Thai food and electronic exports buck the trend amid global Covid-19 crisis
Demand for food and electronic devices during the lockdown saw Thai exports growing by 0.91 per cent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, but overall exports are expected to contract 8 per cent year on year.
The chief of Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC), Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, said that the expected 8-per-cent contraction was the result of the Covid-19 outbreak which had hit hard Thailand’s trade partners such as the US, EU and China.
TNSC believes that purchasing power around the world will keep dwindling, leading to increasing household debt.
Moreover, with the baht becoming stronger due to financial measures in strong economies there is a surplus in the current account.
Meanwhile, oil price continues to fluctuate because oil supplies in the US are increasing when demand is dropping but the biggest grouping, Opec, is reducing production. This might lead to another conflict between the US and Middle East countries, TNSC feared.
Thai exports in March were valued at US$22.4 billion, expanding 4.17 per cent compared to the same period last year, while imports were worth $20.81 billion, expanding 7.58 per cent, giving Thailand a trade surplus of $1.59 billion.
In the first quarter, exports were valued at $62.67 billion, expanding 0.91 per cent, and Thailand's trade surplus was $3.94 billion.
“Thai exports are better than expected. Even though agricultural product exports have contracted by 1.1 per cent compared to 2019, exports of sugar, vegetables, fruit, frozen and processed chicken, livestock feeds have expanded. Moreover, export of gold, auto, aircraft and spaceship parts, computer devices, steel, iron and air conditioners have expanded 6.4 per cent.” Ghanyapad said.
TNSC said that the government must maintain an exchange rate between Bt32.5 to Bt34 to the dollar, offer loans to entrepreneurs and support agricultural products.
Regarding the second quarter, the direction is unclear as the pandemic situation varies depending on the measures imposed by the government of each country but TNSC believes that businesses will recover at the end of 2020.