Thai shippers upbeat about 6-7% growth

Thai shippers upgraded their export growth forecast to 6-7% this year from a 3-4% projection in December, helped by the global economic recovery, economic growth in major trading partners and healthy exports of industrial products such as automobiles, electrical appliances, equipment and parts, and oil-related products such as plastic pellets and chemicals.

Chaichan Chareonsuk, newly appointed president of the Thai National Shippers’ Council (TNSC), said a weaker baht also helps boost export prospects.

“We’re upbeat that exports can grow by 6-7% this year, but the government needs to help tackle shipment obstacles including the container shortage, especially by accelerating the import of 1.8 million TEU [twenty-foot equivalent units] empty containers,” he said.

The government is also being urged to address traffic congestion at Laem Chabang deep-sea port and tackle the unskilled labour shortage resulting from foreign workers being barred entry at the border.

Mr Chaichan said the export industry is in dire need of 200,000 to 300,000 workers.

“The labour shortages are becoming more severe in many export industries such as plastic products, chilled and frozen chicken, food, textiles which start recovering boosted by the economic growth of trading partners,” he said.

A sharp rise in global steel prices as a result of a 50% production capacity reduction by Chinese manufacturers in a concerted move to fight air pollution may also affect the production costs of Thai operators in related industries such as construction, automobiles, machinery, electrical appliances and metal packaging, said Mr Chaichan.

The Commerce Ministry reported on April 23 Thai export value recorded 8.47% year-on-year growth in March to US$24.2 billion, driven by intensive economic stimulus policies in trading countries, global vaccinations and higher crude oil prices.

In the first quarter, Thai exports grew by 2.27% to $64.2 billion, while imports rose by 9.37% to $63.6 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $516 million.

“Thailand’s export value should average $20 billion a month if export growth is to rise to 7%,” he said.