Weaker baht a boon for export, tourism, but curse for industries relying on imports
The weakening of the baht will benefit the export sector but not importers, the Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) said, while advising exporters to insure themselves against currency risk.
TNSC chairman Chaichan Charoensuk said on Thursday that the baht is currently at around 37 to the US dollar after the US Federal Reserve hiked the interest rate by 0.75 points on Wednesday for the third time this year to fight inflation.
“This has affected not just the baht, but all currencies are getting weaker against the dollar,” he said.
Chaichan added that a weaker baht will bring profits to exporters, but industries that rely on imported raw materials, like pharmaceuticals, will suffer from surging costs.
“Over the past few months, businesses did not stock up on raw materials due to high fluctuation, so now they have to buy materials again at a higher price until the baht gets stronger again,” he said.
However, he believes the weakening of the baht will only last for a short period and it will soon return to around 36 to 36.5 baht to the dollar before yearend.
“The Bank of Thailand will not allow the baht to become too weak and will issue new measures to ensure its stability,” he said.
The TNSC chairman has advised exporters to keep a close eye on the currency and acquire insurance against risks from currency fluctuation. He said nobody can accurately predict which direction the baht will move and by how much.
Chaichan added that a weaker baht will also affect the import of fuel for power generation, eventually resulting in higher electricity bills and costs. He urged the government to use measures to slow down the hike in electricity prices and do it in steps to soften the impact on businesses, especially small and medium-sized ones.
Wisit Limleucha, vice president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said another sector that could benefit from the weakening of the baht is tourism. “To make the fullest use of the situation, tourism operators must focus on selling locally made products instead of on brands imported from overseas, which will suffer a surge in price due to the weaker baht,” he said.
Wisit said he believes that with proper support from the government, inflation in Thailand will not be as bad as in other countries as Thailand can still produce its own food instead of having to import it.