Thailand aims at South Africa as high-potential export market

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BANGKOK, April 16 – Thailand is eyeing South Africa as an emerging market for its exports, predicted to grow at least five per cent this year, the director general of the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) said.

Srirat Rastapana said South Africa is a large market which also serves as a distribution hub for other countries in the continent. Thailand has projected  boosting exports to the region with more publicity and advertising of Thai products.

Thai exports to South Africa in the first two months of this year were reported at US$381 million (Bt11.42 billion) with automobiles and parts reaching US$110 million or a 43 per cent surge, seafood at US$32 million or 48 per cent higher, rice declining by 1 per cent at US$30 million, and metal, steel and related products at US$22 million or a 37 per cent increase.

Imports from South Africa in January-February were US$313 million (Bt9.47 billion). Major imports were jewellery, gems, silver bars and gold at US$217 million, a 35 per cent decline, metals and metal products at US$26 million or a rocketing 154 per cent surge, chemicals at US$19 million or 35 per cent higher, paper pulp and shredded paper at US$17 million or 26 per cent less, and machinery and parts at US$15 or a sharp increase by 113 per cent.

DITP Pretoria office director Chakrin Komolsiri said Thailand’s top export items to South Africa are auto parts, food products and rice, and computer equipment and parts thanks to the republic’s limited production capability and its geographical strength as the springboard for communication and transport in the continent of 57 countries.

The higher demand for automobiles among the South African public has triggered Thailand’s auto and parts export expansion to the country, he said.

He said Thailand’s export potential for canned and processed seafood is highly positive despite South Africa’s strict control, and rice is the third highest income earner among Thai exports.