Optimism rising on exports in second half

2_2014-04-10_002The government and the private sector expressed increased optimism about export growth during the second half of this year with shipments expected to rise for a broad range of goods from rice to electronics, machinery and jewelry, the head of the International Trade Promotion Department said last week.

Malee Choklumlerd, director-general of the Department, said that the Ministry of Commerce is maintaining its target of achieving a 5 percent expansion in exports this year despite a sluggish first half that saw exports contracting early, but entering positive territory in recent months.

“Many industries have foreseen better export growth, while some predict steady growth. Only a few industries expect lower export growth compared to the first half of this year,” Malee said.

Agro-industries in particular are bullish on their export prospects for the remainder of 2016, as they believe demand is increasing in many of their traditional markets. A study by the Department projected that exports from the agricultural and food sector will expand by 3 percent, up from an earlier forecast of 1.9 percent for the year, and reach a value of $33.93 billion.

Thailand’s economy is built on three pillars: consumption, investment and exports. While several Thai governments have enacted policies to strengthen consumption and investment, exports still play the largest role. The diversity of products that Thailand ships – from raw agricultural commodities to automobiles and computer disk drives – has made the economy more resilient during difficult global economic times.

Although industrial exports were expected to be lackluster, the Department still believes they will grow 3.1 percent this year to $123.9 billion. Traditionally strong performers such as vehicles and auto parts, and gems and jewelry are also expected to record solid increases in shipments, as well as the newer category of lifestyle products.

But food items may turn out to be the most delicious selections on Thailand’s menu of exports for the second half of 2016. Food exports are now forecast to grow by 5.2 percent, up from initial forecasts of 2.7 percent.

Frozen, canned and processed food should grow by 3.1 percent or more, Malee said. And exports of shrimp will take off, soaring to a 12 percent increase from earlier projections of just 4 percent growth.

Malee said that competitors in the shrimp sector have less supplies this year, and that will allow Thai shrimp exports to fill the gap and meet global demand. She also cited the recent United States upgrade of Thailand’s status in its Trafficking in Persons Report as creating a better image for Thai products that may result in increased shipments.

The upgrade confirmed that the Thai government has been taking meaningful steps to crack down on and prevent abuse. And private sector companies have also been taking concerted and effective measures to ensure their supply chains are free from any trafficking or abuse.