including the Board of Trade of Thailand and the Thai Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Thai Industries, Thai National Shippers Council and other trade associations, Chatchai said that despite the downtrend in global commerce, the ministry will work closely with companies to boost sales of each product category to promising overseas markets.
According to a survey by Global Trade Atlas among 40 countries, only four, including China, Chile and Switzerland, have enjoyed increased trade during the past years.
Other countries, including Thailand, Asean countries, European Union countries and the United States, have faced a dip in export growth along with the slowing global economy.
The ministry has divided export categories into 10 clusters so that it can brainstorm with the players in each segment to increase orders from various markets.
The 10 clusters are agriculture and foods, electric appliances and parts, automobiles and parts, garments, jewellery and ornaments, construction materials, healthcare products, lifestyle products, logistics and various products to the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam markets.
Shipments should return to the growth path in the second half of the year, he added.
Vallop Vitanakorn, vice president of the Thai National Shippers Council, said shipments are expected to show an upsurge of 3 per cent in the remaining two quarters after flattening out this quarter.
The council has called on the government to establish distribution centres in neighbouring countries to support Thai trade in Asean. It has also urged for a cut in freight fees as they impose a high cost burden on traders.
Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the ministry should continue providing financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises under the SME Proactive project.
It should promote local products with the "Product of Thailand" logo to increase recognition of the quality of Thai goods, he said.
It should solve the problem of the baht since Thailand’s unit has strengthened by 1 per cent against other currencies, which have depreciated by 2-10 per cent. The baht’s advance against other currencies has eroded the country’s export edge, he said.
Kalin Sarasin, vice chairman of the Board of Trade, encouraged the government to call for a meeting to address and solve export problems, which have been raised by many trade associations.
It also supports the establishment of distribution centres in many target markets such as India, the Middle East and Asean.