Commerce Ministry targets Thai exports to grow 15% this year

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BANGKOK, Feb 7 – The Commerce Ministry has targeted pushing Thai exports to grow 15 per cent this year while in the first quarter they are projected to expand by 1-5 per cent.

Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, director-general of the Department of Export Promotion  (DEP) said that exports in the first quarter are likely to shrink following last year’s flood crisis which heavily impacted industrial estates and the manufacturing sector.

The senior official however said she was confident that Thai exports in the first quarter will not be negative but will grow by 1-5 per cent because many factories can resume production faster than earlier expected.

Although many parties are still concerned that the European Union debt crisis will affect Thai exports, Ms Nuntawan said she believed that there is still high demand for Thai fashion products and food in the European market.

Thailand still needs to maintain European and US markets despite slow growth, while at the same time targeting emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, Russia and Africa, Ms Nuntawan said.

Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol are scheduled to meet the heads of Thailand’s trade representatives’ offices based overseas on Friday to assess Thailand’s overall export outlook for this year and in each quarter.

The minister will give guidelines for key policy implementation and review this year’s marketing strategies to push Thai exports to reach targeted growth at least 15 per cent.

In addition, the director-general said the Department of Export Promotion will gear up to promote small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) as there is still high demand for foods, beverages and handicrafts and these SME businesses still have room to grow, in particular in ASEAN markets. Exports of these products in three categories to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations market were valued at more than Bt240 billion in 2011.

The DEP will instruct the SMEs to expand their markets to serve the integration of the ASEAN Community in 2015.

She conceded that some Thai exporters did not understand tariff preferences under the ASEAN framework.

In fact, she said, they need to register their businesses with the commerce ministry in order to exercise their rights under the agreement.