Thailand’s 2013 export growth forecast plunges to only 1%

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BANGKOK, Nov 12 – The Commerce Ministry has readjusted Thailand’s export growth projection for this year from an earlier projection of 4 per cent to only 1 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister/Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan put the blame on the global economic slowdown and falling prices of several products, especially agricultural commodities.

The commerce minister met yesterday with 70 industrial export groups to assess this year’s exports and next year’s projection, and map out a strategy to promote Thai exports.

He said this year’s exports would amount to US$231.5 billion or a 1 per cent increase while next year’s export performance should grow by 5 per cent thanks to the global economic recovery and higher consumer purchasing power.

Mr Niwatthamrong said Thailand’s internal political situation should improve soon now that the government has clearly announced its intention to drop the amnesty bill.

If political conflicts drag on, Thailand’s investment and investor confidence will be in jeopardy, he said.

According to the Commerce Ministry, the agricultural produce and food sector will expand by at least 5.9 per cent, heavy industry by 7.1 per cent, auto industry by 20 per cent, fashion industry by 4.8 per cent, lifestyle merchandise by 5 per cent, health and beauty industry by 6.3 per cent and other industries by 3 per cent.

Ath Pisarnvanich, director of the International Trade Studies Centre, University of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the ongoing political protests have lowered domestic consumption while exports will grow by 1 per cent, and the gross domestic product by 3 per cent.

If the political crisis carries on to next year, Thailand’s economy will expand at only 3-4 per cent while exports should grow 4-5 per cent, he said.

He expressed concern that foreign investors may shift to Vietnam and Indonesia, consequently affecting Thailand’s role as the industrial manufacturing hub for Southeast Asia.

He called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to clearly announce a complete withdrawal of the amnesty bill – a gesture which may bring back people’s confidence in the government.

Dissolving Parliament is a short-term solution as the existing problems will be left unsolved while investor confidence in the government’s investment on mega projects will disappear, he said.

The Commerce Ministry gave reassurances that it would work closely with the private sector to maintain Thailand’s global market share and expand manufacturing and investments to neighbouring countries.