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Exim bank resilient despite rising bad debt, president says


The Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Exim) is in a strong financial position despite non-performing loans (NPLs) rising to 3.81 per cent (or Bt5.2 billion) at the end of last year, its president Pisit Serewiwattana said on Wednesday.

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Pisit is due to retire at the end of this month after serving as president of the state-owned bank since 2016. In 2015, Exim’s NPLs stood at 3.2 per cent of its outstanding loans.
Provisions to bolster financial strength in the face of Covid-19 cost the bank Bt1.34 billion last year, he revealed. Exim’s credit loss as of the end of December 2020 amounted to Bt11.97 billion. However, the bank had lowered risk with high coverage ratios of 232.44 per cent – compared to commercial banks’ standard ratio of just above 100 per cent – helping Exim record Bt2.3 billion in profit before credit loss.
Exim has responded to the new wave of virus infections by maintaining aid for liquidity-hit businesses and suspending principal interest repayments for customers in red, orange and yellow zones. It has also extended its investment and production efficiency enhancement scheme to ease burdens on businesses.
Pisit said Exim is paying special attention to supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who are often ignored by commercial banks.
While supporting Thai exporters and investors, the bank has been careful to obey World Trade Organisation rules that prevent state agencies from subsidising companies to give them unfair advantages over foreign competitors, he added.
Exim forecasts economic recovery this year will see Thai exports grow 2.5-4 per cent, after 6 per cent contraction last year.
Pisit projects Exim’s role will grow further in line with Thailand’s recovery blueprint. The bank has embarked on organisational transformation under the 10-year Master Plan (2017-2027) to adapt to external circumstances even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
Exim had maintained satisfactory operating results and was on track to becoming a regional Export Credit Agency (ECA) by 2022 and a global ECA by 2027. 
Those prospects were reflected by Exim’s credit facilities for Thai trade and investment, which stand at 1.6 per cent of gross national income (GNI), compared to 0.5-0.7 per cent of other ECAs in Asean. The bank’s operating results in 2020 showed a five-year high across all areas, he added. 
Exim and other state-owned banks, commercial banks and financial institutions have joined forces with the government to provide debt holidays, loans and debt restructuring since Covid-19 first emerged early last year. The impact of providing those measures is reflected in their operating results last year. 

Published : January 27, 2021

By : The Nation